Yesterday the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) made an announcement awarding $15.7 million for six projects to alleviate the harm caused by the 2010 Gulf oil spill. These funds, which come from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, are just a portion of $356 million allotted to Florida over the next five years through the settlement between BP and Transocean and the U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition to information on each of the six NFWF projects, I have enclosed an article from the Tallahassee Democrat that summarizes yesterday’s announcement.
Providing for Northwest Florida’s ongoing recovery from the Deepwater Horizon spill is, and will continue to be, among my top priorities, and I hope you will not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions, comments or concerns you may have regarding the restoration.
NFWF Oil Spill Projects
Apalachicola Bay Oyster Restoration: Enhance approximately 18 acres and improve the management of approximately 3,000 acres of degraded oyster reef habitat to better understand the optimal conditions for promoting oyster resiliency to various future disturbances.
Comprehensive Panhandle Coastal Bird Conservation: Improve Panhandle beach-nesting bird habitat to increase nesting, hatching, and rearing of chicks for important beach-nesting species such as Black Skimmer, American Oystercatcher, and Red Knot. Activities will include placing signage to protect nesting sites and prevent road mortality of chicks; disturbance monitoring and abatement; and artificial nesting support and experimental habitat creation.
Management & Restoration of Escribano Point Coastal Habitat – Phase 1: Acquire, restore and maintain high-quality coastal fish and wildlife habitats in order to improve the sustainability of Escribano Point in Pensacola Bay. Newly acquired and existing State-owned Escribano Point land will be enhanced through prescribed burning, vegetation management and hydrologic restoration.
Enhanced Assessment for Recovery of Gulf of Mexico Fisheries – Phase 1: Collect data in the northern and eastern Gulf of Mexico in order to assess the recovery of reef fish stocks in association with restoration efforts implemented in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, improve and expand single-species stock assessments for managed fish species, and foster improved ecosystem-based assessment and management capabilities.
Government Street Regional Stormwater Pond at Corrine Jones Park: Capture and treat stormwater runoff from 40 acres in downtown Pensacola that currently discharges untreated runoff directly into Pensacola Bay. This project will improve water quality in the Bay by using an innovative stormwater treatment pond that will also serve as a wetland habitat for a variety of bird and other species.
Eliminating Light Pollution on Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches:Correct problematic light on private properties with a history of sea turtle disorientations to greatly increase sea turtle hatchlings annually.
ICYMI: Gulf states get oil spill payout
$44.19 million will go to Apalachicola Bay
By Jeff Amy, Associated Press
The five states that border the Gulf of Mexico are getting $113 million to improve the environment, the first small chunk of $2.5 billion that BP and Transocean were fined as a result of criminal pleas last year following the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
The grants were announced Thursday by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Louisiana is getting $67.9 million, Florida $15.7 million, Alabama $12.6 million, Texas $8.8 million and Mississippi $8.2 million.
Over the next five years, the foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund will receive about $1.3 billion for barrier island and river diversion projects in Louisiana, $356 million each for natural resource projects in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, and $203 million for similar projects in Texas.
Thursday’s announcement spent only part of the first $158 million that the companies paid earlier this year. Another $353 million will be paid by February, but the largest payments will come in later years, said Thomas Kelsch, who leads the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund for the foundation.
Foundation officials said states would seek further public input before proposing future projects.
Louisiana will use its coastal restoration plan as a guide, foundation officials said.
In Louisiana, the money will go for planning and engineering to restore coastal islands and divert Mississippi River water and sediment into vanishing marshlands, part of the state’s fight to stop its coastline’s erosion.
Environmental advocates applauded the $40.4 million for a diversion from the west bank of Mississippi south of New Orleans to the Barataria estuary. That diversion is supposed to be a pilot project that will guide the design of others in the future.
“The Barataria Basin has one of the highest rates of land loss in the world, and this large-scale wetland restoration project is crucial to reversing that trend,” the Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation said in a joint statement.
Money in other states will generally go to improve natural areas and create better habitats for animals. For example, Mississippi will use $3.3 million to uproot invasive land and wetland plant species in its 26 coastal preserves, replanting with native species.
Alabama will use $6.78 million to try to stop sedimentation caused by suburban development that’s making Mobile Bay muddier and killing sea grass beds that are important nurseries for fish, crabs and shrimp.
In Florida and Texas, foundation officials said they tried to choose projects closest to the spill zone. Projects were generally in Florida’s western Panhandle and on the eastern part of Texas’ coast.
In Florida, $4.19 million will go to restore oyster beds in Apalachicola Bay, which have been hard hit after drought.
“This is a big step in helping industries that have been particularly hard hit by the oil spill and the economy,” said U.S. Sen Bill Nelson, D-Fla.