NOVEMBER 26, 2012 – The public has until December 10, 2012, to submit comments on $9 million in early restoration projects [PDF] related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. This draft early restoration plan includes two projects aimed at restoring injuries to bird and sea turtle nesting habitats around the Gulf of Mexico. In the wake of the 2010 well blowout, the pollution response operations disturbed these sensitive habitats. The natural resource trustees, including NOAA, hope to have the habitat improvements in place for the spring 2013 nesting season. Part of BP's $1 billion funding for early restoration in the Gulf, this second round of projects includes the following proposals:
- A comprehensive program for enhanced management of avian (bird) breeding habitat injuries by response in the Florida panhandle, Alabama and Mississippi. This project proposes to protect nesting habitat for beach-nesting birds from disturbance in order to restore habitat impaired by disturbance from oil spill response activities. It is to be conducted on sandy beaches in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, and Franklin counties, Florida; Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Baldwin and Mobile counties, Alabama, and the Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS) – Mississippi District.
- Improving habitat injured by spill response: Restoring the night sky. This project proposes to reduce artificial lighting impacts on nesting habitat for sea turtles, specifically loggerhead turtles, to restore habitat impaired by disturbance from oil spill response activities. It is to be conducted on sandy beach public properties in Baldwin County, Alabama; and Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, and Franklin counties, Florida.
You can submit your comments on these projects in the following ways:
- Via the Web: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.
- Via email (for electronic submission of comments containing attachments): fw4coastalDERPcomments@fws.gov
- Via U.S. mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 2099, Fairhope, AL 36533.
The trustees considered projects based on criteria laid out in federal and state regulations and in the agreement with BP. This is the second in a series of draft early restoration plans developed outlining projects agreed to by the trustees and BP and presented for public input. These draft plans will be finalized to ultimately form a Final Early Restoration Plan. To access both Phase I and II Draft Early Restoration Plans and Environmental Reviews, as well as additional details on the proposed projects, please visit NOAA's Gulf Spill Restoration website. The long-term damage assessment will continue while early restoration planning is under way. BP and the other responsible parties ultimately will be obligated to compensate the public for the entire injury and all costs of the natural resource damage assessment.