On Monday, the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and released of 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, federal and state Trustees, along with BP officials, announced 10 projects poised to receive funding for early restoration efforts along the Gulf of Mexico.
Totaling $134 million, the proposed projects include enhancing bird and turtle nesting and habitats, improving near-shore and reef habitats, increasing recreational use of federal lands, and restoring fish in the Gulf.
Four of the projects in this fourth round of funding for the Early Restoration Plan are located in Alabama:
Osprey restoration project in Mobile and Baldwin counties
Aimed at improving osprey nesting success, the project would establish five osprey nesting platforms. Located and designed to meet regulatory requirements and maximize project success, each platform would also include a predator guard. Five general areas have been identified for the location of these platforms: the vicinities of Portersville Bay, Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan, the Little Lagoon area in Gulf Shores and in Gulf State Park. The estimated cost for this project is $45,000.
Point aux Pins “living shoreline” in Mobile County
This project would reduce shoreline erosion, promote colonization of marsh vegetation, and create habitat for oysters, shrimp, crabs, fish, and other marine animals in coastal Alabama. Structures designed to reduce wave energy would be placed parallel to the shore near Bayou la Batre, at Point aux Pins, adjacent to an existing living shoreline project. The estimated cost for this project is $2,300,000.
Shell Belt and Coden Belt roads “living shoreline” in Mobile County
Similar to the Point aux Pins Living Shoreline project, this project would also promote colonization of marsh vegetation and create habitat for oysters, shrimp, crabs, fish, and other marine animals in coastal Alabama by placing structures designed to reduce wave energy parallel to shore near Shell Belt and Coden Belt roads in south Mobile County. The estimated cost for this project is $8,050,000.
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Trail enhancement in Baldwin County
Designed to address the lost recreational usage of Jeff Friend Trail at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, the project would rebuild a rapidly aging boardwalk and gravel trail and improve access from the parking area. The estimated cost for this project is $545,110.
Monday’s plan is only a draft for Phase IV Early Restoration Plan, which will be released later in order to give the public the opportunity to review and comment at public meetings. As reported by AL.com “if all 10 are accepted, they will be added to the 54 projects that have already been approved and funded with the initial $1 billion allocated by BP.”
According to NOAA Gulf Spill Restoration, “Early restoration allows the Trustees to jump-start restoration using up to $1 billion BP has agreed to make available for projects jointly agreed to by BP and the Trustees. In return, BP’s liability is reduced.”
The full list of proposed projects and more information about the restoration program can be found here.