Partnership Update

October 4, 2013

Big Crowd, Great Work at Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation 4th Annual Meeting

The PGCLC held its 4th Annual Meeting on September 16th in New Orleans, LA. More than 70 people attended and 21 of the PGCLC’s member organizations were represented. The group worked through a full agenda and made progress on organizational development goals, oil spill restoration strategies, and the Gulf-wide Conservation Vision. View more information, including copies of presentations »

Conservation Planning Materials Available

The PGCLC held a free webinar on conservation planning for member organizations in August. Experts from The Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Fund provided information on a variety of tools and strategies for identifying priority areas for conservation. Materials are now available online »

Second Phase of BP Trial Gets Underway

The second phase of the BP trial began on Monday, September 30th.  The issue to be decided is the amount of oil that was discharged into the sea during the spill. The government is arguing that the amount was 4.2 million barrels of oil, the equivalent of nearly one-quarter of all the oil that is consumed in the United States in a day. BP is stating that the number was closer to 2.45 million barrels. This phase of the trial will also determine if BP prepared adequately for a blowout and if it responded properly once the oil started flowing.

Both sides will present their case in Federal District Court in New Orleans using competing technical calculations over the next four weeks. Hanging in the balance are Clean Water Act fines that range from a maximum of $1,100 for every barrel spilled through simple negligence to as much as $4,300 a barrel if a company is found to have been grossly negligent. The fines will ultimately be used to fund activities defined by the RESTORE Act.

“This will be largely a battle of experts,” Blaine G. LeCesne, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.

The first phase of the trial, which took place earlier this year, centered on whether BP and its contractors were guilty of gross negligence. Read more information »

Deep-sea Ecosystem Heavily Damaged by the Deepwater Horizon Spill

The deep-sea ecosystem around the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill could take decades to recover from the effects of the disaster, researchers reported on September 25th, 2013.

A new study by NOAA found that the sea bottom's rich biodiversity was greatly reduced by the oil plume.  The oil spill and plume covered almost 360 square miles with the most severe reduction of biological abundance and biodiversity impacting an area about nine square miles around the wellhead, and moderate effects seen 57 square miles around the wellhead.

"Given deep-sea conditions, it is possible that recovery of deep-sea soft-bottom habitat and the associated communities in the vicinity of the DWH blowout will take decades or longer," the report concluded. Read more information »

Public Comment Invited regarding Treasury Department Rules for RESTORE Act Funds

The Treasury Department released a draft of the rules that will govern the expenditure of RESTORE Act funds in early September. The public is invited to comment by the November 5 deadline.

The draft rules propose that government entities described in the RESTORE Act ‘apply for funds by submitting a detailed multi-year plan describing the projects and programs it wants to implement. Among other things, the plan must describe each project and program, and provide a budget, milestones, and the criteria the applicant will use to evaluate success. Before submitting the plan, the Gulf Coast State, county, or parish must publish the plan for public notice and comment, a process that Treasury expects will enhance the transparency and quality of funding applications. Applicants will be required to demonstrate compliance with applicable environmental laws.’

The PGCLC will develop comments in consultation with its members. More information »

Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant Program Announced

NOAA recently announced the FY2014 Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant opportunity. The principal objective of the program is to provide federal financial and technical assistance to grass-roots, community-based activities that improve living marine resource habitats through the removal of marine debris. The program is also designed to promote stewardship and a conservation ethic for NOAA trust resources. Nonprofits are eligible to apply. A cost-share or match is required. The estimated total program funding is $2 million with an award ceiling of $250,000. The closing date for grant applications is Nov. 1, 2013. Read more information »

EPA’s Gulf of Mexico Program Partnership Opportunity Announced

Successful proposals for this opportunity will address the following priorities: (1) water quality monitoring and/or improvement; (2) coastal habitat and ecosystems enhancement and/or protection; (3) community resilience; and (4) environmental education on one or more of the following: water quality, coastal habitat and ecosystems, and community resilience. These projects must be in the Gulf of Mexico region and its watersheds in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, including their out-of-geographic-region contributory watersheds.  Project awards will be between $50,000 and $300,000.  The deadline for submitting a proposal is November 12, 2013. A webinar has been scheduled for October 9th for proposers to ask questions. Read more information »

Training Course on Ecological Restoration Offered

A three-day ecological restoration class will be offered by the Apalachicola Bay, Grand Bay, and Weeks Bay Reserves. Participants will learn the principles of ecological restoration including information on restoring specific coastal habitats. The training will be held November 12 – 14 at the Grand Bay Reserve in Moss Point, MS.  For more information contact Larissa J. Graham at 228-475-7047 or visit the website.

Contact

Julia Weaver
Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation
Ocean Springs, MS
228-219-2279
jweaver@lta.org

The Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation is organized under the auspices of the Land Trust Alliance which provides administrative and fiscal support.

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