WKRG Staff - MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WKRG) -- Governor Kay Ivey announced Tuesday that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has approved more than $33.5 million for five new projects and amendments to two existing projects that focus on the restoration and conservation of Alabama's natural resources.
"The harm caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill remains ever-present in our minds today," Governor Ivey said. "This additional $33 million in funding for Alabama from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will further strengthen our long-term recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast. The commitment of our local, state, and federal partners to ensure the long-term sustainability of our coastal areas is greatly appreciated."
The projects include:Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Acquisition - $5.9 million
- This project proposes the acquisition of a 251-acre property identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as among its highest priorities in the state of Alabama. The parcel will be deeded to the USFWS for inclusion and management within Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (BSNWR). The property represents an important priority area within the authorized acquisition boundary of the Refuge and includes scrub/shrub, pine flatwood, saltwater marsh, and tidal creek habitats, with permanent and semi-permanent wetlands scattered across the parcel.
- This project will enhance coastal bird habitat along one mile of recently restored beach that is immediately adjacent to a 200 acre bird sanctuary on Dauphin Island. The project will include sand fencing, dune plantings, signage, stewardship, and, if necessary, additional sand placement. Additionally, funding is included to acquire and enhance important bird habitats on Dauphin Island to benefit shorebirds, wading birds and seasonal migrants. Due diligence and landowner outreach will be undertaken as the first step to acquire an estimated 13 acres of undeveloped habitat to protect critically important migratory stopover habitat and facilitate management of contiguous blocks of conservation lands. Lands acquired through this project will be deeded to and managed by the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuary (DIBS). DIBS will also undertake prescribed fire and invasive species management to enhance the ecological value of these newly-protected habitats.
- This project will provide funding to study both nearshore and onshore restoration options for a future project to enhance and protect Little Dauphin Island. Included in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Little Dauphin Island is an important nesting and foraging area for several coastal bird species, including several imperiled shorebird species.
- Phase II of the Mobile Bay Shore Habitat Conservation and Acquisition Initiative will acquire, restore and preserve intact high‐priority, undeveloped properties within three specific areas of the City of Mobile. These three priority intertidal habitat areas include riparian, wetland and upland habitats that are used by a variety of fish and wildlife species injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
- This project leverages the earlier acquisition of the 233-acre Salt Aire property (2015 GEBF) and proposes protection of degraded shoreline and restoration of 30 acres of associated coastal marsh on the western shore of Mobile Bay. Construction of wave attenuation structures and the beneficial use of dredge material for marsh creation are both envisioned. The 2015 GEBF award funded both the acquisition of the property and engineering and design of the requested restoration work.
In 2013, a U.S. District Court approved two plea agreements resulting from the criminal charges against BP and Transocean as responsible parties to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The settlement directs a total of $2.54 billion to NFWF to establish a Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) over a five-year period to support ecological projects in all five Gulf States. A total of $356 million will be paid into the GEBF for conservation projects dedicated to the State of Alabama.
"Today's announcement brings the total amount of NFWF GEBF-funded projects in the State of Alabama to $148 million, and it represents the culmination of close to a year-long process of coordinating with our local partners to identify those projects which will significantly enhance and restore our natural resources into the future," Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship said. "We appreciate the hard work of all involved to bring these projects to fruition."