Oil Spill Restoration Projects on the Table for Public InputBy Rhonda Miller | Published 18 Jan 2012 02:04am |
The tug-of-war has begun over $1 billion of BP money to begin restoring the Gulf Coast from oil spill damage. MPB’s Rhonda Miller has more from a public hearing in a Gautier Tuesday night.
"The draft early restoration plan..."
About 100 people attended the meeting to hear about two proposals to begin restoring the Mississippi Gulf Coast. State Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Trudy Fisher plays a key role in the restoration as the trustee for Mississippi.
"We wanted to look for projects where we knew that were supported by the citizens and that also, where we already knew that we had impact," says Fisher. "So we need to go ahead and begin to address the harm that had occurred. And so two of the projects, I call them low-hanging fruit, were the oyster cultch projects and also a near-shore artificial reef project."
Cultch is a ground-up material, like limestone and oyster shells, that rebuilds the reef so oysters can grow. One proposed project would restore reefs off Hancock and Harrison Counties. But retired seafood processor Bruce Maghan thinks state and federal officials are forgetting his territory.
"We used to have fine reefs off Jackson County, primarily Graveline Bayou and Bayou Cumbest, and there was some along the Front Beach, and then Gautier, and I was hoping they would restore some of those reefs," says Maghan.
The Moss Point representative for the STEPS Coalition, Cindi Tarver, wants attention given to the environmental impact of the spill on her community.
"I’m concerned about all the areas that are affected by the BP oil spill, but primarily in the Moss Point area. I have not heard anyone comment on the wetlands and how the BP oil spill would have possibly affected the wetlands in Moss Point," says Tarver.
Some Gulf Coast residents have been complaining the restoration process isn’t transparent enough. But National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman Tim Zink says there’s extensive public information.
"We have made more than a hundred work plans that outline how we’re doing the work in the field, the assessment work, available to the public," says Zink.
A second public hearing on Gulf Coast restoration will held in Gulfport tonight. A third meeting is scheduled for Thursday in Bay Saint Louis.
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