Mississippi has received $7.5 million for three projects intended to repair environmental damage caused by the 2010 BP oil spill.
As MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, this funding is just the first installment in the millions of restoration dollars the state will receive.
The funding for these three coastal restoration projects comes from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which was created from the government's criminal settlement with BP and Transocean.
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality director Trudy Fisher says Mississippi will receive a total of $356 million from this fund over the next five years.
"The total amount, $356 million -- that's a lot of money, and we want to be thoughtful as we go forward on how we spend this money so that we make a difference," Fisher says. "Shame on us if we don't come out of this with something that is sustainable and that has made a difference."
This first round of grants includes $3.3 million for the state’s Coastal Preserves wetlands areas, which is managed by the Department of Marine Resources.
DMR director Jamie Miller says, "Since Hurricane Katrina, we've had a lot of invasive species that have entered the marshes, those fringe areas, so we have a large effort to try to control that. So this is going to help us in a larger way manage those senstiive areas and keep those invasive species out,and also go and plant those areas that have traditionally been a part of our coastal preserves."
About $1.6 million will be used for a coastal bird stewardship program in partnership with Audubon Mississippi. Jay Woods is executive director of the nonprofit.
The project will expand Audubon's coastal bird survey program, which was started in the wake of the oil spill.
"After the spill it became readily apparent to everyone involved that we had a dearth of baseline data showing where the birds are, what birds are affected, and that really woke everybody up, and we immediately started to say that if this were to happen again, we have got to be better prepared," Woods says.
Also, $2.6 million dollars will be used to create conservation plans for nine coastal streams, including Turkey Creek in Gulfport.