A draft plan proposes $627 million in early restoration projects across Gulf states in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including five Texas projects to compensate for lost recreational use of natural resources.
The Texas projects in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees plan total about $18.4 million, according to a news release. The Draft Programmatic and Phase III Early Restoration Plan and Draft Early Restoration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement is available for public review and comment through Feb. 4.
This marks the third and largest phase of early restoration to date. Included in the draft are 44 proposed projects. Some aim to restore barrier islands, dunes, marshes, shorelines and oyster beds. Others such as boat ramps and park enhancements seek to address the lost recreational use of natural resources.
Of the $627 million, ecological projects comprise about $397 million, while lost recreational use projects make up the remaining $230 million. Both approaches meet criteria under the Oil Pollution Act and other applicable laws and guidelines.
The Texas project proposals include about $10.8 million for beach facilities at Galveston Island State Park, $210,100 for facilities at Sea Rim State Park and about $7.4 million for three artificial reefs.
“We’re pleased to invite public review of the first Texas early restoration project proposals, which would contribute to restoring the entire Gulf of Mexico,” said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director, in the release, speaking for the three Texas trustee agencies, which also include the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and General Land Office. “These proposals represent investments that are good for our Gulf and good for Texas coastal communities and economies.”
The draft’s release opens a 60-day public comment period. The comment period will include 10 public meetings held across the Gulf states. All meetings will begin with an interactive open house during which Trustee staff will be available to discuss project details. The open house will be followed by a formal presentation and opportunity to provide comments to Trustee representatives.Times, dates and locations for the three Texas meetings are listed below.6 p.m. Jan. 21: Port Arthur Civic Center, Hall E, 3401 Cultural Center Drive6 p.m. Jan. 22: Texas A&M University at Galveston, Seawolf Parkway on Pelican Island, Auditorium, Class Room Lab Building, (Building No. 3007 on campus map)6 p.m. Jan. 23: Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Drive
The public also may submit written comments online at www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov and by mail to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 48567, Atlanta, GA 30345.