BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Gulf Coast Restore Council on Thursday released a list of recommended projects that will be funded with nearly $140 million in BP settlement money. Some $21 million is set aside for Mississippi.
Expanding the north shore of Deer Island, purchasing upstream property for perpetual conservation and establishing an education and outreach program. All are included in the recommended Mississippi projects. Nearly $140 million in restoration projects, gulf wide, are on this recommended list to be funded.
The money could be allocated by early next year.
"We're now seeing some of that money start to flow. And so we hope very soon, in months and less than a year now, some of those projects will be on line and we'll start to see the benefit of that restoration," said DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller.
One project in Mississippi involves expanding the northshore of Deer Island by using dredge spoils from various dredging projects.
"We need to build that footprint out to protect that north side of the island. Create some marsh. We've already created about 80 acres of marsh. We think with this additional funding we can do up to another hundred, maybe 200 acres. So it's going to be a real benefit to everyone. You'll be able to see it right there at Deer Island," said Miller.
The most expensive project for Mississippi, $15.5 million, involves land acquisition. Purchasing upstream properties, along the Wolf and Pascagoula rivers for instance, to be used for perpetual conservation. Targeting riverfront parcels could help reduce sediment runoff and improve water quality downstream.
"Restablish long leaf pine savannahs back in there the way it used to be, to help filter the water, the sheet flow that comes down and filter it out. And make the water quality better before it hits the sound," said Marc Wyatt, MDEQ's director of restoration.
Another Mississippi project involves education and outreach; teaching the value of conservation and restoration.
"Setting this up as kind of a pilot project for the whole gulf, and hopefully it will succeed. If it does, it will allow for us to do more education and outreach. To get more people up to date on land conservation and protection," said Wyatt.
The public will have a chance to comment on this recommended list of projects. A public hearing will be held September 10th at the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi.