July 9, 2015
Deepwater Horizon Settlement Reached. BP to Pay $18.7 Billion.
On July 2, the federal government and five Gulf Coast states announced an agreement with BP that will resolve federal Clean Water Act fines, payments required under the federal Oil Pollution Act's Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, and money owed the states for economic losses. The Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation (Gulf Partnership) believes that the settlement is good news for communities across the Gulf of Mexico region because it ensures that BP will pay billions of dollars on a predictable schedule to restore natural resources that were damaged by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. According to Bob Stokes, Executive Director of the Galveston Bay Foundation and Chair of the Gulf Partnership Executive Committee, “Now that the settlement has been reached our partner organizations are eager to get to work to restore the region’s natural resources and help create a healthier, more resilient ecosystem. The Gulf Partnership urges officials to invest in land protection and restoration as a key strategy in Gulf restoration.”
The Environmental Law Institute has created a helpful primer on the settlement that can be found here: http://eli-ocean.org/gulf/agreement/. For more information about what the settlement means for each of the Gulf States, consult the articles linked below:
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Releases Summary of Resource Summits Focusing on Water Quality, Marine Restoration and Land Conservation.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality held a series of Resource Summits earlier this year across the three coastal counties. The Resource Summits are a part of a $3.6 million planning grant awarded to the State of Mississippi from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This multi-phase, three-year project will develop a comprehensive plan for restoring and conserving Mississippi’s coastal natural resources. For more information and to read the report, visit: http://www.restore.ms/resource-summit-reports/.
Florida Conducts Estuary-Based Planning Effort to Identify Restoration Projects.
In April 2015, Florida was awarded $4.5 million to conduct a multi-component, multi-year integrated planning effort that will serve as an overarching framework for restoring and conserving the natural resources of Florida’s Gulf Coast through the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF). A significant component of the work involves estuary-based planning for six key watersheds in the Panhandle and Big Bend regions: Perdido, Pensacola, Choctawhatchee/ St. Andrew, Apalachicola/Chipola, Ochlockonee/St. Marks, and Suwannee. This project will identify and develop priority restoration projects for future funding consideration under the GEBF. For more information, visit http://www.nfwf.org/gulf/Documents/fl-restoration%20planning-15oc.pdf.
Gulf Partnership Celebrates Successes, Makes Plan for the Future at Annual Meeting.
More than 40 representatives from partner organizations, natural resource agencies, and funders met in Biloxi in June to make plans for the future of the Gulf Partnership. The Gulf Partnership will become an independent organization in the coming months after having been under the umbrella of the Land Trust Alliance for five years. Kevin Brice, Director of the Southeast Program of the Land Trust Alliance announced a $100,000 grant from the United States Forest Service to assist the Gulf Partnership with the transition.
USDA Announces July 15 Deadline for Partner Proposals for Wetlands Projects in Louisiana.
Kevin Norton, state conservationist in Louisiana for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced the availability of $17.5 million in financial and technical assistance nationwide to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on private and tribal agricultural lands. Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), a special enrollment option under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s Wetland Reserve Easement component. It is administered by NRCS. Under WREP, states, local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes collaborate with USDA through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with willing tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties. WREP was created through the 2014 Farm Bill and was formerly known as the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program. Proposals must be submitted to state offices by July 15, 2015. To find proposal requirements, review criteria and submittal instructions, please visit the Louisiana NRCS Website. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/la/home/.
Free Seminars Offered on the Science of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Do you need additional scientific information to strengthen your land conservation proposals? Sea Grant and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative are hosting free seminars to share the latest oil spill science with conservation professionals, policymakers, and the general public. Consider attending these free seminars:
Navigating Shifting Sands: Oil on our Beaches
Wednesday, August 5th, Pensacola FL
Impacts of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to Gulf Wetlands
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, Slidell LA
For more information, visit www.gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/presentations.
NOAA Releases DIVER & Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has released new online tools to support resilience activities for the Gulf of Mexico. The Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper tool supports users undertaking a community-based approach to assessing coastal hazard risks and vulnerabilities by providing maps that show people, places, and natural resources exposed to coastal flooding. Check out the Mapper here http://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/tools/flood-exposure.
DIVER allows users to search the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Damage Resource Assessment (NRDA) data. It also includes pre-2010 historical contaminant chemistry data for the onshore area of the Gulf of Mexico. This is a nice companion for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's DWH Project Tracker. Try out the DIVER tool here: https://dwhdiver.orr.noaa.gov/.
Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust Seeks Executive Director.
The Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust is an accredited land trust located in Seguin, TX. The Executive Director will work closely with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and will have responsibility for managing a variety of land and water conservation projects and the daily operations of the organization. For more information, visit http://www.texaslandtrustcouncil.org/index.php/more-info/job-openings.
Land Trust Alliance to Offer FREE Coaching Sessions for All-Volunteer Land Trusts.
The Alliance is offering FREE coaching sessions to Alliance members that operate as all-volunteer land trust boards (defined as those either without staff or with a part-time staff member). This service is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Land trust expert Donna Erickson will provide advice about board development, fundraising, monitoring easements, and other topics. To register for a coaching session, contact Donna directly to schedule a time and to define the topic(s) your land trust wants to discuss (firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-370-0454).
Gulf Partnership Invites Project Assistance Fund Proposals in support of Due Diligence Costs
Partner organizations are eligible for matching funds through the Gulf Partnership’s Project Assistance Fund. These funds can cover costs such as appraisals and reviews, surveys, title and legal work, and environmental assessments for land acquisition and easement projects. To date, 16 proposals have been approved and more than 25,000 acres will be protected. The Fund is being administered by the Galveston Bay Foundation through a generous grant from the Knobloch Family Foundation. For more information, contact Matthew Singer at email@example.com or 281-332-3381 ext. 206.
Visit our new website: www.gulfpartnership.org. The Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation is organized under the auspices of the Land Trust Alliance which provides administrative and fiscal support. The mission of the Gulf Partnership is to work together across the five Gulf of Mexico states to increase the pace, quality and permanence of voluntary land and water conservation in the coastal region. For more information regarding any item in this newsletter, contact Julia Weaver, Partnership Co-Coordinator at 228-219-2279 or firstname.lastname@example.org.