The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has announced $8.2 million for three Mississippi projects that address high priority conservation needs on the Mississippi coast. The projects, developed in consultation with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and federal resource agencies, are designed to remedy harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
The monies are the first obligations from NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, created earlier this year as part of the settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice, BP and Transocean to settle certain criminal charges against both companies in relation to the spill.
The announcement represents the initial obligation of funds from the first disbursements received by the Gulf Fund. Under the allocation formula and other provisions contained in the plea agreements, $356 million will be paid into the Gulf Fund over the next five years for conservation projects in the State of Mississippi.
One of the 3 projects will focus on expanding the Audubon Coastal Bird Survey program, a year-round volunteer-driven monitoring program for shorebirds that began in the wake of the oil spill. The stewardship program will focus on 22 sites in coastal Mississippi and carry out standardized monitoring; implement best management practices to secure nesting sites and reduce human use and invasive species threats; and educate diverse audiences to increase understanding of the needs and value of coastal water birds. "Audubon is tremendously excited to be selected to assist Mississippi in its effort to restore our state’s natural resources. We are confident that by working with the Mississippi restoration team, under the leadership of Trudy Fisher, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation we will achieve long-term positive results for key bird populations in our region," said Jay Woods, Executive Director/Vice President of Audubon Mississippi.