About 70 people attended a meeting Thursday evening on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to hear about the latest round of oil spill early restoration funding proposals, which includes several local projects. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports.
The fourth phase of early restoration funding from the BP oil spill includes two projects in Mississippi. One proposed project would add bike and walking lanes to roads in the popular Davis Bayou area of Gulf Island National Seashore in Ocean Springs. Dan Brown is the seashore’s superintendent.
"On average about 800,000 visitors a year use the Davis Bayou area. In terms of motor vehicles, it varies, but between 300,000 and 400,000 cars use that road"
Several Ocean Springs and Jackson County residents spoke in favor of the project, which falls under a part of early restoration funding that compensates for lost visitor use. But a number of other speakers expressed their view that early restoration money should be focused on environmental projects.
The other proposed Mississippi project is a $30 million dollar living shoreline program in four areas on the coast, intended to help restore marshes and reefs and reduce shoreline erosion.
"The living shoreline is to try to stop the further erosion of the marshes and to extend them back out a certain distance," says Marc Wyatt, director of the office of restoration at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. "We have some inter-tidal reefs, and those are for secondary production of the different organisms and marine life that's out there, to have a place to reproduce and grow and hopefully product more."
Andrew Whitehurst with the Gulf Restoration Network and others at the meeting asked for more information about the projects.
"There's not a lot of detail right now to use in writing comments, and we found that the last time there was a living shoreline project as well," Whitehurst says. "So it's generally positive for protecting shorelines and re-establishing hard bottoms, but we'd like to see more details."
Public comments on these and the other 8 projects in this phase of early restoration are due on June 19.