Partnership Update

September 8, 2011

I. Funding Opportunities

Deadlines are September 15 and September 30, 2011

The Gulf of Mexico Community-based Restoration Partnership

(GCRP) with NOAA's Restoration Center has released the 2011 RFP to fund on-the-ground projects to restore marine, estuarine, and riparian habitats to benefit living marine resources and to provide educational and social benefits by significantly involving the community.

The deadline for proposals is September 15, 2011.  Project funding levels typically fall within the range of $50,000 - $100,000. View the proposal guidelines.

EPA Announces Gulf Regional Partnerships RFP

On, August 16, 2011, EPA announced the release of the “Gulf of Mexico Regional Partnerships RFP 2011”.  This notice announces the availability of funds and solicits proposals for projects that improve the health of the Gulf of Mexico by addressing improved water quality and public health, priority coastal habitat conservation and restoration, more effective coastal environmental education, improved ecosystems integration and assessment, strategic nutrient reductions and coastal community resilience. Projects must actively involve stakeholders and focus on one of the six issue areas contained in the announcement; and/or the goals and objectives of the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program (acres restored, impaired stream/river segments removed and water quality improved.)

The total estimated funding for this competitive opportunity is approximately $3,000,000. EPA anticipates awarding approximately 10 - 50 cooperative agreement(s) from this announcement, subject to availability of funds, the quality of proposals received and other applicable considerations.

The deadline for submissions is 5:00 P.M. Central Standard Time (CST), Friday, September 30, 2011.


II. Public Policy Updates

BP Early Restoration Funding Process Overview

According to federal officials, this early restoration agreement represents a first step toward fulfilling BP’s obligation to fund the complete restoration of injured public resources, including the loss of use of those resources by the people living, working and visiting the area.  The Trustees will use the money to fund projects such as the rebuilding of coastal marshes, replenishment of damaged beaches, conservation of sensitive areas for ocean habitat for injured wildlife, and restoration of barrier islands and wetlands that provide natural protection from storms.

The $1 billion in early restoration projects will be selected and implemented as follows:

Each state – Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas - will select and implement $100 million in projects.The Federal Resource Trustees, NOAA and DOI, will each select and implement $100 million in projects. The remaining $300 million will be used for projects selected by NOAA and DOI from proposals submitted by the State Trustees. All projects must meet the other requirements of the Framework Agreement and be approved by the Trustee Council comprised of all the natural resource trustees.

The Trustees have a goal of announcing the first phase of early restoration projects selected in October 2011.  To meet that ambitious deadline, a number of things need to happen in the next couple of months to comply with the Framework Agreement:

  • Projects proposed by the states and federal Trustees must come before the Trustee Council for vote.
  • Projects that are approved by a majority of the Trustee Council (minimum 4 of 7 votes, with no affirmative objections) will then be negotiated with BP, including assignment of National Resource Damages (NRD) Offsets.
  • Projects will be selected and funded pursuant to the Framework Agreement only if the project and associated NRD Offsets are unanimously approved by Trustee Council and BP, and memorialized in a Project Stipulation executed by each Trustee, BP and the US Department of Justice.  Project Stipulation agreements will be binding.

At some point in this process, a Draft Early Restoration Plan describing the selected projects will be circulated for public review and comment.  NEPA review of the projects must also be conducted. No announcements have been made regarding these when/how this will be done.   

Land Trusts and other private land conservation groups have contributed project ideas to the Trustees for consideration.  There is some confusion about the role that private land conservation will play in the BP restoration process.  The NRDA process is designed to compensate the public for injury to natural resources.  Some entities have interpreted this to mean that only publicly owned lands are eligible to participate.  The Partnership needs to clarify the ways in which nonprofits and private land owners may participate in the restoration process.

How can my organization participate in this process?

  • Contact your state Trustee and advocate for your projects
  • Ask your state Trustee if lands owned by nonprofits and private landowners are eligible for land acquisition and restoration funds
  • Stay tuned to the Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation for information

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force is charged with development of a restoration strategy that proposes a Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration agenda and will release a report on October 5, 2011.

The Task Force was charged with developing plans to effectively address the damage caused by the oil spill and to address other longstanding issues effecting ecological decline. The task force is directed to:

  • Define ecosystem restoration goals and describe milestones towards reaching those goals;
  • Consider existing research and ecosystem restoration planning efforts;
  • Identify major policy areas where coordinated actions between government agencies is needed; and
  • Evaluate existing research and monitoring programs and gaps in data collection

The Task Force is an advisory body comprised of lead officials from the five Gulf states appointed by the President upon recommendation of each Governor, and 11 Federal agencies and White House offices.

The final meeting of the Task Force before it releases its restoration strategy on October 5, 2011 was in Biloxi, MS on August 30. Members of the Partnership participated in this meeting and advocated for policies and funding that will increase the pace and effectiveness of private lands conservation in the region. It is expected that the Task Force strategy will provide a framework for the BP Restoration Trustees and for federal policies and investment in the region.


III. Studies and Reports

The Partnership will forward studies and reports that may be helpful to member organizations in their planning and activities.


NOAA 2011 Gulf of Mexico Report

The Gulf of Mexico at a Glance: A Second Glance provides highlights of what we know about the Gulf region’s coastal communities, coastal economy, and coastal ecosystems, and how climate change might impact the Gulf coast. Learn more.

Gulf Future: A Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf

This plan was drafted in 2011 by a coalition of environmental, social justice, and faith-based groups in response to the BP Oil Spill.  This plan emphasizes the need for coastal and marine restoration as well as strategies to address economic and public health problems. Learn more.

Strategy for Restoring the Gulf of Mexico: Recommendations to the Ecosystem Restoration Task Force

This document represents the recommendations of some of our national partners, including the National Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, and Audubon.  It presents a strategy that maps the road to recovery for a healthy and resilient Gulf of Mexico. This Strategy identifies four priorities for protection and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico with goals and outcomes supporting each priority. These priorities and activities are intended to contribute to the protection and restoration of the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, while addressing the more systemic problems that are the result of decades of environmental decline. This Strategy integrates the vast knowledge of the numerous institutions and individuals that have been conserving and restoring the Gulf for more than 40 years. Learn more.


Contact

For more information about this update, contact one of the partnership coordinators:

Julia Weaver
jweaver@lta.org
228-219-2279

Liz Barber
lbarber@lta.org
601-214-3093

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