The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council this week released its draft plan for restoring the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The Nature Conservancy is among the leading organizations working to restore the Gulf, and issued the following statement from Bob Bendick, Director of U.S. Government Relations:
“Today’s plan is a significant step forward in the Council’s commitment to large scale watershed-based restoration of the Gulf and its estuaries. The health of these natural systems is critical to the future of the region’s economy and its communities. But the plan can still be clearer and more specific about how RESTORE Act funds, should they become available, will be used to achieve restoration goals. The economy and the natural character of the Gulf region are still suffering from the effects of the oil spill.
“A recent bipartisan public opinion poll commissioned by The Nature Conservancy indicates that the great majority of the citizens of the Gulf region still consider the after effects of the spill to be a ‘very serious’ problem for the Gulf states’ wildlife and natural areas. Seventy-five percent of voters in this region agree that money collected from the RESTORE Act should be used primarily for the restoration of beaches, wildlife habitat, coastal areas, rivers and other waters that affect the Gulf Coast. In this plan the Restoration Council has made progress toward a comprehensive approach to ecosystem conservation, but we are not there yet. The Nature Conservancy will provide specific ideas for setting restoration priorities during the comment period on the plan which began yesterday.
“The RESTORE Act offers an absolutely unique opportunity to change the long trajectory of decline of one of North America’s most important natural systems. We will only take advantage of this opportunity, if state and federal agencies work together through the Council to invest not just in a collection of individual projects, but in projects and activities that work together to reinforce each other to improve the health of the Gulf as a whole for years to come.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.