On July 17, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced $60 million in new coastal projects to be built and paid for with funds from the settlement of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
“The oil spill impacted Louisiana’s environment and natural resources, but it also took a toll on our way of life and the recreational opportunities that make Louisiana a true Sportsman’s Paradise,” said Gov. Edwards. “Several beaches were closed, access to fishing areas and bays was limited and recreational fishing was cut short as a result of the spill, not to mention camping and other outdoor activities that were put on hold as a result of the spill and the cleanup efforts. The funding provided by this settlement will cover the complete cost of the engineering, design and construction of 23 projects spanning our coast that will directly impact the communities that have been recovering since the spill and we are delighted to see these projects get underway.”
Projects will be constructed in nine coastal parishes, with another project enhancing artificial reef sites across Louisiana’s coast. Potential projects were solicited by the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group and then vetted through months of public input and hearings. Of the projects ultimately selected, 17 were submitted by the state Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries; five by the La. Office of State Parks; and one by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
“This is about recreation, enhancing the opportunities to enjoy the natural bounty of our coast and all it offers,” said Jack Montoucet, Secretary of the Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries. “We’re going to build or improve boat ramps and mooring docks, and construct new fishing piers in many areas, and we’re going to make Elmer’s Island even more accessible for users to access the recently-restored beach.”
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, who experienced the oil spill first hand when he was president of Plaquemines Parish, said he is pleased that our recreational losses have not been forgotten.
“We have beautiful state parks in our coastal zone,” said Nungesser, “and I’m pleased to be in a position to oversee the improvements coming to Grand Isle State Park, Sam Houston Jones State Park, St. Bernard State Park, Bayou Segnette and Cypremort Point State Park. We are very thankful for this oil spill settlement funding in order to refurbish and maintain a number of our state parks – another example of our dedication to Louisiana’s great outdoors.”
The Governor’s Executive Assistant for Coastal Activities, Johnny Bradberry, represents Louisiana’s state agencies on the Trustee Implementation Group. He also chairs the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board.
“These projects comprise the full expenditure of the $60 million pot of money dedicated to addressing recreational use losses,” Bradberry said. “Other post-oil-spill money is, or will be, expended to redress a variety of environmental and economic damages. But I’m pleased our governor cares about all aspects of life in Louisiana, and understands the importance of joie de vivre.”