Recently, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hosted a public meeting to accept public comment on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council's draft Initial Comprehensive Plan: Restoring the Gulf Coast's Ecosystem and Economy. More than 100 people attended the meeting, the first of two planned in Florida.
"I am again amazed to see the overwhelming support for the Council's good work and the number of citizens attending our meetings to provide thoughtful comments," said Mimi Drew, Governor Rick Scott's representative on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. "I look forward to hearing from others at our next meeting in St. Petersburg."
The draft Initial Comprehensive Plan establishes overarching restoration goals for the Gulf Region, describes how the Council will solicit, evaluate and select ecosystem restoration projects and programs. The goals, objectives and evaluation criteria are intended to guide the Council's ecosystem restoration funding decisions. The goals provide the Council's desired long-term outcomes for Gulf restoration; the objectives outline the broad types of activities that will achieve the goals; and the evaluation criteria are used to evaluate proposals and give highest priority to the programs and projects that best achieve comprehensive ecosystem restoration. The draft plan also describes the process for the approval of State Expenditure Plans that will fund ecosystem restoration and economic development.
The Department provided an update on the Council projects that have been submitted to the state and accepted comment on the draft Initial Comprehensive Plan. An additional public meeting will be held on June 17, at 5:30 p.m. at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.
The Restore Act, which was passed by Congress on June 29, 2012 and signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2013, creates the Council, and establishes various funding categories. The Council is comprised of the five Gulf State Governors and six federal agencies. The Council is required, after notice and opportunity for public comment, to have published an Initial Comprehensive Plan by July 6, 2013
To view or provide comments on the draft Initial Comprehensive Plan visit www.restorethegulf.gov, or submit written comments by mail to Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council c/o U.S. Department of Commerce 1401 Constitution Avenue N.W. Room 4077 Washington, D.C. 20230. More information on the Florida's public meetings and state projects can be submitted online by visiting www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/projects_restore_act.