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  • Allison Stalker

Obama Establishes New Strategy for Final Restoration of the Gulf

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

The final strategy for long term ecosystem restoration of the Gulf Coast was released on December 5, 2011. The strategy was announced by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force at the 2011 State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit in Houston, TX. The announcement was made by Lisa P. Jackson, EPA Administrator and Task Force Chair, along with Task Fore Co-Chair Garret Graves. They were joined by numerous other Task Force members including Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Nancy Sutley, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair; and Harris Sherman, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

After 40 public meetings throughout the Gulf, the final strategy was developed. The strategy was created by an unprecedented collaboration which includes input from states, tribes, federal agencies, local governments and thousands of involved citizens and organizations, a first for the Gulf restoration strategies.

The announcement included new initiatives, for example $50 million in assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The money will be used to help agricultural producers improve water quality, increase water conservation and enhance wildlife habitat in the seven Gulf Coast river basins.

The Task Force seems to have been met with support from representatives of the Gulf region.

“The Task Force’s Strategy clearly recognizes the critical importance of the Gulf natural resources to our regional economy and workforce,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “In partnership with all Gulf Coast states and several federal agencies and with full input from key parties throughout the region the Task Force has detailed a specific list of coastal restoration priorities that protects the businesses and individual livelihoods along the coast and across the country, in the fishing, shipping, energy production and tourism industries, that are reliant upon a vital Gulf coast.”

According to the EPA news release, a few of the key priorities of this final strategy are as follows:

1) Stopping the Loss of Critical Wetlands, Sand Barriers and Beaches The strategy recommends placing ecosystem restoration on an equal footing with historic uses such as navigation and flood damage reduction by approaching water resource management decisions in a far more comprehensive manner that will bypass harm to wetlands, barrier islands and beaches. The strategy also recommends implementation of several congressionally authorized projects in the Gulf that are intended to reverse the trend of wetlands loss.

2) Reducing the Flow of Excess Nutrients into the Gulf The strategy calls for working in the Gulf and upstream in the Mississippi watershed to reduce the flow of excess nutrients into the Gulf by supporting state nutrient reduction frameworks, new nutrient reduction approaches, and targeted watershed work to reduce agricultural and urban sources of excess nutrients.

3) Enhancing Resiliency among Coastal Communities The strategy calls for enhancing the quality of life of Gulf residents by working in partnership with the Gulf with coastal communities. The strategy specifically recommends working with each of the States to build the integrated capacity needed through effective coastal improvement plans to better secure the future of their coastal communities and to implement existing efforts underway.

To view the entire final strategy, click here.

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