APRIL 20, 2012 -- An estimated $60 million in early restoration projects soon will begin along the Gulf Coast following the nation's largest oil spill, according to the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council. "The early restoration projects will drive both ecological and economic renewal," said NOAA trustee Monica Medina, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. "Through these and future projects, the trustees intend to build a regional restoration economy." With finalization of the "Deepwater Horizon Phase I Early Restoration Plan & Environmental Assessment," [PDF] eight restoration projects will be implemented in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The projects provide for marsh creation, coastal dune habitat improvements, nearshore artificial reef creation, and oyster cultch restoration, as well as the construction and enhancement of boat ramps to compensate for lost human use of resources. This is the first early restoration plan under the unprecedented April 2011 agreement with BP to fund $1 billion in early restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico. Meant to address injuries to natural resources caused by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill, the funding enables the trustees to begin restoration before the completion of damage assessment activities. The $1 billion will go towards the following early restoration projects:
- Each Gulf state—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas—will select and implement $100 million in projects;
- The Federal Resource Trustees, NOAA and the U.S. Department of the Interior, will each select and implement $100 million in projects;
- The remaining $300 million will be used for projects selected by NOAA and Department of the Interior.
"This milestone agreement will allow us to jump-start restoration projects that will bring Gulf Coast marshes, wetlands, and wildlife habitat back to health after the damage they suffered as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. During what has been deemed the largest oil spill in U.S. history, NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration provided forecasts of oil movements, advised the U.S. Coast Guard on cleanup operations, produced and maintained the Common Operational Picture, and managed large volumes of data streams and assessed resources threatened by spilled oil. We continue to work with state and federal agencies to document impacts to the Gulf of Mexico’s natural resources and the public’s lost use of them.