Meet the Gulf Restoration Office
As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rolled into fiscal year 2018, we ushered in many exciting changes to our Gulf of Mexico restoration initiative that emerged from the Global Settlement for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This comprehensive legal settlement resolved the governments’ civil claims under the Clean Water Act and natural resources damage claims under the Oil Pollution Act stemming from the 2010 disaster in the Gulf, the largest offshore oil spill in history. The Global Settlement also covered the economic damage claims of the five Gulf states and local governments. Taken together, this global resolution of civil claims is worth $20.8 billion, and is the largest settlement with a single entity in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s history.
This was only the first step in the post-settlement evolution of our Gulf restoration responsibilities and approaches. A world characterized by assessing injuries and limited early restoration became comprehensive restoration planning and implementation at an ecosystem scale. To meet that unprecedented responsibility, we have pooled our resources. The Department’s Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Case Management Office and the Service’s Fairhope Deepwater Horizon NRDAR Field Office have joined forces to become the Service’s new Gulf Restoration Office (GRO).
The GRO represents the Department in eight NRDAR Trustee Implementation Groups responsible for $8.8 billion worth of restoration in the Gulf, as well as on the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) Council that has responsibilities for the planning and implementation of another $3.2 billion worth of restoration projects. The GRO also reviews proposals submitted by the Gulf states for funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF’s) $2.5 billion Gulf Environmental Fund, and represents the Service in consultations with NFWF about them.
To capitalize on the substantial Service expertise, the GRO also works closely with staff embedded within numerous Service programs in both the Southeast and Southwest Regions. Those embedded staff members work closely with the GRO to ensure we are representing the interests of the Service as a whole. These staff members represent Service programs such as Migratory Birds, Ecological Services, Refuges, Fisheries, External Affairs and Science Applications. The GRO also provides restoration planning expertise across the Department’s bureaus, bureau-specific budget guidance, and compliance-streamlining opportunities for Gulf restoration, and even local expertise from various Service field offices and stations throughout the watershed that feeds the Gulf.
The Gulf Restoration Office members include (listed alphabetically): John Carro, Erin Chandler, James Chapman, Charmin Cupit, Debbie Devore, Robin Donohue, Ben Frater, Amy Gibbs, Kate Healy, Jon Hemming, Dianne Ingram, Kip Jones, Debora McClain, Ashley Mills, Jennifer Mitchell, Nanciann Regalado, Robin Renn, Kevin Reynolds, Pam Rule, Brian Spears, and Pete Tuttle.