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.
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.
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.”