The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has announced grants totaling more than $280 million in support of efforts to remedy harm and reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The sixth round of funding to date from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund — which was created in 2013 to administer $2.544 billion in funds for natural resource projects under the terms of plea agreements between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP and Transocean — will support twenty-one projects in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. In this round, the state of Alabama was awarded more than $48.7 million for eight projects, including continued efforts to improve fisheries management within the state's coastal waters, the protection and restoration of vulnerable shorelines and a barrier island, a priority water-quality project, and the expansion of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. In Florida, grants totaling more than $53 million will fund seven projects, including a large-scale oyster reef restoration project in Pensacola Bay, a conservation easement for coastal wetlands and forests in the Big Bend region, three projects designed to enhance sea turtle nesting areas, and shoreline stabilization of important wading bird rookeries.
In addition, the state of Louisiana was awarded grants totaling $161.4 million for restoration efforts focused on the Terrebone Basin barrier island system, including the restoration and beach nourishment of West Belle Headland, Timbalier, and Trinity Islands, while Texas was awarded grants totaling $19.1 million for five projects, including the acquisition of significant coastal habitats and restoration work to address coastal resiliency needs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
With the latest grants, NFWF has awarded a total of nearly $1.3 billion, or more than half the available funds, to projects that, under the terms of the agreement, have been developed in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other state and federal agencies.
"One of the primary goals of the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund is to provide lasting and future benefits to the types of natural resources impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. "The 2018 awards advance that goal by improving coastal resilience and bolstering the long-term health of the Gulf of Mexico. By restoring critical coastal habitats such as marshes, oyster reefs, and barrier islands, the projects supported by GEBF funding will benefit birds, fish, marine mammals, and other wildlife while also reducing the risk of future harm from storms and other events that threaten local communities and economies."
For a complete list of funded projects, see the NFWF website.