The Gulf Restoration Office is located in Atlanta, Georgia. We manage a large team of Service staff members who have expertise in an array of disciplines that are critical to the success of our efforts to restore the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We work across the Gulf of Mexico Region to restore the Gulf of Mexico's natural resources to the condition they would be in be in if the Deepwater Horizon oil spill had not occurred. That is, working with others to address the injuries to the Gulf's natural resources that were caused by the oil spill. The vast majority of our work is funded by the legal settlements that were reached after the spill.
As we are a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our overarching mission is to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. Applying this mission to the Gulf of Mexico means that we participate in and guide collaborative planning and implementation for large scale Gulf restoration projects and activities that provide benfits to fish and wildlife resources, habitats, and recreational amenities on Federal lands. Restoration project focal areas include threatened and endangered species, other priority species and habitats, coastal resiliency, enhanced accessibility and use of Federally managed lands, and public access to recreation. We are also guided by the Service's Vision for a Healthy Gulf.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused widespread injury to the Gulf’s natural resources. The Gulf Restoration Office was established after the oil spill specifically to conduct the damage assessment and restoration of injured resources from the spill. Upon passage of the RESTORE Act in 2012, we were given roles and responsibilities for other restoration activities.
The Injury Assessment
Shortly after the spill, as a Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee, we participated in a comprehensive injury assessment. Specifically, we assessed injuries to our trust resources - sea turtles, birds and endangered species such as the Gulf sturgeon, beach mouse, brown pelican, the Kemp's ridley sea turtle, and others. Assessing injury involved everything from staff counting the number of oiled birds and sea turtles (alive and dead) to surveying damage to wildlife habitat such as the dunes and beaches that are essential to nesting birds and sea turtles.
One year after the oil spill, BP committed to make up to $1 billion available before an anticipated settlement so the Trustees could begin restoration efforts right away. began making early progress. Through this Early Restoration effort, the Trustees have approved more than 100 projects.
Post Settlement Restoration
A 2016 global settlement requires BP to make annual payments over 15 years to total $8.8 billion for the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment process and $2.9 billion to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council).