Public Comment Now Open on Deepwater Horizon Proposed Restoration Projects

By Teresa Shumaker
Five years after the detrimental BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, restoration retribution is near. Deepwater Horizon Trustees are now accepting public comments until Friday, June 19, 2015, on “The Draft Phase IV Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessments” (Draft Plan) which consists of ten proposed Early Restoration Gulf Projects, totaling $134 million.

According to a press release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, “Out of the $134 million estimated costs of Phase IV, about $126 million (94% of total) would be devoted to ecological projects and about $8 million (6% of total) would be devoted to projects that address lost recreational use.”

Early funds of $1 billion from BP will allow the Trustees to begin projects previously agreed by both the Deepwater Horizon Trustees and BP. If these ten projects are approved, the remaining $832 million will be spent.

One project is Sea Turtle Early Restoration that targets four key areas important to sea turtle conservation: nest detection, sea turtle rehabilitation, shrimp trawl bycatch, and fisheries bycatch. To learn more about the sea turtle project, go here: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/wp-content/uploads/150454_dwh_factsheet_seaturtle.pdf.

Please consider attending a meeting or writing a letter in support of the sea turtle restoration project, or any of the other nine projects.

The Ten Projects

• Osprey Restoration in Coastal Alabama – Baldwin and Mobile Counties, Alabama
• Point aux Pins Living Shoreline – Mobile County, Alabama
• Shell Belt and Coden Belt Roads Living Shoreline – Mobile County, Alabama
• Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Trail Enhancement – Alabama
• Seagrass Recovery Project at Gulf Islands National Seashore – Florida District
• Bike and Pedestrian Use Enhancements at Davis Bayou, Gulf Islands National Seashore – Mississippi District
• Restoring Living Shorelines and Reefs in Mississippi Estuaries – Coastal Mississippi
• Texas Rookery Islands – Galveston Bay and East Matagorda Bay, Texas
• Sea Turtle Early Restoration Project – Gulf of Mexico
• Pelagic Longline Bycatch Reduction Project – Gulf of Mexico

To see the full draft plan, and learn more about the first three phases of Gulf restoration, go to http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/. Printed copies of the drafts are at three libraries in Texas:
• Jack K. Williams Library, Texas A&M University at Galveston Texas A&M University/Galv. Building #3010, 200 Seawolf Pkwy, Galveston TX 77554
• Port Arthur Public Library 4615 9th Ave. Port Arthur, TX 77672
• Library Texas A&M Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi,TX 78412

Texas Meetings

Corpus Christi: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 11, at Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Drive Corpus Christi, TX 78412.

Galveston: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, at Texas A&M University at Galveston Seawolf Parkway on Pelican Island Auditorium, Classroom Lab Building (Building #3007 on campus map) Galveston, TX 77554.

Unfortunately, there is no meeting scheduled for the Rio Grande Valley area. To see the full list of meetings along the Gulf, go to http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/wp-content/uploads/TC_NewsRelease_PhaseIV_FINAL.pdf

If you cannot attend a meeting, but would like to make an online public comment, please go to https://parkplanning.nps.gov/nrda/ before Friday, June 19, 2015.

Or send a letter by mail to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 49567, Atlanta, GA 30345