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Deepwater Horizon Trustees Call for Public Input on Early Restoration Plan

Date Posted: December 14, 2011

When hazardous substances enter the environment, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources can be injured. The Department of Interior, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,  along with State, Tribal and Federal partners, act as "trustees" for these resources.  This trusteeship is authorized under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), which became law after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Trustees seek to identify the natural resources injured, determine the extent of the injuries, recover damages from those responsible, and plan and carry out natural resource restoration activities. The goal of this process is to restore natural resources injured by contamination.

When a disaster occurs, trustees first must assess the nature and extent of natural resource injury. Restoration efforts may begin even before this damage assessment process, known as Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), is completed. This early restoration is a strategy to get natural resources back to normal faster and is important because NRDAs are complex and can sometimes last many years.

For the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP provided an unprecedented $1 billion for early restoration. This represents an initial step toward fulfilling their obligation to fund the complete restoration of natural resources impacted by the spill. It is an opportunity to help restoration get started sooner.

This Draft restoration plan consists of 8 projects that address an array of injuries and are located throughout the Gulf. Specifically, this proposed plan includes two oyster projects, two marsh projects, a nearshore artificial reef project, two dune projects, and a boat ramp enhancement project. This initial plan contains the only the first of a long series of restoration actions that will be undertaken by the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Trustees (Trustees). The ultimate goal of the Trustees is a comprehensive and long lasting repairs to the Gulf ecosystem, and the communities that depend on it, to the condition they would have been in if there had never been a spill, and to compensate the public for its lost use of the resources during the time they were damaged. 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 NRDA.

Your input on this plan is important so that we can begin restoration of Gulf of Mexico resources injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A 60-day public comment period will be open from Dec. 15, 2011 to Feb. 14, 2012. You can comment on the plan online, or provide a hard copy by mail or at one of the public meetings being held throughout the Gulf and in Washington, DC. The Final Plan will also be made available for public comment.


The public will have sixty (60) days to review and comment on this proposed plan. Comments on the Draft Early Restoration Plan can be submitted through February 14, 2012 by one of following methods:

To submit comments via the Web:

To submit hard copy comments, write:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 200
Fairhope, AL 36533.


Draft Phase 1 Early Restoration Plan (Executive Summary) (pdf, 422 KB)

Draft Phase 1 Early Restoration Plan (Full Text) (pdf, 5.2 MB)

More information, including documents and public hearing dates, can be found on NOAA's Gulf Spill Restoration site at:


Last updated: June 12, 2015