Florida Governor Scott announced twenty-eight proposed projects to restore environmental and recreational areas of the state's panhandle damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It is expected these projects will use $88,000,000 of the $1 billion of early restoration funds BP agreed to provide to the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees for early restoration projects in April 2011.
Each Trustee, including Florida, has access to $100 million for early restoration projects meeting the criteria specified by the Framework Agreement. Approximately $12 million of Florida's allocation was used for the first two sets of projects that included a boat ramp and dune restoration to repair damage caused by the oil spill and response activities.
Governor Scott said in a recent Florida Department of Environmental Protection press release, “Today’s announcement is great news for Florida and the families who call the Panhandle home. This funding will work to protect Florida’s environment so future generations of Floridians will be able to enjoy our state’s great natural treasures.”
The twenty-eight new projects include these three large-scale costly undertakings:
- $19 million for a marine fisheries hatchery enhancement center in Escambia County
- $12 million artificial reef and restoration project
- $10 million recreation and restoration project in Okaloosa County
The remainder of the proposed projects include beach nourishment efforts, habitat restoration, oyster reef and dune restoration and additional recreational improvements such as boat ramps, beach access points and improvements to existing parks.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed projects before they are finalized through February 4, 2014. Two public meeting will be held to provide a forum for citizens to express their thoughts regarding the projects in Florida. The first meeting will take place in Pensacola on January 28 and a second in Panama City on January 29, 2014.
Nick Wiley, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director, said in the Florida DEP release, “These projects are important steps in restoring our habitat and recreational opportunities for today and for future generations. There are several projects in this package that would help recover and ensure a bright future for saltwater fishing in the Gulf. We look forward to the upcoming public meetings and input from the public and our stakeholders.”
For meeting locations and times and more information on the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process and the project ideas visit the Deep Water Horizon Florida website.