More Money Released To Restore Nature Habitats In The Gulf Of Mexico

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated areas along the Gulf of Mexico, federal and state officials have released the latest plans for environmental restoration.

By Syeda HasanSeptember 30, 2015 8:30 am,

This story originally appeared on Houston Public Media. Audio will be available shortly. 

You may have noticed the brown pelicans, seagulls and great blue herons on your last trip to Galveston. But researchers say the number of those birds nesting on Gulf Coast islands is declining. That’s due in part to damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The latest plan includes restoring bird habitats on islands in Galveston Bay and East Matagorda Bay. Tom Harvey is with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“So these restoration projects would increase the amount of bird nesting habitat by increasing the size of the islands and also enhance the quality of the habitat for the birds,” Harvey said.

In July, a federal court ordered BP to pay $18.7 billion to affected areas. That money will be distributed over 18 years, but the company agreed to provide $1 billion for early restoration.

Harvey says that money is like a down payment.

“We needed to get started with some types of restoration as quickly as possible and not wait for the complete resolution of the legal case which can take many years,” he said.

A total of 10 projects across the Gulf of Mexico are included in this phase of restoration. An estimated $134 million will be distributed.