Governor  Phil  Bryant  announced  today  that  the National Fish and Wildlife  Foundation  (NFWF)  has  awarded a third round of projects to the State  of  Mississippi  totaling  almost  $30 million.  These four projects bring the total to more than $68 million in restoration and planning projects awarded to the state through the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.

NFWF’s  Gulf  Environmental Benefit Fund (Gulf Fund) was created as part of the  settlement  between the U.S. Department of Justice, British Petroleum, and  Transocean  to resolve certain criminal charges against both companies in  relation  to  the  Deepwater  Horizon  oil  spill. Under the allocation formula and other provisions contained in the plea agreements, a total of $356 million will  be paid into the Gulf Fund over a five-year period for conservation  projects  in the State of Mississippi.  Projects are designed to remedy harm or reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 oil spill.

“These projects were directly shaped by the public’s input received as part of  our  planning  efforts,  and they will help the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast enhance and restore habitat, improve water quality, and study ways to increase  oyster  production,”  Gov.  Bryant said. “Additionally, they will strengthen  the partnerships among state and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations  working  together  to improve the natural resources that are essential  for  recreational  and commercial use that are vital to the Gulf Coast’s economy and quality of life.”

“The  selection  of  these  projects  involved  more than a year’s worth of planning,  significant  public  engagement, and the forging of partnerships with  a variety of groups,” said Gary Rikard, MDEQ Executive Director. “All of  that  effort  will  result  in the implementation of projects that will benefit the Coast and its residents for generations.”

Additionally,  the  U.S. Department of the Interior has appointed John Dane III,  at the recommendation of Gov. Bryant, to the NFWF Board of Directors. His  appointment  is  for a one-year term effective Oct. 14, 2015. The NFWF Board  of  Directors provides guidance and support to the foundation, whose mission  is  to  protect and restore the nation’s fish and wildlife species and the habitats they need to survive. Dane  is Chairman of United States Marine, Inc. in Gulfport, Miss., and the recently retired President and CEO of the Gulf Coast Shipyard Group and its multiple operating divisions, which includes Trinity Yachts, a company Dane founded in 1988. He is also on the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s Commission on Environmental Quality that creates policy, enforces rules  and  regulations,  and  conducts studies for using the Mississippi’s natural resources.

The four Mississippi projects are:

Habitat Restoration Federal Lands Program Phase IHabitat Restoration:  Federal Lands Program – Phase I ($9,905,300)

This  project  will enhance and restore habitat on federal lands in coastal Mississippi  including  restoration  of  over 30,000 acres through invasive species  removal,  forest  thinning, and prescribed burns.  The Mississippi Department  of  Environmental  Quality  (MDEQ),  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service will direct
this effort.

Habitat Restoration Federal Lands Program Phase I


Habitat Restoration and Conservation in Turkey Creek Phase IHabitat Restoration and Conservation in Turkey Creek ($7,536,400)

This  project seeks to conserve important habitat and enhance water quality in  the  30,000  acre  Turkey  Creek  watershed  in Harrison County through habitat  conservation and restoration along with stream restoration.   MDEQ will  partner  with  the  Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, the Mount  Pleasant United Methodist Church Environmental Ministries, the North Gulfport  Community  Land Trust, the Turkey Creek Community Initiative, the Turkey  Creek  Watershed  Team, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation
Service in carrying out these project activities.

Habitat Restoration and Conservation in Turkey Creek Phase I


Oyster Restoration and Management Phase IOyster Restoration and Management ($11,780,000)

This  project  seeks  to  improve  oyster populations and sustainability by conducting  several studies to better understand why oyster populations are not more resilient and how productivity can be improved.  MDEQ will partner with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources for this project.

Oyster Restoration and Management Phase I


Design Challenge for Improvement of Water Quality from Beach Outfalls Phase IDesign Challenge for Improvement of Water Quality from Beach Outfalls ($544,600)

Under  the  terms  of  this  project,  MDEQ will host a design challenge to address  the  water  quality  impacts  of beach outfalls on the Mississippi Sound. Individuals  and teams will compete to create innovative solutions for  untreated  storm water and it is expected that the winning design will be implemented at a larger scale across the Mississippi Coast.
Design Challenge for Improvement of Water Quality from Beach Outfalls Phase I