Gulf Coast Residents Discuss Plans for Restoration FundsBy Evelina Burnett | Published 17 Jul 2013 09:10am |
Miss Gulf Coast residents are expressing their views on how millions of restoration dollars should be spent after the 2010 BP oil spill.
More than a hundred coast residents filled an auditorium on the University of Southern Mississippi campus in Long Beach last night to give their opinions on the latest round of post-oil spill restoration projects. This time, the projects being considered are part of early restoration funds from the Natural Resources Damage Assessment. Department of Environmental Quality director Trudy Fisher is the state’s representative in this process.
"We negotiated a $1 billion dollar early restoration agreement with BP, and so that allowed the five states and the federal trustees to kind of kick start, get a jump start on early restoration and so that's where we are tonight, we're talking about Phase 3 of early restoration, some proposed ideas for early restoration projects," said Fisher.
In Mississippi, about $14 million has already been spent on oyster reef restoration and artificial reef construction. The ideas proposed in this phase include a living shoreline project in Hancock County; restoration initiatives at the Infinity Science Center; and a Pascagoula Beach front promenade. Jill Mastrototaro of the National Wildlife Federation said the process should look at comprehensive ecosystem based restoration.
"I think a broad approach of assessment and identification of restoration alternatives be it from the near shore off the coast, our wetlands, our beaches, our barrier islands all the way out to the deeper offshore marine environments," said Mastrototaro.
Thao Vu of the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese Fisherfolk and Family wants to see more transparency and public involvement in the process, including project selection criteria and implementation.
"Particularly communities who have been disproportionally impacted, have great skill sets and knowledge of the Gulf already, work with them to develop restoration projects, plan it and implement it in a way and also work with community in hiring the fishermen to carry out the work because they have existing skill sets and experience," said Vu.
Similar public meetings are also being held in other Gulf states and in Washington DC.
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