Photo by Lauren Harper
RESTORE Council - In October, the Council concluded a public comment period on their Draft Comprehensive Plan Update. Public meeting summaries are now available. Read RESTORE Council Chair USDA Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack's October 20th blog post on a healthy Gulf. Information on this and other Council activity is on their website RestoreTheGulf.gov.
In Texas - The Request for Grant Applications (RFGA) for the RESTORE Direct Component (Bucket 1) grant funds are still being reviewed. Check www.restorethetexascoast.org regularly for the anticipated release of selected projects.
The Bucket 1 Review Team has submitted its evaluations of the more than 200 project applications, totaling approximately $3.4 billion, received in response to the RFGA for the RESTORE Direct Component (Bucket 1) grant funds. As a reminder, the Bucket 1 Review Team consisted of representatives from several state agencies and the Governor’s Office. Commissioner Baker is in the process of reviewing those completed evaluations and the applications to identify potential projects for funding.
Following Baker’s review, and in collaboration with the Governor, a draft project list will be selected for inclusion in the State’s Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MIP). Under the RESTORE Act this plan is required to secure project funding and will be posted for public comment prior to submission to U.S. Treasury.
Please continue to visit this website for information on when the draft MIP, with the project list, will be posted in both the Texas Register and this website for public comment. Following the 45-day comment period, the finalized MIP will be submitted to the U.S. Treasury for acceptance.
We appreciate the overwhelming interest in the RESTORE Act program and look forward to presenting an MIP to the public that maximizes the benefit of these funds to the environment and economy of the Texas coast.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2016
Contact: Deborah January-Bevers
(713) 524-7330 x 205
Past week, over $50 million in environmental grant applications in Greater Houston Region were submitted to TCEQ to fund projects that will reduce flooding and improve habitat, quality of life and economic development
HOUSTON, TX, April 20, 2016 – This past week over $50 million in grant proposals benefiting the eight-county Greater Houston Region were submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to be considered for funding under the RESTORE Act, part of the gulf oil spill recovery plan. The total amount available for funding under TCEQ’s current request for RESTORE applications is $56 million (www.restorethetexascoast.org).
As part of a two-year effort to create the first-ever 8-county Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan (Gulf-Houston RCP), over 50 partners collaborated together to submit the 14 respective projects, ranging in amounts from $750,000 to over $12 million. These projects allow for hundreds of acres in restored prairies, riparian corridors along 14 creeks and bayous, coastal wetlands, reforestation and nature-based pedestrian trails (see attached Joint Letter of Support from the Gulf-Houston RCP Steering Committee and map of the project locations).
The past week provided plenty of evidence of why these projects are critical to the Greater Houston Region. Upstream prairies and coastal wetlands significantly help prevent flooding of homes and provide hurricane storm surge protection. One acre of prairie land can absorb 9 inches of rainfall per hour before runoff occurs, and will intercept as much as 53 tons of water during a 1-inch per hour rain event. Large-scale tree planting also absorbs tons of water and significantly cleans the air and water in our region.
The Gulf-Houston RCP (www.gulfhoustonrcp.org) collectively identifies our region’s most pressing environmental needs with projects organized into five (5) key initiatives.
- Bayou Greenways Initiative
- Headwaters to Baywaters Initiative
- Prairie Conservation Initiative
- Galveston Bay Habitat Acquisition & Easements Initiative
- Galveston Bay Oyster Reefs & Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative
In addition to the flood control, and water/air quality benefits, the funding and implementation of projects in the Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan will sustain and improve the ecological infrastructure of the Gulf-Houston region and provide the backbone for sustainable growth and economic development as Greater Houston becomes the 3rd largest City in America and the Texas Gulf Coast continues to provide major ports for the United States.
Applications for Texas projects for grant funding under the Direct Component (Bucket 1) of the federal RESTORE Act are now being accepted through the Restore The Texas Coast website until 5:00 pm on Friday, April 15, 2016.
An instructional video with step by step instructions on completing the entire application package (basic application, addendum with environmental checklist and budget) will be posted on the Restore The Texas Coast website on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.
Detailed information on the request for projects can be found in the Request for Grant Application (https://www.restorethetexascoast.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/RFGA-Bucket-1-01-17-15.pdf). The RFGA provides information on the application process, as well as eligibility requirements. See more at https://www.restorethetexascoast.org/.
The total amount available for funding under this request for applications is approximately $56 million. Direct Component grants must support projects that: restore and protect natural habitats; mitigate damage to fish and wildlife; improve state parks in coastal areas; protect against coastal floods; promote tourism and/or consumption of Gulf Coast seafood; or develop the workforce and create jobs in the coastal region.
The review and selection process is competitive and includes elements from other state and federal grant programs. The scoring criteria is based on the Priorities Document.
An initial list of selected projects will be posted for a 45-day public comment period and the final list of selected projects will be included in the Multi-year Implementation Plan required by U.S. Treasury to secure grant funds.
In addition, application workshops will be held in Houston, Corpus Christi and Brownsville.
Over the next three months, Houston Wilderness will provide pertinent follow-up information via email, collaborative meetings and at http://houstonwilderness.org/gulf-restoration-funds/ on RESTORE grant funding and its relationship to the Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan (seewww.gulfhoustonrcp.org). Please also see www.gulfhoustonrcp.org for information on the 5 key initiatives and respective environmental/conservation projects in the 8-county Gulf-Houston Region.
December 18, 2015
In a strong bipartisan action, the Senate voted 65-33 on December 18th to pass the bill that will make the tax incentive for conservation easement donations permanent. This follows yesterday’s 318-109 vote in the House. This legislation has been a priority for the Land Trust Alliance for a decade, and it represents a huge win for conservation, for landowners and for the land trust community. Once signed into law the incentive will be applied retroactively to start Jan. 1, 2015.
Today’s vote also reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund for three years and increased its funding from $306 million last year to $450 million this year.
The enhanced incentives have helped farmers, ranchers and other modest-income landowners increase the pace of land conservation. With the enhancements, land and easement donations can wipe out up to 50% of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (100% for farmers) and any unused portion can be carried forward and applied against AGI for up to 15 years. (Current law allows for a 30% of AGI deduction limit and a five-year carryforward.) The proposed deal includes a new provision that would permit Alaska Native Corporations to deduct donations of conservation easements up to 100% of taxable income.
The Land Trust Alliance has been seeking permanency for this incentive for a decade, and it will have a major impact on future conservation, Shay says. There may not be time to ink conservation deals by year-end but permanency would mean that land trusts can reach out to potential conservationists to start the donation conversation, knowing the tax breaks are in place—a huge benefit.
Thank you to all who reached out to legislators to educate them about both the importance of this incentive and the critical role that land trusts play in communities across the country. And thank you to all those on Capitol Hill who are champions of conservation and this legislation.
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council approved a Funded Priorities List (FPL) this week, which will determine environmental projects and activities that are to receive the first round of funding from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill civil penalties.
The projects on the FPL were selected based on their ability to create a base that future projects can build on, restore the Gulf Coast region’s environmental health and promote its ecosystems and economy. Listed projects include both those that will impact the ecosystem in the near future as well as planning activities.
The council was created by the federal RESTORE Act (Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast Act of 2012), and the FPL marks its first allocation of funds from the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund toward environmental projects.
“The FPL allocates approximately $140 million of project funding. This includes about $26 million for six projects in Texas,” Texas Commission of Evironmental Quality Commissioner Toby Baker, who is on the RESTORE Council, said. “Today’s vote represents a significant milestone in our work to restore the Texas coast and the entire Gulf Coast in general. You can look at this first FPL as a down payment toward future projects that will build upon what we’ve started here.”
More than $80 Million goes toward a third round of Gulf restoration programs
On Tuesday, November 10th the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced the award of more than $80 million from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF). The funding will go toward 22 projects in the states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas. This is the third round of grants from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF). Read NFWF's full story.
- Multifaceted Fisheries and Ecosystem Monitoring in Alabama's Marine $2.1 million
- Grand Bay Acquisition $1.7 million
- Mobile Bay Shore Habitat Conservation and Acquisition Initiative - Phase I $300,000
- Mobile County Conservation Acquisition $4.2 million
- Alabama Artificial Reef and Habitat Enhancement $12 million
Read Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's full announcement.
- Enhanced Assessment for Recovery of Gulf of Mexico Fisheries - Phase III $5,814,200
- Pensacola East Bay Oyster Habitat Restoration- Phase I $1,957,600
- Increased Capacity for Marine Mammal Response & Analysis $4,400,000
- Eliminating Light Pollution on Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches - Phase II $2,115,100
- Water Quality Improvements to Enhance Fisheries Habitat in the Lower Choctawhatchee River Basin - Phase I $931,600
- Florida Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund Restoration Strategy $4,514,048
- Oyster Restoration & Management - Phase I $11,780,000
- Design Challenge Improvement of Water Quality from Beach Outfalls - Phase I $544,600
- Habitat Restoration: Federal Lands Program - Phase I $9,905,300
- Habitat Restoration & Conservation in Turkey Creek - Phase I $7,536,400
Read Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant's full announcement.
- Galveston Island State Park Marsh Restoration & Protection - Phase II $3,234,500
- Galveston Bay Sustainable Oyster Reef Restoration $2,500,000
- Candy Abshier Wildlife Management Area Shoreline Protection Marsh Restoration $245,000
- Falcon Point Ranch Conservation Easement Acquisition $2,910,900
- Matagorda Bay Rookery Island, Feasibility Study & Alternatives Analysis $250,000
- Bahia Grande Coastal Corridor- Boswell-Jenkins Tract Acquisition $400,000
- Bahia Grande Restoration $400,000
- Cow Trap Lake Bird Nesting Island Improvements $440,000
The State of Louisiana works with NFWF via the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA). CPRA is working to address the goals of the Louisiana comprehensive Coastal Master Plan. Read more about how CPRA and NFWF will address these unique coastal restoration needs.
Each Gulf State works with NFWF to solicit and select projects for funding. Go to NFWF's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund webpage and click on the interactive map for how your state implements this funding opportunity.
Track these and other funded projects with the Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker
The United States and the five Gulf states have announced a settlement to resolve civil claims against BP arising from the April 20, 2010 Macondo well blowout and the massive oil spill that followed in the Gulf of Mexico. This global settlement resolves the governments’ civil claims under the Clean Water Act and natural resources damage claims under the Oil Pollution Act, as well as remaining economic damage claims of the five Gulf states and local governments. Taken together this global resolution of civil claims is worth more than $20 billion, and is the largest such settlement with a single entity in the Department’s history.
The United States has lodged in U.S. District Court a proposed, federal-and-state Consent Decree, in which BP will pay a Clean Water Act penalty of $5.5 billion (plus interest), $8.1 billion in natural resource damages (this includes $1 billion BP already committed to pay for early restoration), up to an additional $700 million (some of which is in the form of accrued interest) to address injuries to natural resources that are presently unknown but may come to light in the future and adaptive management, and $600 million for other claims, including claims under the False Claims Act, royalties, and reimbursement of natural resource damage assessment costs and other expenses due to this incident.
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council has released a draft initial Funded Priorities List. TCEQ Commissioner Toby Baker is the Texas appointee to the Council.
This draft FPL, approximately $140 million in restoration activities, includes several projects in Texas. This FPL will be funded from the settlement with Transocean.
The Council will host a series of public meetings across the Gulf Coast to seek comments from the public. The meeting in Texas will be held on Thursday, August 20, in Corpus Christi. It will begin at 6:00 p.m. on the campus of Texas A&M University/Corpus Christi in the Center’s Lonestar Ballroom.
For additional information on the draft FPL, as well as meeting details, visit the Council’s website at www.RestoreTheGulf.gov. Public comments can also be sent to that website address.
Announced on July 2nd, 2015: