Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday August 14th 2018

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The Buzz 5/9/13

Oil Spill Restoration Hits Northwest Florida

Millions of dollars look to be headed to Florida to fund environmental restoration efforts following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Much of it is aimed at Pensacola and Escambia County.

“That’s a homerun,” said Escambia County Commission Chairman Gene Valentino.

The Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees has proposed  $58 million in restoration projects for Florida. The money is coming out of a $1 billion pool that BP previously set aside for early restoration; Florida’s allotment is $100 million.

“We’re committed to restoring the environment and economy that families have relied upon in the Gulf for generations,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott following the trustees’ announcement.

The biggest chunk of this wave of NRDA money is headed to Pensacola. Approximately $20 million has been proposed for the Florida Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery.

“This is a huge win for Pensacola,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward.

The hatchery will be constructed at the Bruce Beach site near the Community Maritime Park. It will consist of a saltwater fish hatchery, an integrated coastal habitat plant production facility and an educational component.

Fish raised at the fishery will be released in areas where populations are depleted. The project is meant to address the oil spill’s impact on the Gulf’s fishery.

Another project being proposed is the creation of an artificial reef stretching across five counties. Running from Escambia to Franklin, the project has been allocated about $11.4 million. The reef is meant to improve fishing and diving opportunities.

“It’s not just a reef,” explained Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson. “It’s a series of reefs. That’s huge!”

To date, just over $11 million worth of Florida’s early restoration money has been put to work. This latest phase is the largest allotment thus far. The proposed projects will go through a public input period this summer before being finalized.

In addition to the fish hatchery and artificial reef, other projects slated for this round of early-restoration dollars include:

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