10 Ecological Restoration Projects To Improve The Gulf Of Mexico

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 lead the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council was formed. This council collected data on the spill and continues to restore the Gulf of Mexico to where it would be had the spill not happened.

The Florida Area of the Deepwater Horizon Spill Restoration has restoration projects that aim to restore water quality and wetlands, coastal and nearshore habitats, and protect and replenish sea turtles, marine mammals, birds, and oysters. Here are 10 restoration projects with descriptions provided by the Trustee Council, intended to restore multiple and often interconnected ecosystems:

  1. Beach and Dune Habitat Protection at Gulf Islands National Seashore - This project aims to protect beach-dune habitat and associated wildlife areas at Gulf Islands National Seashore from human disturbance, vehicle collisions, and predators.
  2. Carpenter Creek Headwaters Water Quality Improvements - This project aims to reduce pollutant loading and hydrologic degradation in this 2.6-acre urban watershed. The project includes the acquisition of 6 acres of land for the construction of a stormwater treatment facility. This restored wetland will improve habitats and species that depend on wetland habitats, stabilize the soils, and reduce erosion and sediment loading into Carpenter Creek.
  3. City of Carrabelle's Lighthouse Estates: Septic Tank Abatement - Phase II - This project aims to improve water quality in Apalachicola Bay and St. George Sound by connecting homes near the bay currently served by septic systems to a central wastewater treatment system.
  4. Conducting Habitat Suitability Analyses to Identify Optimal Oyster Restoration Locations Along Florida's Gulf Coast - This project aims to assess habitat suitability for oysters, therefore, increasing the success of future oyster restoration efforts.
  5. Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge Vegetation Management and Dune Retention - This project aims to restore, protect, and enhance coastal wading bird, seabird, and shorebird nesting and foraging habitat on Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge through the chemical removal of invasive vegetation, planting of native plant species, and subsequent reduction in shoreline erosion.
  6. Evaluating Orientation Response of Sea Turtle Hatchlings to Physical Cues on Nesting Beaches - This project aims to investigate sea turtle hatchling orientation response to specific cues related to physical and biological beach features to inform future conservation and restoration actions of nesting habitat along Florida's developed beaches.
  7. Florida Gulf Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network - This project aims to maintain the Florida Gulf Coast's Marine Mammal Stranding Network capabilities to identify, characterize, and quantify marine mammal morbidity and mortality factors and provide conservation managers critical and timely information needed to inform effective actions and plans aimed at mitigating or eliminating threats to marine mammal species.
  8. Invasive Plant Removal at Gulf Islands National Seashore - This project expanded beyond its original intention to treat all invasive plant species found in the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It has now treated 20 species, gradually restoring coastal habitats and native plant species in these areas.
  9. Northeast Florida Coastal Predation Management - This project aims to implement predation management measures at critical nesting sites to increase breeding success for injured bird species such as the state-threatened American oystercatchers, least terns, and black skimmers, as well as Wilson's plovers, a species designated as having the greatest conservation need.
  10. Pensacola Beach Reclaimed Water System Expansion - This project aims to reduce the discharge of nutrients and other pollutants into Santa Rosa Sound by expanding the Emerald Coast Utility Authority's (ECUA) Pensacola Beach Reclaimed Water System. This would be achieved by making additional reclaimed water available for irrigation of more public rights-of-way and making reclaimed water available for irrigation of commercial and residential areas. This project includes constructing pumping facilities, reuse transmission, and distribution lines.

Ultimately, these projects, along with many others under the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council, aim to replenish natural resources and the services they provide that were injured by the oil spill.

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