The 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.