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Saturday October 25th 2014

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BP’s Early Restoration Dollars, Round Two

The public will have the opportunity tonight to review and comment on a recently released plan from the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees. The plan outlines the second round of projects slated to receive funding from a $1 billion BP fund dedicated to early restoration in response to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The plan presents two projects aimed at restoring bird and turtle habitat, at a cost of $9 million. Both projects include Escambia County in their scope.

The first project is listed as A Comprehensive Program for Enhanced Management of Avian Breeding Habitat Injuries by Response in the Florida Panhandle, Alabama and Mississippi. This project is designed to restore and protect the nesting habitat of beach-nesting birds. It is to be conducted on the sandy beaches of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties in Florida, as well as areas in Alabama and Mississippi.

The second project is listed as Improving Habitat Injured by Spill Response: Restoring the Night Sky. To be conducted in Baldwin County, Alabama, as well as the aforementioned Florida counties, this project proposes to reduce the impact of artificial lighting on nesting habitat for sea turtles, specifically loggerhead turtles.

During the initial phase of the early restoration projects performed via this fund, Escambia County saw the construction of new boat ramps, repairing of old boat ramps as well as a beach renourishment project. The boat ramps—at a cost of more than $4 million—were the only round-one funds directed towards a ‘human use’ project, as opposed to environmental restoration work.

The public input meeting for the next round of funding is tonight at the Escambia County downtown governmental complex. There’s an open house at 6 p.m., with the meeting and comment period scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m.

Comments may also be submitted via the web—visit NOAA’s site—or by regular mail, at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 2099, Fairhope, AL 36533.