The RESTORE Act also directs that 30 percent of the funds deposited into the Trust Fund (plus 50 percent of the interest) be administered by the RESTORE Council in order to carry out a science-based plan to restore and protect the natural resources of the Gulf Coast Region, without regard to geographic location. The Council is comprised of governors from the five affected Gulf States, the Secretaries from the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security as well as the Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Under the Council-Selected Restoration Component, the Council is responsible for selecting ecosystem restoration projects and programs for funding from among those proposals submitted by Council members.
The Council approved its Initial Comprehensive Plan in August 2013. The plan did not include a priority list of projects to be funded (the “Funded Priorities List”) or a detailed description of how funds will be spent.
Therefore in August 2014, the Council released its guidelines for submitting projects, and announced a submission window closing on November 17, 2014, for Council members to submit project and program proposals for funding under the Council-Selected Restoration Component. The Council reviewed each proposal for its consistency with the Act and the Council’s Comprehensive Plan, as well as the use of best available science and adherence to applicable environmental compliance requirements.
After completing these reviews, on August 13, 2015, the Council released its draft Initial Funded Priorities List for public review and comment.
The public has until September 28, 2015 to submit any comments on the funded priorities list to the RESTORE Council.
On Wednesday, November 12, 2014, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board approved the following five projects for submission to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council for consideration under the Council-Selected Restoration Component of the RESTORE Act.
Two additional proposed projects, Jean Lafitte Canal Backfilling ($8.7M; implementation) and Bayou Dularge Ridge, Marsh and Hydrologic Restoration ($5.2; planning) are also located in Louisiana. These two projects, submitted for funding by federal members of the Council, are complementary to and consistent with the master plan and will directly benefit coastal Louisiana.
Jean Lafitte Canal Backfilling – a project to reclaim 16.5 miles of canals and the spoil deposits associated with them in the Barataria Unit of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve to improve hydrology and restore wetland functions.
Bayou Dularge Ridge, Marsh and Hydrologic Restoration – a project to re-establish hydrologic and salinity conditions, restore the Bayou Dularge Ridge and create and restore marsh to ensure the integrity of the Ridge and health of the marsh.