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Nearly $100 Million Proposed to Restore Gulf-wide Resources Impacted by Deepwater Horizon

March 22, 2021

Funded by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement, eleven restoration projects are planned across all five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, and sites in Mexico and on the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Dolphin surfaces the water. $7.2 million in restoration projects are proposed for marine mammals, including dolphins. Image: Florida FWC/Rebekah Nelson

NOAA and the Deepwater Horizon Regionwide Trustee Implementation Group is seeking public input on their first draft restoration plan (PDF, 346 pages). The group, exemplifying collaboration and coordination among the trustees, includes all four federal agencies and all five Gulf states restoring the environment after the 2010 oil spill. Wildlife and other natural resources affected by the spill often live and migrate across jurisdictional boundaries, which requires a region-wide approach to restoration. This approach also links projects across regional jurisdictions.

The plan proposes $99.6 million for 11 restoration projects across all five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. It also targets specific locations in Mexico and on the Atlantic coast of Florida. Comments will be accepted through May 6, 2021 and the trustees are hosting two public webinars on April 15, 2021.

Proposed Project Alternatives

The draft restoration plan evaluates projects to restore natural resources injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It proposes a portfolio of projects restoring sea turtles, marine mammals, oysters, and birds. The 11 proposed projects include:

  • Four projects ($18.6 million) will restore sea turtles through projects focusing on nesting beaches, enhancing stranding and salvage networks, and collaborating with recreational and commercial fisheries to reduce bycatch and to gather information to inform potential future restoration projects
  • One of the sea turtle projects, the “Restore and Enhance Sea Turtle Nest Productivity” project, includes components located on key sea turtle nesting beaches on the Atlantic coast of Florida and in Rancho Nuevo, Mexico
  • Three projects ($7.2 million) will restore marine mammals through enhancing stranding and salvage networks and working with fisheries, including collaborating with shrimp fishing communities to reduce dolphin entanglements in gear, and hook-and-line fisheries to reduce dolphin injuries and deaths
  • One project ($35.8 million) will increase the resilience of and restore oyster reefs by linking brood reefs and sink reefs in each of the five Gulf of Mexico states
  • Two projects ($31 million) will restore birds through habitat restoration and nesting colony management
  • Additionally, one project ($7 million) will restore both sea turtles and birds through the removal of marine debris

The estimated combined cost of the proposed projects is $99.6 million. The broad geographic areas covered ensure restoration efforts are comprehensive and effective for the entire ecosystem. The proposed projects in the draft plan may also complement projects planned or underway in other restoration areas.

We appreciate the great response to our request for project ideas. We screened than 5,100 project ideas for consistency with priorities identified in the request and the Trustee Council’s Programmatic Restoration Plan.

Public Comment and Virtual Public Meetings

Submit Comments

The public is encouraged to review and comment on the draft plan through May 6, 2021 by submitting comments online, by mail, or during the virtual public meetings.

Public Meetings

The trustees are holding two virtual public meetings with open houses for questions and answers on April 15, 2021. During the meetings, we'll also present the draft plan and take public comments.

Date, Times and Registration 

April 15, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. CT: Register

Meeting Logistics

  • You’ll have the opportunity to register for one or both of the virtual meetings, as well as signing up for public comment. You can also wait until the meeting to sign up to comment.
  • After registering, you will receive an email with information and links to join the virtual meeting.
  • The virtual meetings will include open houses for attendees to ask questions about the restoration plan and proposed projects.
  • For language or accessibility requests, please contact regionwide.tig@noaa.gov no later than April 5.

Stay tuned to the Regionwide Restoration Area or sign up for our Gulf Spill Restoration email bulletins for future updates.

Documents and More Information