Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council held first meeting

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Tuesday evening, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council held the first of several public meetings to come.

The coliseum was packed with business owners, community leaders and environmentalists alike. Each of the attendees was hoping to play a part in directing this unique area back to a better place.

"In terms of your questions, what are the long term goals we'd like to see? We would like to see this money spent on the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico. That's what we worked for," David White of the National Wildlife Federation said.

The Restoration Council is made up of six federal members, representing five coastal states. The body of leaders will work hand in hand with residents in each community to come up with how to spend funding allocated for healing the coast of its painful past.

While there were varying opinions on how the money should be spent, one thing people seemed to agree on was that the natural resources on the coast are a priority.

"Let's tighten down on this place that we are polluting and if we have better water quality we can increase our acreage because we can produce the areas we produce from," one local fisherman said.

The Crowd was assured that no decisions have been made yet and that their opinions are of value. They were also encouraged to stay involved with this process.

"The hardest part about this, is we don't know how much money we will have to work with and we don't know exactly when we will have it. We want to make it all as public as possible. To be completely honest, we are at the beginning of this. So we don't have all of the answers in terms of how to set out the deliberations," Council member and Chamber of Commerce representative Justin Ehrenwerth.

The Restoration Council plans to use the input from Tuesday's meeting to come up with a comprehensive plan set to release sometime in the Spring.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.