Who We Are
The National Wildlife Federation has worked for nearly two decades to improve the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal areas for both people and wildlife. In 2000 we mobilized our members and supporters to help secure Congressional support for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan; we have worked since 2001 to ensure that Texas bays have the fresh water they need to support healthy fish and wildlife populations; and for more than a decade we have championed the restoration of Louisiana’s disappearing coastal wetlands.
In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the National Wildlife Federation worked with our state affiliates and many other partners to secure passage of the RESTORE Act, which dedicates 80 percent of civil penalties from the spill back to the Gulf states for restoration and recovery. Since 2012, we have had staff on the ground in the five states, working with interested stakeholders to help guide the spending of billions in oil spill fines and penalties towards scientifically sound, effective ecosystem restoration projects.
This report is an update to our 2014 priority projects report, Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for People and Wildlife: Recommended Projects and Priorities, which highlighted the importance of healthy estuaries to the long-term vitality of the Gulf. We have developed these new recommendations with that same estuary focus in mind. In this report we have also identified several bays and estuaries that, with some significant near-term funding from oil-spill fines, will be better able to sustain the wetlands, barrier islands, nearshore waters, and other natural resources that wildlife, local communities, and coastal businesses all rely on.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history. In addition to causing the tragic deaths of 11 men, this unprecedented event killed and injured marine mammals, shorebirds, sea turtles, and other wildlife, and damaged the Gulf’s delicate web of life in ways that are still unfolding. Equally precedent-setting is the opportunity for restoration that is now before us. With more than $16 billion dollars available to repair and restore the Gulf’s natural resources, this is the largest environmental restoration effort our country has ever undertaken. But the need for restoration is also great. The Gulf ecosystem supports much of the Gulf economy, and its long-term health has sometimes been sacrificed for the sake of that economy. We have a chance now to repair both recent and longer-term injuries, and every dollar counts.
We hope this report inspires Gulf communities and other stakeholders to engage in the unfolding restoration processes, and that it suggests to decision-makers a path to restoring and protecting a healthy Gulf. The National Wildlife Federation is committed to Gulf restoration and we hope all Americans will join us in supporting projects that will lead us to a healthy and vibrant Gulf of Mexico for future generations.
South Central Regional Executive Director and Senior Advisor
National Wildlife Federation