Restoration Plans for Gulf of Mexico Revealed

In one of the first moves to begin restoration of the Gulf of Mexico after the disastrous Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees (Trustees) today released the Deepwater Horizon Draft Phase I Early Restoration Plan & Environmental Assessment (DERP/EA) for formal public comment.

This is just the first in what is expected to be a series of plans to begin restoring the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf Oil Spill Tagged Pelican 47Z
A Brown Pelican tagged with #47Z from the Gulf Oil Spill finishes a meal on the north jetties off Cumberland Island Georgia.

The DERP/EA is a collection of eight proposed projects for the initial round of Early Restoration, two each in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi that will receive funding from the $1 billion Early Restoration agreement announced by the Trustees and BP on April 21, 2011. The eight projects are estimated to cost some %57 million.

The Trustees will hold 12 public meetings throughout January and February of 2012 along the affected Gulf Coast communities and in Washington, D.C., in the hopes of soliciting formal public comment on the DERP/EA.

“Public feedback is of the utmost importance, and we encourage people to submit comments and attend the upcoming public meetings,” said Cooper Shattuck, chair of the Trustee Council Executive Committee, speaking on behalf of the Trustees. “This is the first step in beginning restoration of injuries caused by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. While continuing to accept project ideas, we will move forward with additional phases of Early Restoration until the entire $1 billion is committed to Gulf Coast restoration.”

The eight projects are:

  • Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation – NRDA Early Restoration. Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana; approximately 104 acres of marsh creation; benefitting brackish marsh in the Barataria Hydrologic Basin; estimated cost: $13,200,000.
  • Louisiana Oyster Cultch Project – St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Lafourche, Jefferson, and Terrebonne Parishes, Louisiana; approximately 850 acres of cultch placement on public oyster seed grounds; construction of improvements to an existing oyster hatchery; benefitting oysters in coastal Louisiana; estimated cost: $14,874,300.
  • Mississippi Oyster Cultch Restoration – Hancock and Harrison Counties, Mississippi; 1,430 acres of cultch restoration; benefitting oysters in Mississippi Sound; estimated cost: $11,000,000.
  • Mississippi Artificial Reef Habitat. Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties, Mississippi; 100 acres of nearshore artificial reef; benefitting nearshore habitat; estimated cost: $2,600,000.
  • Marsh Island (Portersville Bay) Marsh Creation – Mobile County, Alabama; protecting 24 existing acres of salt marsh; creating 50 acres of salt marsh; 5,000 linear feet of tidal creeks; benefitting coastal salt marsh in Alabama; estimated cost: $9,400,000.
  • Alabama Dune Cooperative Restoration Project – Baldwin County, Alabama; 55 acres of primary dune habitat; benefitting coastal dune and beach mouse habitat in Alabama; estimated cost: $1,145,976.
  • Florida Boat Ramp Enhancement and Construction –  Escambia County, Florida; four boat ramp facilities; benefitting human use in Escambia County, Florida; estimated cost: $4,406,309.
  • Florida (Pensacola Beach) Dune Restoration – Escambia County, Florida; 20 acres of coastal dune habitat; benefitting coastal dune habitat in Escambia County, Florida; estimated cost: $585,898

For those interested in attending one of the public meetings, the dates and times are as follows;
Florida:   Wednesday, Jan. 11 and Thursday, Jan. 12
Mississippi:   Tuesday, Jan. 17; Wednesday, Jan. 18; and Thursday, Jan. 19
Alabama:   Monday, Jan. 23 and Tuesday, Jan. 24
Texas:    Thursday, Jan. 26
Louisiana:   Tuesday, Jan. 31; Wednesday, Feb. 1; and Thursday, Feb. 2
Washington, D.C.: Tuesday, Feb.

Source: Gulf Spill Restoration (pdf)
Image Source: Cheryl Conner

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