Residents offer suggestions on how to utilize BP settlement money

Residents offer suggestions on how to utilize BP settlement money

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - People gathered in Biloxi on Thursday to give their opinions on how more than $139 million of BP settlement money should be spent along the Gulf Coast, including $23 million in South Mississippi.

"The biggest challenge we have right now is we have more great ideas than we have dollars to fund them with," said Justin Ehrenwerth, the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

Ehrenwerth and the Gulf Coast Restoration Council helped put together a list of projects along the Gulf Coast to be funded by part of the settlement. The council listened to suggestions in an open forum, and among  those giving his feedback was Wildlife Mississippi's Robert Smith.

Smith wanted to show his support for the proposal to purchase land he believes should be environmentally protected.

"Acquiring and helping manage natural habitats, 87 percent of which are privately owned, helping manage those habitats can make a huge difference in the future generations of Mississippi," said Smith.

The council is proposing to spend more than $15 million to acquire land in several areas around South Mississippi including near Gulf Islands National Seashore and DeSoto National Forest.

"The main thing is that we try to preserve those lands so that no other development can come in and also to restore them to help the water quality," said Marc Wyatt of Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. "That will help the oysters, the shrimp and just the overall water quality of the sound."

The Council is also recommending 40 acres be added on the north side of Deer Island using sediment provided by the Corp of Engineers.

The Restore Council will continue taking suggestions until a decision is made later in 2015 on how to use the money.

You can find more information and leave your feedback on the website RestoreThe

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