Today, Governor Bobby Jindal unveiled the "Louisiana Plan" to start restoring the state's coastal areas, fisheries and oyster seed grounds from the devastating impact of the BP oil spill. The state will be submitting a list of projects to BP, the Department of Interior and NOAA, and the funding will come from a $1 billion agreement announced in April 2011 for early restoration of damaged natural resources resulting from the oil spill.
The "Louisiana Plan" of early restoration projects totals around $530 million. The state expects to receive a large portion of the $1 billion in early restoration funds because Louisiana sustained the brunt of oil spill damage along the Gulf.
The departments of the Interior and Commerce and BP announced a $1 billion agreement for early restoration of damaged natural resources resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill earlier this year. The $1 billion agreement includes:
* $500 million split equally among the five Gulf states ($100M each)
* $200 million split equally among the Department of the Interior (DoI) and NOAA
* $300 million to be allocated by DoI and NOAA to states for early restoration projects
The Jindal administration first made a request for early restoration funding in July of 2010, rather than waiting for 10 years or more during legal negotiations, and pushed for a down payment from BP to begin restoring the natural resources injured by the BP oil spill. This early restoration funding -- which comes from the responsible parties and includes no taxpayer money -- must be used to offset natural resource injuries to wildlife or the coast, or the lose use of natural resources.
Governor Jindal said, "We are working aggressively to get our fishermen and our coastal communities back on their feet following the catastrophic BP oil spill last year. We fought hard to cut the red tape and get BP's commitment to fund early restoration work so we would not have to wait 10 or more years before damage payments were made to Gulf states. We were pleased BP finally announced a commitment of $1 billion for early Gulf Coast recovery projects just a few months ago. This "Louisiana Plan' we are announcing today will jumpstart work on critical restoration projects including the placement of fish hatcheries, oyster re-seeding and coastal restoration work all along our coast.
"Our plan includes projects totaling more than $500 million because we expect to receive a major portion of the $500 million out of the $1 billion in early restoration funding that has not already been allocated to the states, due to the fact that our coast endured the brunt of the oil spill disaster. Parts of our shoreline are still oiled today and it is critical for this work to begin immediately so we can start to reverse the damage done to our natural resources even while we continue to hold BP accountable. Yet again, we are here to say that we cannot afford to wait. We are taking action."
LDWF Secretary Robert Barham said, "It is crucial that we begin large-scale early restoration work as soon as possible. The state trustees have worked diligently to identify a list of essential projects that will help us begin the process of rebuilding and restoring our coastal resources and Louisiana fisheries. While we won't know the full impact of the spill for years to come, we can prepare ourselves for what may happen. The Louisiana Marine Fisheries Science and Research Center, and the Oyster Re-establishment Program are two tangible ways to both restore resources now -- planting cultch for oyster re-establishment and building the facilities that will be necessary to help restore any damaged fisheries. We cannot wait any longer. I fully support Governor Jindal's efforts to have the NRDA trustee council approve these projects so we may begin now."
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said, "These projects are important to the future of not only Louisiana's coast, but our way of life. The Governor really stepped up to the plate and was aggressive about working with us to build this list. These projects are greatly needed to begin restoring resources deteriorated by the spill. We look forward to starting this work, it can't happen soon enough."
Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph said, "Thanks to the teamwork of Gov. Jindal, the OCPR, and the leaders of the impacted parishes, the regional projects chosen represent a solid opportunity to begin repairing the damage to our coast caused by the spill."
David Cresson, CEO of the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana said, "Recreational fishing is a way of life in Louisiana, not to mention a multi-billion dollar economic driver. We have the best saltwater fishing in the world, and we simply cannot afford for our fish to be negatively affected in any way by the spill. That is why CCA believes the Marine Fisheries Science Center and Fish Hatchery project is so critical to our recovery. It will allow us to supplement any damaged stocks and be prepared in case of similar challenges in the future. It will provide benefits to Louisiana and her coast for generations."
Chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board Harlon Pearce said, "Development of these restoration projects will help our industry replenish resources lost during the Gulf oil spill disaster and ensure that we maintain a sustainable fishery."
Al Sunseri, owner of P&J Oysters and member of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force said, "For more than a year now, the Louisiana oyster community has sought restoration to our estuary begin following the BP oil spill. I applaud the Governor for working with the state trustees to find solutions for the oyster community. I am hopeful that the NRDA Trustee Council will quickly approve projects that will help oystermen get back on their feet. We need to restore our oyster harvest grounds because we are ready to get back to work."
Dr. John Supan, Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant Bivalve Hatchery said, "The establishment of a Marine Fisheries Enhancement and Science Center is a great addition to the innovative work we have already begun here in Louisiana. Currently, at our hatchery, located at the Marine Research Laboratory at Grand Isle, we can produce up to a billion oyster larvae a year to support public oyster reefs and private oyster farms. This allows us the ability to expand oyster culture technology for Louisiana so that the oyster industry will be less dependent upon wild oyster seed."
Executive Director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Steven Peyronnin said, "The Mississippi River Delta is the cornerstone of a healthy Gulf and the scale and scope of oiled coastline in Louisiana makes it critical to begin restoring these areas as quickly as possible. The State of Louisiana has worked extremely hard to identify a list of shovel ready projects that can use this funding to begin restoring damaged areas immediately and take the first steps toward long-term recovery of the Gulf."
Mike Voisin, Commissioner for Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and Member of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force said, "The oyster community applauds the Governor and appreciates his efforts to help rebuild and rehabilitate oyster habitats in South Louisiana. The challenges presented to the oyster community by the Deep Water Horizon events of 2010 are being dealt with and met head on by our State and its leadership."
Chuck Wilson, vice provost for the Louisiana State University Coastal Fisheries Institute said, "Louisiana Sea Grant is grateful for the partnership with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the opportunity to establish the existing hatchery at the Louisiana Marine Research Laboratory. The timeliness of today's announcement cannot be overstated. We are excited to join efforts with the state to build the nation's pre-eminent hatchery that will help ensure the long-term stability of the oysters industry."
Senior Policy Analyst & Government Affairs Manager for the Ocean Conservancy Kris Van Orsdel said, "Restoring Louisiana's oyster reefs is critical for not only supporting the state's valuable oyster industry but also providing key ecosystem benefits including habitat for fish and wildlife, improving water quality and coastal protection."
"Prompt approval of these restoration projects would provide a vital boost to the Gulf Coast's environmental and economic recovery from the BP oil disaster," said Paul Harrison, senior director for the Mississippi River Delta restoration project for Environmental Defense Fund. "The barrier island project for the Barataria Barrier Shoreline islands and oyster cultch for public seed grounds are especially worthy proposals."
"LOUISIANA PLAN" PROJECTS
* Oyster Reestablishment Program - $15 million. This project has two distinct parts:
o First, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will contract for the placement of cultch material onto selected public oyster seed grounds. Cultch material consists of limestone rock, crushed concrete, oyster shell and other similar material that, when placed in oyster spawning areas, provides a location and substrate for free floating oyster larvae to attach and grow into oysters.
? The Department will place cultch material on approximately 855 acres of public oyster seed grounds throughout coastal Louisiana. The approximate cost of this portion of the project is $12 million.
? The tentative cultch placement locations include Mississippi Sound (St. Bernard Parish), Lake Fortuna/Machias (St. Bernard Parish), Hackberry Bay (Jefferson/Lafourche Parish), Lake Chien (Terrebonne Parish), Sister Lake (Terrebonne Parish), and Calcasieu Lake (Cameron Parish).
? This project employs approaches used by LDWF since 1917. Over the nearly 100 years of cultch planting, LDWF has placed over 1.5 million cubic yards of cultch material on nearly 30,000 acres. It provides positive results, usually in as little as 17 months postcultch placement.
o The second portion of the project involves constructing hatchery improvements to help facilitate and expedite success of the cultch placement. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in partnership with Louisiana Sea Grant, will upgrade the existing Sea Grant oyster hatchery located at the LDWF facility on Grand Isle, Louisiana. The facility will be located next to the Wildlife and Fisheries Marine Lab on Grand Isle at a site owned by Louisiana State University.
* Saltwater hatchery - $48 million. This project includes development of a Louisiana Marine Fisheries Enhancement and Science Center. The center will include: 3 fisheries enhancement and research locations, marine fisheries stock enhancement, aquaculture research and enhancement, and education and science facilities.
o This project would provide facilities for research to allow natural resource managers to develop and evaluate restoration strategies for impacted fish species.
o The fisheries center will also provide state of the art facilities for rearing fish.
o Finally, the fisheries center will include a public outreach component that will be used to inform the public about research and restoration progress for issues related to Gulf of Mexico fisheries restoration.
? The project would be completed in three locations: a 20-acre site in Plaquemines Parish, the existing Marine Research Laboratory on Grand Isle, and a 90-acre site located along the coast in Southwest, LA, which will soon be identified.
Coastal Restoration Projects
* Chandeleur Islands Restoration - $65 million. We will be working with DOI and the State of Mississippi to define a restoration plan for a portion of the Chandeleur Islands, which we know sustained direct impact damage from the spill.
* Biloxi Marsh Shoreline Protection - $45 million. The Biloxi Marsh complex, located approximately 30 miles southeast of the city of New Orleans between Chandeleur Sound and Lake Borgne, provides important habitat in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. This early restoration project involves creating a breakwater structure to protect the existing Biloxi Marsh habitat from erosion.
* Lake Hermitage Additional increment - $13.9 million. This restoration project involves an additional increment of 97.5 acres of marsh creation into a project known as the "Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation Project" that is being funded through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) program. The project is located within the Barataria Hydrologic Basin in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
* Grand Liard Marsh and Ridge Restoration -- $31 million. This early restoration project would restore the eastern ridge of Bayou Grand Liard and the adjacent marsh habitat to the east of the Bayou. The project would restore approximately 18,000 linear feet of ridge along the east bank of Bayou Grand Liard to restore the hydraulic barrier between Bayou Grand Liard and Yellow Cotton Bay.
o In addition to ridge creation, the project would create approximately 328 acres of marsh and it would restore/nourish an additional 140 acres of marsh.
* Shell Island - $110 million. Shell Island is a part of the Barataria Basin Barrier Shoreline (BBBS), and forms a key barrier between saline waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the fresher waters of the Barataria Basin. The island has become fragmented over the past few decades by a combination of strong tropical storms and land subsidence. Restoring the geomorphic and hydrologic function of Shell Island is an important priority for the ecosystems of the Barataria Basin.
* Cheniere Ronquille Barrier Island Restoration - $44 million. This early restoration project seeks to increase the longevity of Chenier Ronquille Island by restoring its dune and marsh platforms. The project calls for the creation of dune and marsh habitat, repair of breaches in the shoreline, and prevention of new breaches over the 20-year project life.
* Bay Side Segmented Breakwater at Grand Isle - $3.3 million. This project will reduce erosion on the bay side of Grand Isle, the only inhabited Barrier Island in Louisiana, with the goal of protecting a coastal area, including wetlands. The areas that will be protected include important residential and commercial infrastructure. This project will include construction of six 300-foot breakwaters (approximately 1.5 miles total) on the back bay side of Grand Isle. This project would complete the breakwater structures along the north side of the island and would protect residential and commercial development.
* West Grand Terre Restoration - $9 million. This project would restore the southwest (Gulf) side of West Grand Terre Island, using sediment pumped from an offshore source area. The total restoration area for this project is approximately 120 acres.
* West Grand Terre Stabilization - $3 million. West Grand Terre Island has some of the highest erosion rates in coastal Louisiana. This proposed restoration project would stabilize the bay side of southwestern West Grand Terre Island, using rock armament.
* Barataria Basin Barrier Shoreline Restoration - Caminada Headland - $75 million. The Caminada Headland is a part of the Barataria Basin Barrier Shoreline (BBBS), and forms a key barrier between saline waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the fresher waters of the Barataria Basin. This restoration project will restore the Caminada Headland portion of the barrier shoreline. The project includes restoration of the barrier shoreline and creation and restoration of back barrier marsh habitat.
* Maintain Land bridge between Caillou Lake and Gulf of Mexico - $71 million. This proposed NRDA early restoration project involves protection and restoration of approximately 1,600 acres of salt marsh, which will reduce current rates of degradation and erosion and sustain the land barrier between Caillou Lake and the Gulf of Mexico. The project goals are to reduce current rates of degradation along this land bridge; and to sustain the coastal ecosystem in this region.
FACTS ON BP OIL SPILL IMPACT IN LOUISIANA
* Federal data shows that that coastal Louisiana received approximately 92 percent of the heavily and moderately oiled shorelines in the entire Gulf of Mexico since the BP-Deepwater Horizon disaster.
* An estimated 60 percent or more of injured, oiled and killed birds, mammals, fish and other wildlife found were offshore Louisiana.
* Even today, 100 percent of the heavily oiled shoreline, over 99 percent of the moderately oiled shoreline and nearly 90 percent of the light or very light oiled shoreline in the Gulf of Mexico is in Louisiana.
* Over 90 percent of the species in the Gulf of Mexico and 98 percent of the commercially harvested fish and shellfish in the Gulf are dependent on coastal Louisiana's unique estuary for sustainability.
* In addition, Louisiana's coastal area is the largest wintering habitat for migratory waterfowl and song birds. Tens of millions of birds winter in Louisiana's coastal area each year.