Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; Proposal of Future Early Restoration Projects and Environmental Reviews

The federal and state natural resource trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (Trustees) intend to propose the additional early restoration projects described below to continue the process of using early restoration funding to restore natural resources, ecological services, and human use services injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. All early restoration projects will be selected and implemented in accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the Framework Agreement for Early Restoration Addressing Injuries Resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Framework Agreement), and all applicable legal requirements, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

In addition to the early restoration projects identified below, the Trustees will continue to identify potential additional early restoration projects. Those projects will be subject to early restoration planning. Ultimately, all early restoration plans will be incorporated into a single, comprehensive OPA Restoration Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, which will address natural resource damages resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

    The additional early restoration projects that the Trustees presently intend to propose are described below.

Alabama

 

      Gulf State Park Enhancements (Baldwin County, Alabama). 

This project would restore lost recreational use services and lost dune 

habitat services through the following five primary elements: 1) 

Construction of a coastal ecosystems interpretive center, 2) 

construction of an environmental research and education facility to 

benefit Alabama students, 3) trail construction and enhancement in the 

park, 4) dune restoration along the park's extensive undeveloped 

beachfront and 5) contribute to the construction of a lodge and meeting 

facility to facilitate the enhanced visitor experience. The estimated 

cost of this project is approximately $85.5 million.

     Oyster Reef Restoration in Mobile County (Mobile County, 

Alabama). This project would restore approximately 319 acres of oyster 

reef in the estuarine waters of the State of Alabama. The project would 

utilize oyster shell cultch to restore non[hyphen]producing oyster 

reefs in Mobile County, Alabama, an area impacted by the DWH spill. 

These restored reefs would be in proximity to other reefs that are 

currently managed by the state and will be within the historic 

footprint of oyster reefs in the area. The estimated cost of this 

project is approximately $3.2 million.

     Swift Tract Living Shoreline (Baldwin County, Alabama). 

This project would construct an oyster breakwater/living shoreline to 

stabilize and protect 1.6 miles of shoreline from erosion by dampening 

wave energy while also providing substrate for oyster colonization. The 

purpose is to reduce coastal marsh loss from shoreline erosion and 

reestablish substrate for shellfish colonization. The estimated cost of 

this project is approximately $5 million.

Florida

     Perdido Key Dune Restoration (Escambia County, Florida). 

The project would consist of planting 20 acres of appropriate dune 

vegetation (e.g., sea oats, panic grasses, cord grasses, sea purslane, 

and beach elder) approximately 40' seaward of the existing primary dune 

over a length of approximately 4 miles of frontage. The purpose would 

be to provide a buffer which would lead to enhanced dune habitats. The 

estimated cost of this project is approximately $600,000.

     Pensacola Bay Living Shoreline (Escambia County, Florida). 

By constructing breakwaters, this project would stabilize shorelines at 

Sanders Beach and Project Greenshores Site II areas within Pensacola 

Bay. The purpose would be to protect the embayment and create salt 

marsh habitat by reducing wave energy and providing substrate for 

oyster larvae, which would help restore benthic secondary productivity. 

Also included would be the creation of salt marsh habitat, which would 

help to restore important habitat for many species of fish and birds. 

The estimated cost of this project is approximately $11 million.

     Florida Bay Seagrass Recovery Project (Gulf, Franklin and 

Bay counties Florida). This project would provide for the restoration 

of seagrass beds by stabilizing propeller scars over approximately two 

acres in three Aquatic Preserves within Alligator Harbor, St. Joseph 

Bay and St. Andrew Bay. Also included would be boater outreach 

educational information and Shallow Seagrass Area signage. The 

estimated cost of this project is approximately $2.7 million.

     Florida Cat Point Living Shoreline Project (Franklin 

County, Florida): By constructing a breakwater, this project would 

stabilize shoreline in St. George Sound. The purpose would be to 

protect the embayment and create salt marsh habitat by reducing wave 

energy and providing substrate for oyster larvae, which would help 

restore benthic secondary productivity. Also included would be the 

creation of salt marsh habitat, which would help to restore important 

habitat for many species of fish and birds. The estimated cost of this 

project is approximately $800,000.

     Florida Oyster Reef Restoration (Escambia, Santa Rosa, Bay 

and Franklin Counties, Florida). This project would involve placing 

cultch material over approximately 210 acres for the settling of oyster 

larvae and oyster colonization in the Pensacola Bay system in Escambia 

and Santa Rosa Counties, the St. Andrew Bay system in Bay County, and 

in the Apalachicola Bay system in Franklin County. The estimated cost 

of this project is approximately $5.4 million.

     Florida Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery/Enhancement 

Center (Escambia County, Florida). This project would provide for the 

construction and operation of a saltwater sportfish hatchery. Lost 

recreational fishing opportunities would be restored by providing 

hatchery production and eventual release of sportfish species such as 

red snapper, red drum, and spotted seatrout. The estimated cost of this 

project is approximately $20 million.

     Scallop Enhancement for Increased Recreational Fishing 

Opportunity in the Florida Panhandle (Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, 

Walton, Bay, Gulf, and Franklin counties, Florida). This project would 

enhance naturally occurring bay scallop (Argopecten irradians) 

populations in Florida's panhandle bays to support expanded 

recreational fishing opportunities. The estimated cost of this project 

is approximately $3 million.

     Florida Artificial Reef Creation and Restoration 

(Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay counties, Florida). 

This project would provide for enhancement at different depths, both 

nearshore and offshore, of various permitted artificial reef areas off 

the western panhandle counties. The purpose is to restore lost 

recreational use through improved fishing and diving opportunities. The 

estimated cost of this project is approximately $11.4 million.

     Beach Enhancement Project at Gulf Island National Seashore 

(Escambia County, Florida). This project involves removing tens of 

thousands of cubic yards of asphalt fragments and road base material 

that has been scattered over hundreds of acres and approximately 11 

miles of the Fort Pickens and the Santa Rosa areas of Gulf Island 

National Seashore. The purpose is to help restore lost recreational 

opportunities to the Gulf. The estimated cost of this project is 

approximately $11 million.

     Big Lagoon State Park Boat Ramp Improvement (Escambia 

County, Florida). This project would include adding an additional lane 

to the boat ramp, expanding boat trailer parking, improving traffic 

circulation at the boat ramp and providing a new restroom facility. The 

purpose is to enhance visitors' access to coastal natural resources and 

help restore lost recreational opportunities. The estimated cost of 

this project is approximately $1.5 million.

     Bob Sikes Pier Restoration (Escambia County, Florida). 

This project would improve access to and add amenities of the existing 

Bob Sikes Fishing Pier and parking area. Historically, the Bob Sikes 

fishing pier has provided an opportunity for the general public to 

access the Gulf of Mexico for fishing and site-seeing. The estimated 

cost of this project is approximately $1 million.

     Ferry Boat Access to Ft. Pickens, Gulf Island National 

Seashore (Escambia County, Florida). This project would provide for the 

purchase of two ferry boats for use in a new ferry service. The purpose 

is to help restore lost recreational opportunities by improving visitor access to the Gulf 

Island National Seashore. The estimated cost of this project is 

approximately $4 million.

     Perdido Key Boardwalk Improvements (Escambia County, 

Florida). The project would replace the six boardwalks leading to the 

beach, thus restoring lost recreational use services by improving 

visitor access. The project includes two beach access areas with three 

boardwalks at each location. The estimated cost of this project is 

approximately $600,000.

     Shell Point Beach Nourishment (Wakulla County, Florida). 

The project would provide for beach nourishment to improve public 

recreational opportunities by placing approximately 15,000 cubic yards 

of dredged sand from an approved upland borrow area on about one mile 

of Shell Point Beach. The estimated cost of this project is 

approximately $880,000.

Louisiana

     Louisiana Outer Coast Restoration (Plaquemines Parish and 

Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana). Barrier island restoration would restore 

beach, dune, and back-barrier marsh habitat and will take place at the 

following locations: Caillou Lake Headlands (also known as Whiskey 

Island), Cheniere Ronquille, Shell Island (East and West Lobes), and 

North Breton Island. The restoration work at each island involves 

placement of appropriately-sized sediments to create beach, dune, and 

back-barrier marsh areas; installation of sand fencing to trap and 

retain wind-blown sediments and foster dune development; and 

revegetation of appropriate native species. Louisiana barrier islands 

provide important habitat for a wide variety of fish, shellfish, birds, 

and other wildlife; they also were among the first terrestrial habitats 

to be oiled during the Spill because of their position along the outer 

coast. The estimated cost is approximately $320 million.

     Louisiana Marine Fisheries Enhancement, Research and 

Science Center (Calcasieu Parish and Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana). 

This project would involve the development of two sites in Louisiana, 

one in Calcasieu Parish and one in Plaquemines Parish, into facilities 

that will assist with research and enhancement of marine fisheries. The 

estimated cost of this project is approximately $22 million.

Mississippi

     Hancock County Marsh Living Shoreline (Hancock County, 

Mississippi). This project would construct an approximately six mile 

Living Shoreline to reduce shoreline erosion, re-establish oyster 

habitat, and enhance fisheries resources and marsh habitat. 

Approximately 46 acres of marsh would be constructed to protect and 

restore marsh and 46 acres of sub-tidal oyster reef would be created in 

Heron Bay to protect the shallow embayment and to increase oyster 

production in the area. The estimated cost of this project is 

approximately $50 million.

     Restoration Initiatives at the INFINITY Science Center 

(Hancock County, Mississippi). INFINITY is a state-of-the-art 

interactive science research, education, and interpretive center 

located in Hancock County. This project would provide for the 

construction of wetland walkways, viewing structures, piers and 

interpretive centers. Additional components would include indoor 

exhibits and a greenhouse/nursery for growing native wetland species. 

The purpose would be to replace lost recreational opportunities through 

enhanced visitors' access to coastal natural resources. The estimated 

cost of this project is approximately $10.4 million.

     Popp's Ferry Causeway Park (Harrison County, Mississippi). 

The project would provide for construction of an interpretive center 

with trails and boardwalks, and other recreational enhancements. This 

project would replace lost recreational opportunities by enhancing 

existing amenities for visitors to be able to fish, crab, walk and 

observe nature. The estimated cost of this project is approximately 

$4.7 million.

     Pascagoula Beach Front Promenade (Jackson County, 

Mississippi). The project would provide a two-mile, 10-foot wide 

lighted concrete pathway complete with benches, shower stations, fire 

pits, sculptures, fishing areas and a playground. The purpose would be 

to restore the loss of shoreline recreational opportunities by 

enhancing access to the Mississippi Sound and its natural resources. 

The estimated cost of this project is approximately $3.8 million.

Texas

     Texas Artificial Reef (mid/upper coast; Jefferson or 

Nueces County). This project would provide artificial reef structure 

along the Texas coast. Artificial reefs would be placed offshore if the 

necessary large-scale materials are available or nearshore using 

constructed stable and clean materials. The artificial reefs would be 

developed in existing permitted reef sites. Artificial reefs are used 

by fishermen and scuba divers as recreational areas due to the aquatic 

community that develops in reef habitat. The estimated cost of this 

project is approximately $1.8 million.

     Development of Nearshore Artificial Reefs in the Texas 

Waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Brazoria County, Texas). This project 

would provide for the enhancement of a nearshore reef site off 

Freeport, Texas. The estimated cost of this project is approximately $2 

million.

     Enhancement of the Matagorda Nearshore Artificial Reefs in 

the Texas Waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Matagorda County, Texas). This 

project would include the construction of a new nearshore artificial 

reef site off of Matagorda, Texas. The estimated cost of this project 

is approximately $3.5 million.

     Sea Rim State Park Amenities (Jefferson County, Texas). 

The project would provide for construction of facilities that provide 

enhanced recreation within Sea Rim State Park, including a fish 

cleaning station, restroom facility, and two wildlife viewing blinds. 

The purpose would be to allow for enhanced fishing experiences, 

observation, and interpretive opportunities. The estimated cost of this 

project is approximately $210,000.

     Galveston Island State Park Beach Re-development 

(Galveston County, Texas). This project would provide for the 

construction of multi-use campsites, tent campsites, an equestrian 

trail head, beach access via dune walk-over boardwalks and other 

recreational enhancements on the Gulf side of Galveston Island State 

Park. The purpose would be to restore the loss of recreational 

opportunities by enhancing access to the Gulf. The estimated cost of 

this project is approximately $10.7 million.

Next Steps

     In the coming months the Trustees will provide more information 

about the proposed projects and will at that time invite public review 

and comment in accordance with the OPA regulations, 15 CFR Sec. Sec.  

990 et seq.

 Administrative Record

    The documents comprising the Administrative Record can be viewed 

electronically at the following location: http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon.

On or about April 20, 2010, the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, which was being used to drill a well for BP Exploration and

 

Production, Inc. (BP), in the Macondo prospect (Mississippi Canyon 252-

MC252), exploded, caught fire and subsequently sank in the Gulf of 

Mexico, resulting in an unprecedented volume of oil and other 

discharges from the rig and from the wellhead on the seabed. The 

Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the largest oil spill in U.S. history 

due to the millions of barrels of oil discharged over a period of 87 

days. In addition, well over one million gallons of dispersants were 

applied to the waters of the spill area in an attempt to disperse the 

spilled oil. An undetermined amount of natural gas was also released to 

the environment as a result of the spill. Affected natural resources 

include ecologically, recreationally, and commercially important 

species and their nearshore and offshore habitats in the Gulf of Mexico 

and along the coastal areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, 

Mississippi, and Texas.

    The state and federal natural resource trustees (Trustees) are 

conducting the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) for the 

Deepwater Horizon oil spill under the Oil Pollution Act 1990 (OPA; 33 

U.S.C. 2701 et seq.). Pursuant to OPA, federal and state agencies act 

as trustees on behalf of the public to assess natural resource injuries 

and losses and to determine the actions required to compensate the 

public for those injuries and losses. OPA further instructs the 

designated trustees to develop and implement a plan for the 

restoration, rehabilitation, replacement, or acquisition of the 

equivalent of the injured natural resources under their trusteeship, 

including the loss of use and services from those resources from the 

time of injury until the time they are restored. Pursuant to the 

process articulated in the Framework Agreement, the Trustees have 

previously selected, and BP has agreed to fund, a total of ten early 

restoration projects, expected to cost a total of approximately $71 

million, through the Phase I and Phase II Early Restoration Plans.

    The Trustees are:

     U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), as represented by 

the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau 

of Land Management;

     National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on 

behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce;

     U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA);

     U.S. Department of Defense (DOD); \1\

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

    \1\ Although a trustee under OPA by virtue of the proximity of 

its facilities to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, DOD is not a 

member of the Trustee Council and does not participate in Trustee 

decision-making.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA);

     State of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration 

Authority, Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, Department of Environmental 

Quality, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Department of 

Natural Resources;

     State of Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality;

     State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural 

Resources and Geological Survey of Alabama;

     State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection 

and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; and

     For the State of Texas: Texas Parks and Wildlife 

Department, Texas General Land Office, and Texas Commission on 

Environmental Quality.

 

Background on Early Restoration

 

    On April 20, 2011, BP agreed to provide up to $1 billion to fund 

early restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico to begin addressing 

injuries to natural resources caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil 

spill. The Framework Agreement represents a preliminary step toward the 

restoration of injured natural resources and the lost use of, and 

services from, those resources. The Framework Agreement is intended to 

expedite the start of restoration in the Gulf in advance of the 

completion of the injury assessment process. The Framework Agreement 

provides a mechanism through which the Trustees and BP can work 

together ``to commence implementation of early restoration projects 

that will provide meaningful benefits to accelerate restoration in the 

Gulf as quickly as practicable'' prior to the resolution of the 

Trustees' natural resource damages claim.

    The Trustees actively solicited public input on restoration project 

ideas through a variety of mechanisms, including public meetings, 

electronic communication, and creation of a Trustee-wide public Web 

site and database to share information and receive public project 

submissions. The Trustees' key objective in pursuing early restoration 

is to secure tangible recovery of natural resources and natural 

resource services for the public's benefit while the longer-term 

process of fully assessing injury and damages is underway. As the first 

step in this accelerated process, the Trustees released, after public 

review of a draft, a Phase I Early Restoration Plan/Environmental 

Assessment (Phase I ERP) in April 2012. In December 2012, after public 

review of a draft, the Trustees released a Phase II Early Restoration 

Plan/Environmental Review (Phase II ERP). Collectively, the Phase I and 

Phase II ERPs include a total of ten projects that were selected by the 

Trustees and, after negotiations in accordance with the terms of the 

Framework Agreement, agreed to by BP. Those restoration actions include 

nine separate projects that are ready for implementation, and one 

project that the Trustees have selected for completion for project 

design and final NEPA review. The Trustees have begun implementing many 

of the projects selected in the Phase I and Phase II ERPs.

    In continuation of the early restoration process, following lengthy 

negotiations with BP to secure funding under the Framework Agreement, 

the Trustees intend to propose the additional early restoration 

projects described herein to partially restore injured natural 

resources and lost natural resource services caused by the Deepwater 

Horizon oil spill. If selected, these projects collectively would 

represent close to $600 million in funding (in addition to the $71 

million previously committed) to support early restoration. The 

Trustees anticipate seeking formal public comment on these projects in 

accordance with the OPA regulations, 15 C.F.R. 990 et seq. The Trustees 

intend to evaluate proposed restoration alternatives in accordance with 

all applicable law and regulations, including, without limitation, OPA 

and its implementing regulations, the National Environmental Policy 

Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 

Sec. Sec.  5131 et seq., the National Historic Preservation Act, 16 

U.S.C. 470 et seq., the Coastal Zone Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1451 et 

seq., the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 

U.S.C. 1801 et seq., and any applicable permitting requirements. The 

Trustees will also evaluate the proposed alternatives pursuant to the 

criteria included in the Framework Agreement.

   The Trustees will continue to identify potential additional early 

restoration projects. Those projects will be subject to early 

restoration planning. Ultimately, all early restoration plans will be 

incorporated into a single, comprehensive OPA Restoration Plan/

Environmental Impact Statement, which will address natural resource 

damages resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.