An egret stands on one of the 23,000 bags of oysters that line the edge of a mud flat on Mobile Bay in Alabama. Volunteers will spend the weekend moving the bags—each weighing approximately 10 pounds—across the mud flat at low tide in an assembly line fashion to create the foundation for oyster reefs to grow, ultimately protecting 1,000 feet of shoreline to help restore the Gulf of Mexico. During the course of this weekend event, volunteers will work alongside Conservancy scientists and partners to construct the first quarter-mile of oyster reef as part of the 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama project. Spearheaded by the Nature Conservancy, Alabama Coastal Foundation, Mobile Baykeeper and the Ocean Foundation, the 100-1000 project aims to build 100 miles of oyster reefs and grow 1,000 acres of marsh and sea grass.
WOPA110201_D101 An egret stands on one of the 23,000 bags of oysters that line the edge of a mud flat on Mobile Bay in Alabama. Volunteers will spend the weekend moving the bags—each weighing approximately 10 pounds—across the mud flat at low tide in an assembly line fashion to create the foundation for oyster reefs to grow, ultimately protecting 1,000 feet of shoreline to help restore the Gulf of Mexico. During the course of this weekend event, volunteers will work alongside Conservancy scientists and partners to construct the first quarter-mile of oyster reef as part of the 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama project. Spearheaded by the Nature Conservancy, Alabama Coastal Foundation, Mobile Baykeeper and the Ocean Foundation, the 100-1000 project aims to build 100 miles of oyster reefs and grow 1,000 acres of marsh and sea grass. © © Erika Nortemann/TNC

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10 Years of Gulf Coast Recovery

Statement of The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico Program Director Bob Bendick on the 10th Anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill was a human tragedy and a wake-up call that made the people of the Gulf region realize the immense value of the Gulf to the quality and character of their lives. The subsequent settlement of the legal claims against BP and other responsible parties did something unprecedented—it set aside a very large amount of money over an extended period of time for the restoration of an entire ecosystem. Because these funds are a function of a court order, they can’t be taken away or used for other purposes.

Now, ten years after the spill, we are seeing tangible progress on Gulf restoration. That progress includes large coastal conservation land acquisition projects, expanding public access to the shore for recreational fishing and other outdoor activities, the creation of estuary planning programs, investments in improving water quality in bays and estuaries, reconstruction of vital coastal features like barrier islands and coastal marshes that help to shield communities from the impacts of storms, protection of marine species like sea turtles and shorebirds, the construction of new oyster reefs, and GulfCorps which trains and employs young adults to repair damaged coastal environments.  

Looking forward, we should view these activities as the foundation for long term care and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico beyond funding from the Deepwater Horizon spill. Since we now better appreciate the multiple values of the Gulf to the communities of the Gulf region, we understand that investments in nature produce remarkable returns in benefits to people, and that when varying interests work cooperatively together, real and lasting progress is entirely possible.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.