How is Restoration Happening?
As the federal fish and wildlife agency, the Service has a responsibility to the public, including our partners, to ensure meaningful conservation outcomes for our shared fish and wildlife goals. It is essential that we not only engage with partners, but support and bridge our common efforts. While the conservation needs of the Gulf of Mexico are daunting, collectively we have the potential to significantly advance Gulf restoration and provide ecological and economic benefits to the American public.
Actions supporting collaborative science, planning, and implementation side-by-side with our partners are woven throughout our Vision document.
We are committed to using a landscape-level approach that the Service has termed Strategic Habitat Conservation, or SHC. This adaptive management model is used to measure progress toward desired biological or ecological conditions. The Service relies on our science partnerships to ensure the appropriate conservation design, monitoring, and supporting adaptive management frameworks are in place for projects across the Gulf of Mexico watershed.
Close relationships with the state fish and wildlife agencies, other federal agencies, regional and local governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), private landowners, industries and other partners across the Gulf of Mexico watershed are central to the Service’s Vision. Ultimately, the level of success we reach in restoring the waters of the Gulf of Mexico will be directly related to how well we coordinate our efforts. If we choose to work independently, we will miss the opportunity to accomplish something greater than any of us could achieve alone.
Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (NRDA)
The mission of the U.S. Department of the Interior's NRDA Restoration Program is to restore natural resources injured as a result of oil spills or hazardous substance releases into the environment. In partnership with affected state, tribal and federal trustee agencies, the NRDA Restoration Program conducts damage assessments which are the first step toward resource restoration and used to provide the basis for determining restoration needs that address the public’s loss and use of natural resources.
Once the damages are assessed, the NRDA Restoration Program negotiates legal settlements or takes other legal actions against the responsible parties for the spill or release. Funds from these settlements are then used to restore the injured resources at no expense to the taxpayer. Settlements often include the recovery of the costs incurred in assessing the damages. These funds may also be used to fund damage assessments in future incidents. All actions taken by the NRDA Restoration Program on behalf of citizens of the United States are done with the goal of restoring injured natural resources.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF): Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund
In early 2013, a U.S. District Court approved two plea agreements resolving the criminal cases against BP and Transocean which arose from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The agreements direct a total of $2.544 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund projects benefitting the natural resources of the Gulf Coast that were impacted by the spill.
NFWF will carry out the plea agreements through its newly established Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. Over the next five years, the Fund will receive a total of $1.272 billion for barrier island and river diversion projects in Louisiana, $356 million each for natural resource projects in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, and $203 million for similar projects in Texas.
The purpose of the Gulf Fund as set forth in the pleas is to “remedy harm and eliminate or reduce the risk of future harm to Gulf Coast natural resources.” Funds may only be used to support projects that remedy harm to natural resources (habitats, species) where there has been injury to, or destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of those resources resulting from the oil spill.
The plea agreements require NFWF to consult with state and federal resource agencies in identifying projects to be supported by the Fund. NFWF will help develop consensus among these resource agencies in identifying projects that meet the conditions of the plea agreements.
For more on how the funds from the BP criminal agreement will be allocated, we recommend this "Criminal Plea Agreement Fact Sheet" by the Environmental Law Institute.
For more on how funds from the Transocean criminal and civil settlements will be allocated, we recommend this "Transocean Settlement Fact Sheet" by the Environmental Law Institute.
Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA)
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act, (CWPPRA pronounced kwǐp-rŭh), is federal legislation enacted in 1990 that is designed to identify, prepare, and fund construction of coastal wetlands restoration projects. Since its inception, 151 coastal restoration or protection projects have been authorized, benefiting over 110,000 acres in Louisiana. The legislation (Public Law 101-646, Title III CWPPRA) was approved by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by former President George H. W. Bush.
Approximately 40 percent of the coastal wetlands of the lower forty-eight states are located in Louisiana. Unfortunately, this fragile environment is disappearing at an alarming rate. Louisiana has lost up to 40 square miles of marsh per year for several decades – that’s 80 percent of the nation’s annual coastal wetland loss. To date, Louisiana has already lost coastal land area equal to the size of the state of Delaware. This loss is at an average rate of an acre every 38 minutes. If the current rate of loss is not slowed by the year 2040, an additional 800,000 acres of wetlands will disappear, and the Louisiana shoreline will advance inland as much as 33 miles in some areas.
Alabama Coastal Restoration
This site features information on Alabama's coastal restoration processes.
Alabama Coastal Restoration Project Suggestion Portal
The Alabama Coastal Restoration online project suggestion portal is now available. To receive instructions for submitting a project suggestion, please go to http://www.alabamacoastalrestoration.org and click on “Submit Project Suggestions”.
It is important to note the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council and the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council have not yet made formal calls for project suggestions. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) will provide an email update once either of these Councils make an announcement regarding a request for project suggestions. However, the online portal does allow for the entry of such suggestions for future consideration.
The online portal is also currently accepting restoration project suggestions as to potential funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. To learn more about NFWF and this Fund, go to http://www.nfwf.org/gulf/Pages/home.aspx.
Any individual or organization seeking to submit a project suggestion for potential funding through the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process should continue to submit those suggestions through the previously established NOAA portal at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration/give-us-your-ideas
Florida - Gulf Oil Spill Response & Restoration
This site provides information on restoration work in the state of Florida.
Louisiana - Coastal Protection & Restoration
The State of Louisiana contains three million acres of coastal wetlands and can be considered a working coast. Home to two million people, it supports vital ecosystems, national energy security, thousands of jobs and a unique culture. However, wetlands loss, erosion, subsidence, climate change, sea level rise, storms and storm surge, drought, repeated flooding, hypoxia and saltwater intrusion all threaten the sustainability of Louisiana’s coast. If sustainability is not restored to the coastal ecosystem, land will continue to be lost at a rapid rate, and critical infrastructure will be damaged or destroyed. Pipelines, offshore support centers, and other facilities constructed for inland conditions will be subject to the open water of the Gulf of Mexico. Fisheries and wildlife stocks will decline as spawning, breeding, and foraging grounds are lost to the Gulf, and the nation will lose priceless habitat whose intrinsic value is recognized the world over.
Mississippi - Make Mississippi Whole
This website is dedicated to bringing all aspects of the Mississippi restoration effort into one central location allowing anyone who wants to take part in this historic event to easily understand the process, get involved, and give voice to their vision for the future of our Gulf Coast. The people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are resilient, purposeful, and determined. It is with this resiliency and determination that thousands of coastal residents rolled up their sleeves, linked arms, and united as one to respond to one of the largest oil spills in history. To most it is a moment seared into memory as they can easily recall where they were and what they were doing when they heard of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and now all are working together to Make Mississippi Whole.
Texas - Restore the Texas Coast
This site will soon be operational.
NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program
The purpose of the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program is to achieve a holistic understanding of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem to support restoration efforts and long-term sustainability of the ecosystem, including its fish stocks, wildlife, habitat, and fishing industries. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working with NOAA, consults with the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in carrying out the program. The draft goals of the program are as follows:
Early Restoration: Alabama Dune Restoration Cooperative Project
http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration/early-restoration/early-restoration-projects-atlas/ and click the orange icon near Gulf Shores for the "Alabama Dune Restoration Project."
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, the City of Gulf Shores, the City of Orange Beach, Gulf State Park, and the Bureau of Land Management form the largest group of coastal landowners along the Alabama Gulf Coast. These owners collectively own and/or manage approximately 18-20 miles of dune habitat.
When completed, dune restoration in coastal Alabama will result in installation and 80% survival of approximately 678,000 native dune plants, installation of approximately 31,000 linear feet of sand fencing, and installation of approximately 220 restoration signs.
Implementing Trustee: United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Project Contact: Jackie Isaacs, Wildlife Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 251-540-8523, firstname.lastname@example.org
Total Amount Allocated: $1,300,000.00
National Academy of Sciences: Gulf of Mexico Program
NAS has formed an Advisory Group that will lead strategic planning and initial development of a new program to advance understanding of health, environment, and oil system safety in the Gulf of Mexico and other outer continental shelf regions. The advisory group includes members with a broad range of science, engineering, and health expertise. The Advisory Group will be critical in shaping the program. Dr. Barbara Schaal, the outgoing NAS Vice President, has agreed to serve as chair of the advisory group and will bring great leadership and commitment to our institutional values.
Members of the advisory group are charged to develop a strategic vision to guide the program as it develops. Its work will include:
The Gulf Restoration Council
The RESTORE Act established a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (the Council), which is comprised of governors from the five affected Gulf States’, the Secretaries from the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security as well as the Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Gulf States recommended and President Obama appointed the Secretary of Commerce as the Council’s Chair.
Last updated: April 16, 2014