Audubon Florida News

Topic: Coastal Conservation,Gulf Oil Spill



Audubon Supporters Speak Up for Conservation at June 17 Gulf Council Hearing

posted on June 21, 2013 in Coastal Conservation,Gulf Oil Spill

Faces of Gulf ConservationAudubon Florida’s grassroots were out in force on Monday, June 17 in St. Petersburg to make their voices heard for conservation at the last public listening session of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. The Gulf Council had scheduled hearings across the Gulf region to allow citizens the opportunity to comment on their draft plan for restoring the Gulf Coast ecosystem and economy.

At the St. Petersburg hearing on Monday, six Audubon voices were heard and spoke passionately about the upcoming restoration and funding process – notably Dave Kandz of St. Petersburg Audubon Society and John Hood, president of Clearwater Audubon Society.

Audubon’s Gulf Restoration priorities were well represented and our message that restoring our environment restores our economy was well heard! Click here to see our latest priorities document. In all, three Audubon chapters, two Audubon state offices, and an Audubon Citizen Science program were represented at the hearing – an inspiring and diverse turnout!

Audubon would like to thank everyone who participated in this important hearing and include a special thank you to the Gulf Council for making opportunities to comment in Florida ample.

Please stay tuned to this blog or to the RESTORE Florida’s Gulf eNewsletter for the latest information and next steps on how you can participate in this important restoration process.

 

Audubon’s Eric Draper Testifies on Gulf Restoration Before U.S. Senate Commerce Committee

posted on June 7, 2013 in Gulf Oil Spill

Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper was honored to testify before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, June 6 as part of a hearing entitled Gulf Restoration: A Progress Report Three Years after the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.

Three years have passed since the Deepwater Horizon disaster shocked the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of birds from dozens of species succumbed to the chemical mix during the months when the oil flowed unabated. Gulf residents will never forget the tragic images of wildlife struggling against the oily muck.

“We have a vision that we would like to share which is to treat he Gulf as an entire ecosystem and not a series of fragmented pieces that are cut up by state or county lines.” – Audubon’s Eric Draper

You can watch an archived video of Mr. Draper’s testimony by clicking here. Please note that Eric is on the second panel of speakers. To read Eric Draper’s submitted written testimony, please visit: http://bit.ly/183gf63.

For additional coverage, please see:

Audubon Makes the Case for Conservation at June 3 Gulf Council Hearing

posted on June 4, 2013 in Coastal Conservation,Gulf Oil Spill

maryjeanyon_councilThe Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council kicked off a series of public meetings to receive comments on their draft plan for restoring the Gulf Coast ecosystem and economy. The first meeting was held in Pensacola on June 3.

Audubon was there in full force with representatives from Francis M. Weston Audubon Society, and state and national representatives as well. Audubon Florida Legislative Director Mary Jean Yon spoke to the Council about the importance of securing the future of water birds, shorebirds, and seabirds in the Gulf area by selecting projects that relate to clean water, healthy shorelines, and protected habitat.

You can join Audubon at the next Gulf Council public listening session, which will be held in St. Petersburg on June 17. Make your voice heard for Gulf conservation!

Gulf Council Releases Draft Plan

posted on May 24, 2013 in Gulf Oil Spill

Courtesy of Richard Baker, President, Pelican Island Audubon Society

On Thursday, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released the draft of its Initial Comprehensive Plan for restoration of the Gulf.  This plan will guide how the Council’s RESTORE funds (“Pot 2”) will be spent, and will influence Pot 3 funds as well.  The Council also released the draft Environmental Assessment and a preliminary list of projects.  The Council will not necessarily prioritize or fund these projects.

The criteria for selecting Council projects are not complete.  This gives the public an opportunity to substantially influence the plan’s final content.  Six public engagement sessions throughout the Gulf states are scheduled for June.  A Pensacola session will be held June 3, and a session in St. Petersburg on June 17.  Details will be posted on Audubon’s RESTORE Calendar as it becomes available.

The public comment period ends June 24, and the final plan will be released later in the summer.  Audubon Florida is currently reviewing the plan and will provide supporters with more information in the coming days. Please check back to this website.

Download the Initial Comprehensive Plan by clicking here.

May 17 Key Largo Gulf Consortium Meeting Wrap-Up

SpoonFlight_LarryFrogge

Audubon was well represented at the May 17 Florida’s Gulf Counties Consortium meeting in Key Largo, where the Consortium heard updates on the agreement with the Governor’s Office and the Gulf Council restoration plan.  Gov. Scott is expected to sign the agreement which will define the role of the Governor’s Office and state agencies in working with the Consortium to develop Florida’s Oil Spill Restoration Impact Allocation Plan. Also known as the State Expenditure Plan, the plan will determine how “Pot 3” RESTORE funds are spent. The State’s plan must be approved by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

pete_presentation_keylargoPete Frezza, a research manager at Audubon’s Everglades Science Center in Tavernier, gave an insightful presentation on some of the problems facing Florida Bay, an important habitat for Florida’s wildlife and the larger Gulf ecosystem. Click here to see a copy of Pete’s presentation.

The Consortium also established a committee of the 15 counties from Jefferson to Monroe County to provide input on U.S. Treasury options on how to distribute Pot 1 RESTORE funds among the 15 counties.  A similar committee for the eight counties from Escambia to Wakulla was set up earlier.

Consortium members were briefed on the Florida Keys marine environment and how much influence Keys fish populations and other Keys resources have on other areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Supervisor Connie Rockco, Harrison County, Missisippi Board of Supervisors, made a presentation and commented on how much coastal Mississippi has in common with coastal Florida.  She advocated for the formation of a Gulf state coastal consortium to exercise more influence with Congress on Gulf coastal issues.

All presentations made at the meeting are posted on the Florida Gulf Consortium web site.

Many of Florida’s Gulf coastal counties have formed advisory committees to help shape local priorities for Gulf restoration funds.  Your participation in these committee meetings is important to guide local restoration funds to critical Gulf environmental resources and wildlife.  If you have information on your local committee meetings, please email jwebber@audubon.org so that it can be included on Audubon’s RESTORE Calendar.

Gulf Council Draft Plan Release Imminent

posted on May 21, 2013 in Gulf Oil Spill

100506-N-4281P-001The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council is expected to release the draft of its Initial Comprehensive Plan for restoration of the Gulf within the next two weeks.  This plan will guide how the Council’s RESTORE funds (“Pot 2”) will be spent. Once the draft plan is released, Audubon will post it on its RESTORE Florida’s Gulf web page.

Due largely to the delay in the publication of U.S. Treasury rules that will control spending of RESTORE funds, the draft plan reportedly will not include a project list.  The criteria for selecting Council projects will also not be complete.  This will give the public an opportunity to substantially influence the plan’s final content.

A series of public engagement sessions around the Gulf are being set up.  One session will be in Pensacola, FL on June 3.  Another will be held in the St. Petersburg, FL area.  Details will be posted on Audubon’s RESTORE Calendar as they are released.

The large public turnouts and the well-reasoned comments at Florida’s previous public engagement sessions impressed the Gulf Council staff.  Your continued involvement at public meetings and your written comments are important to ensure Florida’s birds and coastal areas will receive the attention and project funding they deserve.

After public input, the Initial Comprehensive Plan is scheduled to be published on July 6.

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Initial Comprehensive Plan

posted on April 15, 2013 in Gulf Oil Spill

100506-N-4281P-001The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council is expected to release the draft of its Initial Comprehensive Plan in early May, with opportunities for the public to comment in May through June. After public input, the Initial Comprehensive Plan is scheduled to be published on July 6.

Because of a delay in the publication of U.S. Treasury rules that will control spending of RESTORE funds on projects, it is unlikely that the Council’s plan will include a list of projects. Instead, the plan will most likely focus on the criteria to be used in choosing the projects that will be funded from the Council’s share of RESTORE funds.

The best opportunity for funding is to propose projects that meet the RESTORE Act criteria for these Council funds, including large-scale projects that substantially contribute to the restoration and protection of natural resources, including wildlife habitat.

Projects can be proposed through the DEP site or to the Council through email at restorecouncil@doc.gov. Effective ways to propose a project include coordinating with your coastal county RESTORE advisory committee and also supporting Audubon Florida’s efforts.

RESTORE Act Update: Florida’s State Expenditure Plan

posted on April 12, 2013 in Gulf Oil Spill

brown-pelican-wearing-plastic-litter-bib

The Florida Gulf Consortium has voted to enter into an agreement with Governor Rick Scott.  The Governor will appoint six non-voting individuals to advise the Consortium on projects for the Oil Spill Restoration Impact Allocation Plan. State agencies will provide technical advice for the plan, also known as the State Expenditure Plan.  The State’s plan must be approved by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

The process and timing for the development of the plan has not yet been decided, but it will be an open process with public participation. All public proposals submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s web-based application form will be considered.

Stay tuned to Audubon’s RESTORE Florida’s Gulf website to learn about opportunities where you can influence the crafting our State plan.

 

How Will the BP Civil Trial Benefit Florida’s Gulf?

posted on March 25, 2013 in Coastal Conservation,Gulf Oil Spill

FloridaRESTOREpriorities_coverThe civil trial to determine liability in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is underway. BP and its contractors face claims from the federal government, Gulf states, and private parties. The opposing sides have been in talks and the lawsuit may be settled before the judge makes a decision. Either way, the awards will be substantial.

How the funds will be directed to Gulf Restoration, whether through the RESTORE Act, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, or other ways, is unknown, but the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council is already working on its Comprehensive Plan.

You can see the list of potential Florida RESTORE projects that have been submitted to the State for review and possible submittal to the Council here.   The RESTORE Act outlines priorities for the Gulf Council funds, including large-scale projects and programs that restore and protect the natural resources of the Gulf.  You can influence which restoration projects are selected, especially those to help our coastal birds and other wildlife, and the health of the Gulf.  Comments can be submitted to the Council at restorecouncil@doc.gov, and Florida is still accepting project proposals here.

Take a moment to review Audubon Florida’s RESTORE Act priorities document by clicking here.

As you provide comments and propose projects to the Council, please include the recommendations of Audubon Florida, detailed in Florida Gulf Ecosystem Priorities for the RESTORE Act and  Restoring the Gulf for Coastal Waterbirds: A Long-term Vision.

Our strong, consistent voice will influence which projects are selected.

Audubon Supporters Rally for the Gulf at March RESTORE Hearing in St. Petersburg

posted on March 20, 2013 in Gulf Oil Spill

Audubon SpokeOn March 18, 2013, Audubon supporters from all corners of the Greater Tampa Bay Area spoke up for the Gulf at the latest Gulf Restoration Hearing. Thanks to EVERYONE who made their voices heard on this important issue! In all we had over 25 people attend to learn more about the process and tell their story. Great work!

From Left to right:  Karen Fraley, Julie Wraithmell, Jeanne Dubi, Saskia Jane, Jacqui Sulek, Maureen Arnold, Barbara Sheen Todd, Alice Tenney, Janica Johnson, Judi Hopkins, Mark Rachal, Dave Kandz, John Hood, Bob Keim, Irene Keim, Wanda Dean, Dave Howard

Also in attendance were: Dr.Harold Albers, Mary Brazier, Brad Cornell, Pete Quasius, George Willson, Suzi Fox, Mark Mueller and Joy Turner.

 

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