A Dedicated Issue: Deepwater Horizon, 10 years later
Syed M. Khalil and Gregory M. Grandy, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
Guest editorial board:
Richard C. Raynie, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
Alyssa Dausman, The Water Institute
Ed Haywood, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
Jessica Henkel, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council)
David Yoskowitz, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Gov. John Bel Edwards
Kyle R. “Chip” Kline Jr. and Lawrence B. Haase
Syed M. Khalil and Gregory M. Grandy
A short history of funding and accomplishments post-Deepwater Horizon
Jessica R. Henkel and Alyssa Dausman
This paper provides a short review of the history and accomplishments of the largest funding allocations for research and restoration that have been made as a result of the DWH oil spill. This history provides an important context for the publications included in this 10-year commemoration issue dedicated to Deepwater Horizon.
Coordination of long-term data management in the Gulf of Mexico: Lessons learned and recommendations from two years of cross-agency collaboration
Kathryn Sweet Keating, Melissa Gloekler, Nancy Kinner, Sharon Mesick, Michael Peccini, Benjamin Shorr, Lauren Showalter, and Jessica Henkel
This paper presents a summary of collaborative work, lessons learned, and suggestions for next steps in coordinating long-term data management in the Gulf of Mexico in the years following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DWH). A decade of increased research and monitoring following the DWH has yielded a vast amount of diverse data collected from response and assessment efforts as well as ongoing restoration efforts. To maximize the benefits of this data through proper management and coordination, a cross-agency and organization Long-Term Data Management (LTDM) working group was established in 2017 with sponsorship from NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service Restoration Center (NMFS RC) and facilitated by the University of New Hampshire’s Coastal Response Research Center. This paper will describe the LTDM working group’s efforts to foster collaboration, data sharing, and best data management practices among the many state, federal, academic and non-governmental entities working to restore and improve the coastal environment in the Gulf following the DWH. Through collaborative workshops and working groups, participants have helped to characterize region-specific challenges, identify areas for growth, leverage existing connections, and develop recommended actions for stakeholders at all organizational levels who share an interest in data coordination and management activities.
Gulf-wide data synthesis for restoration planning: Utility and limitations
Leland C. Moss, Tim J.B. Carruthers, Harris Bienn, Adrian Mcinnis, Alyssa M. Dausman
Multiple funding mechanisms support restoration across the northern Gulf of Mexico. To maximize environmental, societal, and financial benefits of these investments, best use of available science is needed to inform project prioritization and planning processes. Synthesizing available data across the northern Gulf of Mexico can provide information on potential threats to, and benefits from, projects or suites of projects. To achieve this, subject matter experts from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas were identified with recommendations from each of the RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence. These experts provided known sources of Gulf-wide data and recommended metrics that would be most informative, resulting in 40 threat, 19 habitat and 10 community primary data layers. Two tessellated geospatial hexagon grids were generated to provide uniform coverage that encompassed a 25-mile buffer of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) boundary at a spatial grid resolution of 100 km2 and 1 km2. The two resultant grid domains included all counties in the five Gulf states determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as contributing to coastal watersheds. The varying grid resolutions allowed for data to be spatially visualized both at a broad Gulf-wide scale on the 100 km2 grid as well as at a regional and project level scale on the 1 km2 grid. The data layers were synthesized into combined layers of potential stress, potential ecological benefits, and potential community benefits. These layers support broad scale prioritization for restoration efforts, based on likelihood of success and desired outcomes. The synthesized data were discussed in the context of the five goals and four priority criteria of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s (RESTORE Council) aim of using best available science (BAS) to guide future funding for restoration at large and small scales.
Ecological benefits of the Bahia Grande Coastal Corridor and the Clear Creek Riparian Corridor acquisitions in Texas
In response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, Congress passed the RESTORE Act to provide funding for coastal restoration and recovery for the affected Gulf Coast states: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The Act is intended to protect and restore the natural and economic resources of the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. Gulf Coast. The environmental and economic injuries caused by the spill were extensive. The legal aftermath of the spill will require the parties responsible to pay substantial damages to address these injuries. Through the RESTORE Act, Congress allocated 80% of the administrative and civil penalties related to the spill to the states and the federal government to restore and revitalize the Gulf Coast. A portion of the RESTORE Act allocation comes directly to Texas. This article focuses on two Texas RESTORE Council-Selected Restoration Component projects funded under the Initial Funded Priorities List (FPL1).
Ecosystem restoration in Louisiana — a decade after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Syed M. Khalil, Gregory M. Grandy, and Richard C. Raynie
Louisiana has a long history of coastal management and restoration actions with multiple projects implementing common approaches. Traditionally, most of the restoration efforts have been ongoing in Louisiana by state and federal agencies through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA). These activities are now being expanded significantly through additional funding and implementing entities such as the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act of 2012 Council, National Resource and Damage Assessment (NRDA) through the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group (LA TIG), and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Considering a broader ecosystem or landscape context for implemented restoration projects can provide a framework for emphasizing commonality of restoration goals. Such a framework allows for multiple benefits of restoration efforts to be quantified, including prioritized natural resources, ultimately assessing the effectiveness of large-scale restoration efforts in coastal Louisiana. Three disasters have completely changed the trajectory of Louisiana’s coastal resto- ration and protection program. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) compelled the state to take serious note of the vagaries of nature, especially high-energy events like hurricanes, and to develop a comprehensive/robust coastal protection and restoration plan. Five years later, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill exposed the fragility of the Louisiana coast but at the same time penalty monies provided much needed funding to implement the state’s coastal protection and restoration plans. This paper provides a high-level assessment of project implementation and makes the case that Louisiana could move quickly in the implementation of various restoration plans because robust and comprehensive restoration plans were previously developed and are available. Here, it must be appreciated that for the first time, dedicated funding is available not only for regional programmatic monitoring to implement adaptive management, but also for development of the art and science of restoration. It is also suggested that for efficient and cost effective implementation of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan federal agencies must work in tandem with the state/CPRA who not only bring the most comprehensive plan but expertise along with institutional knowledge to the table
Event and decadal-scale modeling of barrier island restoration designs for decision support
Joseph Long, P. Soupy Dalyander, Michael Poff, Brian Spears, Brett Borne, David Thompson, Rangley Mickey, Steve Dartez, and Gregory Grandy
An interdisciplinary project team was convened to develop a modeling framework that simulates the potential impacts of storms and sea level-rise to habitat availability at Breton Island, Louisiana, for existing conditions and potential future restoration designs. The model framework was iteratively developed through evaluation of model results at multiple checkpoints. A methodology was developed for characterizing regional wave and water levels, and the numerical model XBeach was used to simulate the potential impacts from a wide range of storm events. Simulations quantified the potential for erosion, overwash, and inundation of the pre- and post-restoration beach and dune system and were used as a preliminary screening of restoration designs. The model framework also incorporated a computationally efficient method to evaluate the impacts of storms, long-term shoreline changes, and relative sea level rise over a 15-year time period, in order to evaluate the effect of the preferred restoration alternative on habitat distribution. Results directly informed engineering design decisions and expedited later project stages including the construction permitting process.
Turning a tragedy into large-scale barrier island restoration in Louisiana: A three-project case study
Steve Dartez, Brett Borne, and Michael Poff
Louisiana has successfully utilized the proceeds from the fines imposed for the Deepwater Horizon incident to significantly jump start barrier island restoration as identified in the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) of Louisiana Coastal Master Plan (CPRA 2017). The Riverine Sand Mining/ Scofield Island Restoration (BA-40) project was the first to be implemented through a commitment of remaining funds in the initial emergency protective berms’ construction budget formulated into the Berms to Barrier Islands plan. The berm/ restoration conversion at Scofield Island was the first to utilize this funding mechanism. The Caminada Headland Beach and Dune Restoration–Increment II (BA-143) project was funded through the National Fish and Wildlife (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund and capitalized on a prior project constructed to the west completing the beach and dune restoration of the entire headland. Lastly, the Caillou Lake Headlands Restoration (TE-100) project was funded through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). The TE-100 project restored the entire degraded beach and dune system backed by a created marsh habitat to complement a prior restoration effort. Scofield Island is located west of the active Mississippi River bird’s foot delta in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. A primary objective of this project was the excavation and delivery of Mississippi riverine sand for beach and dune restoration; a first in our nation’s history. Multiple design and construction challenges arose requiring the CPRA, consulting team, and construction contractor to adapt. Construction of the beach and dune component of this project required approximately 22 miles (mi) of pipeline and four booster pumps along a sediment pipeline corridor that crossed two hurricane protection levees, went underneath two highways and a navigation channel, traversed the Empire Waterway, crossed Pelican Island, entered the Gulf of Mexico, and extended to Scofield Island. The restoration footprint length was approximately 2.4 mi, total volume placed was approximately 3.5 million cubic yards (MCY), and the benefit equaled 510 restored acres (CEC 2014). The pipeline corridor has subsequently been utilized for two other restoration projects, Shell Island East Berm Barrier Island Restoration (BA-110) and Shell Island West NRDA Restoration (BA-111). As a first in Louisiana’s restoration history, the Caminada Headland Beach and Dune Restoration–Increments I and II (BA-45 and BA-143) utilized sand dredged from Ship Shoal, an Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) sand resource located approximately 26-38 mi from the restoration areas. The 13.3 mi long headland was restored with approximately 3.7 MCY for BA-45 and 5.5 MCY for BA-143 from the borrow area (CEC 2015 and CEC 2017). A combination of cutterhead dredge/scow barges and hopper dredges were used to construct the project. A key goal of this project was restoring and protecting the fragile ecosystem which provides critical habitat for nesting shorebirds. The headland is of critical importance in serving as a defense of our national energy infrastructure. The western portion of the headland directly protects Port Fourchon, one of the nation’s most important energy ports. Caillou Lake Headlands (TE-100), known locally as Whiskey Island, is centrally located in the Isle Dernieres chain and it is a remnant of the single, larger Isle Dernieres (Last Island), which was segmented into multiple smaller islands by a major hurricane in 1856. The project included restoring the beach and dune along approximately 4.5 mi while simultaneously creating a marsh platform along approximately 5,500 feet (ft) utilizing 10.4 MCY of sand from the borrow area (CEC 2018). The borrow area lies within Ship Shoal OCS Lease Block 88 located over 10 mi along the conveyance corridor offshore of Whiskey Island. This project represents the largest barrier island restoration project to date in terms of volume per linear foot of shoreline with an average density of over 441 cubic yards per linear foot (CEC 2018)
Restoring barrier habitat in Louisiana to compensate for natural resource injuries: Shell Island and Chenier Ronquille barrier restoration projects
Whitney C. Thompson, Christopher Paul, and John Darnall
Coastal Louisiana received significant funds tied to BP penalties as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. As it is widely considered that the State of Louisiana sustained most of the damage due to this incident, there has been a firm push to waste no time in implementing habitat restoration projects. Sustaining the land on the coast of Louisiana is vital to our nation’s economy, as several of the nation’s largest ports are located on the Gulf coast in Louisiana. In addition, the ecosystems making up the Louisiana coast are important to sustain some of the largest and most valuable fisheries in the nation. Funded by BP Phase 3 Early Restoration, the goals of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Outer Coast Restoration Project are to restore beach, dune, and marsh habitats to help compensate spill-related injuries to habitats and species, specifically brown pelicans, terns, skimmers, and gulls. Four island components in Louisiana were funded under this project; Shell Island Barrier Restoration, Chenier Ronquille Barrier Island Restoration, Caillou Lake Headlands Barrier Island Restoration, and North Breton Island Restoration (https://www. gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/louisiana-outer-coast-restoration, NOAA 2018). Shell Island and Chenier Ronquille are critical pieces of barrier shoreline within the Barataria Basin in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. These large-scale restoration projects were completed in the years following the Deepwater Horizon incident, creating new habitat and reinforcing Louisiana’s Gulf of Mexico shoreline. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) finished construction of the Shell Island NRDA Restoration Project in 2017, which restored two barrier islands in Plaquemines Parish utilizing sand hydraulically dredged from the Mississippi River and pumped via pipeline over 20 miles over levees and through towns, marinas, and marshes to the coastline. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) also completed the Plaquemines Parish barrier island restoration at Chenier Ronquille in 2017 utilizing nearshore Gulf of Mexico sediment, restoring wetland, coastal, and nearshore habitat in the Barataria Basin. A design and construction overview is provided herein.
Double exposure and dynamic vulnerability: Assessing economic well-being, ecological change and the development of the oil and gas industry in coastal Louisiana
Scott A. Hemmerling, Tim J.B. Carruthers, Ann C. Hijuelos, and Harris C. Bienn
The oil and gas industry has been a powerful driver of economic change in coastal Louisiana for the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st. Yet, the overall impact of the industry on the economic well-being of host communities is varied, both spatially and temporally. While the majority of Louisiana’s oil and gas production now occurs offshore, processing the extracted product is an energy-intensive undertaking requiring an expansive network of land-based infrastructure. Despite the positive economic aspects of this development, there are also potential negatives posed to coastal ecosystems and to communities located adjacent to oil and gas infrastructure. This research utilizes a double exposure framework to explore the relationship between oil and gas infrastructure development, fish and shellfish habitat, and economic well-being in Louisiana’s coastal zone from 1950 to 2010. The approach followed four main steps: (1) Developing a hazardousness of place model to identify areas of magnified risk due to the combined hazards of multiple potential exposure sites related to the extraction and processing of crude oil and natural gas; (2) developing a model of ecological functioning to measure the ability of aquatic habitat to support key fish and shellfish species; (3) utilizing an integrated community economic well-being index to assess change on a decadal timescale; and (4) analyzing selected oil-dependent communities to illustrate how change processes occurring in different energy sectors result in differential outcomes. The results suggest that, for many communities, the dependence on the oil and gas industry has increased economic well-being but also increased sensitivity to natural and human-induced changes, including fluctuating economic conditions, environmental stress, coastal habitat destruction, and increasing social and economic pressures.
Strategies to implement adaptive management practices for restoration in coastal Louisiana
Tim J.B. Carruthers, Richard C. Raynie, Alyssa M. Dausman, and Syed Khalil
Natural resources of coastal Louisiana support the economies of Louisiana and the whole of the United States. However, future conditions of coastal Louisiana are highly uncertain due to the dynamic processes of the Mississippi River delta, unpredictable storm events, subsidence, sea level rise, increasing temperatures, and extensive historic management actions that have altered natural coastal processes. To address these concerns, a centralized state agency was formed to coordinate coastal protection and restoration effort, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA). This promoted knowledge centralization and supported informal adaptive management for restoration efforts, at that time mostly funded through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA). Since the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill in 2010 and the subsequent settlement, the majority of restoration funding for the next 15 years will come through one of the DWH mechanisms; Natural Resource and Damage Assessment (NRDA), the RESTORE Council, or National Fish and Wildlife Foundation –Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (NFWF-GEBF). This has greatly increased restoration effort and increased governance complexity associated with project funding, implementation, and reporting. As a result, there is enhanced impetus to formalize and unify adaptive management processes for coastal restoration in Louisiana. Through synthesis of input from local coastal managers, historical and current processes for project and programmatic implementation and adaptive management were summarized. Key gaps and needs to specifically increase implementation of adaptive management within the Louisiana coastal restoration community were identified and developed into eight tangible and specific recommendations. These were to streamline governance through increased coordination amongst implementing entities, develop a discoverable and practical lessons learned and decision database, coordinate ecosystem reporting, identify commonality of restoration goals, develop a common cross-agency adaptive management handbook for all personnel, improve communication (both in-reach and outreach), have a common repository and clearing house for numerical models used for restoration planning and assessment, and expand approaches for two-way stakeholder engagement throughout the restoration process. A common vision and maximizing synergies between entities can improve adaptive management implementation to maximize ecosystem and community benefits of restoration effort in coastal Louisiana. This work adds to current knowledge by providing specific strategies and recommendations, based upon extensive engagement with restoration practitioners from multiple state and federal agencies. Addressing these practitioner-identified gaps and needs will improve engagement in adaptive management in coastal Louisiana, a large geographic area with high restoration implementation within a complex governance framework.
Coastal monitoring and data management for restoration in Louisiana
Richard C. Raynie, Syed Khalil, Charles Villarrubia, and Ed Haywood
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) of Louisiana was created after the devastating hurricanes of 2005 (Katrina and Rita) and is responsible for planning and implementing projects that will either reduce storm-induced losses (protection) or restore coastal ecosystems that have been lost or are in danger of being lost (restoration). The first task of the CPRA board was to develop Louisiana’s first Coastal Master Plan (CPRA 2007), which formally integrates and guides the protection and restoration of Louisiana’s coast. The System-Wide Assessment and Monitoring Program (SWAMP) was subsequently developed as a long-term monitoring program to ensure that a comprehensive network of coastal data collection activities is in place to support the planning, development, implementation, and adaptive management of the protection and restoration program and projects within coastal Louisiana. SWAMP includes both natural-system and human-system components and also incorporates the previously-developed Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS), the Barrier Island Comprehensive Monitoring (BICM) program, and fisheries data collected by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) in addition to other aspects of system dynamics, including offshore and inland water-body boundary conditions, water quality, risk status, and protection performance, which have historically not been the subject of CPRA-coordinated monitoring. This program further facilitates the integration of project-specific data needs into a larger, system-level design framework. Monitoring and operation of restoration and protection projects will be nested within a larger hydrologic basin-wide and coast-wide SWAMP framework and will allow informed decisions to be made with an understanding of system conditions and dynamics at multiple scales. This paper also provides an update on the implementation of various components of SWAMP in Coastal Louisiana, which began as a Barataria Basin pilot implementation program in 2015. During 2017, the second phase of SWAMP was initiated in the areas east of the Mississippi River. In 2019, development of SWAMP design was completed for the remaining basins in coastal Louisiana west of Bayou Lafourche (Figure 1). Data collection is important to inform decisions, however if the data are not properly managed or are not discoverable, they are of limited use. CPRA is committed to ensuring that information is organized and publicly available to help all coastal stakeholders make informed, science-based decisions. As a part of this effort, CPRA has re-engineered its data management system to include spatial viewers, tabular download web pages, and a library/document retrieval system along with a suite of public-facing web services providing programmatic access. This system is collectively called the Coastal Information Management System (CIMS). CPRA and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are also developing a proposal to create an interface for CIMS data to be exported to a neutral template that could then be ingested into NOAA’s Data Integration Visualization, Exploration and Reporting (DIVER) repository, and vice versa. DIVER is the repository that the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) program is using to manage NRDA-funded project data throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Linking CIMS and DIVER will make it easier to aggregate data across Gulf states and look at larger, ecosystem-level changes.
Overview of statewide geophysical surveys for ecosystem restoration in Louisiana
Syed M. Khalil, Beth M. Forrest, Mike Lowiec, Beau C. Suthard, Richard C. Raynie, Ed L. Haywood, Quin Robertson, and Jeffrey L. Andrews
The System Wide Assessment and Monitoring Program (SWAMP) was implemented by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) to develop an Adaptive Management Implementation Plan (AMIP). SWAMP ensures that a comprehensive network of coastal data collection/monitoring activities is in place to support the development and implementation of Louisiana’s coastal protection and restoration program. Monitoring of physical terrain is an important parameter of SWAMP. For the first time a systematic approach was adopted to undertake a geophysical (bathymetric, side-scan sonar, sub-bottom profile, and magnetometer) survey along more than 5,000 nautical miles (nm) (excluding the 1,559 nm currently being surveyed from west of Terrebonne Bay to Sabine Lake) of track-line in almost all of the bays and lakes from Chandeleur Sound in the east to Terrebonne Bay in the west. This data collection effort complements the regional bathymetric survey undertaken under the Barrier Island Comprehensive Monitoring (BICM) Program in the adjacent offshore areas. This paper describes how a study of this magnitude was conceptualized, planned, and executed along the entire Louisiana coast. It is important to note that the initial intent was to collect bathymetric data only for numerical modelling for ecosystem restoration and storm surge prediction. Geophysical data were added for oyster identification and delineation. These first-order data also help comprehend the regional subsurface geology essential for sediment exploration to support Louisiana’s marsh and barrier island restoration projects.
Field of dreams: Restoring estuarine habitat and structure in Mississippi after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
George Shuford Ramseur Jr.
This paper presents a Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR), Office of Coastal Restoration and Resiliency, perspective on adaptation and innovation in restoration permitting, collaboration, and design in an era shaped by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DWH). These adaptations and innovations lay groundwork to support Mississippi’s future address of challenges stemming from its ongoing geomorphic evolution and loss of primary landforms. The Round Island project in Jackson County, Mississippi (MS), will serve as a principal example. Completed through the efforts of four agencies via a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) this project helped break a long-standing practice of dumping large quantities of federal navigation channel dredged materials in an Offshore Dredged Material Disposal Site (ODMDS). Not only were 220 acres of new island and marsh habitat created in the Mississippi Sound, the Round Island project saved millions in federal navigation dollars because it could be more efficiently accessed than the ODMDS site. The Round Island project represents a collective, multi-agency step toward strategic scale, nature-based approaches more capable of managing Mississippi’s burgeoning restoration and resource needs.
An overview of Deepwater Horizon restoration progress in Alabama
Bethany Carl Kraft and Amy Hunter
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill caused extensive damage to the northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, and resulted in numerous fines and penalties that will be available in the coming years for environmental restoration and economic recovery. These funds are jump-starting recovery and restoration efforts across the Gulf region, including in Alabama where more than $720 million has been approved for projects to date. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) oversees many aspects of this restoration effort in the state, leveraging existing planning and stakeholder investments to maximize efficiencies and take advantage of local expertise. This paper provides an overview of a selection of planning tools Alabama utilizes to support DWH restoration efforts and highlights several of the ongoing restoration projects that will benefit coastal habitats and wildlife.
Alabama Swift Tract Living Shoreline: Two years of post-construction monitoring results
Erin Rooney, Jacob Blandford, Estelle Wilson, Dan Van Nostrand, and Dorothy Byron
Twenty-one low-crested breakwaters were constructed to function as benthic habitat and reduce shoreline erosion rates as part of Phase III of the Early Restoration Framework Agreement in accordance with the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. NOAA initiated a seven-year post-construction monitoring plan, of which two years are completed. Post-construction monitoring results so far indicate that the project is currently exceeding biological and shoreline-position performance goals. The project partially meets breakwater elevation goals, but the breakwater appears to be functioning as designed. All annual monitoring reports will be available on the NRDA Trustees’ project webpage at https://www.gulfspillrestoration. noaa.gov/project?id=12.
Research and results from the first four years of the Florida RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence Research Grants Program
Born of settlements surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence Program (FLRACEP) is charged with administering approximately $26 million in research grants for Florida over a period of more than 15 years. Centers of Excellence are selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed process which has thus far awarded $4.3 million in grants to 10 Florida researchers investigating different elements of marine fish and wildlife research and long-term fisheries monitoring. The initial 11 FLRACEP research grants produced 48 submitted or planned papers, and supported 63 students. While these outputs are significant, the FLRACEP Centers of Excellence are tackling important issues in coastal and marine research, resource management, and community resilience. The FLRACEP management team and program staff work to ensure effective program administration and research that is responsive to the needs of the state within the eligible RESTORE Act disciplines. While the program has encountered challenges in its early years, focus remains on the opportunity this funding represents.