$130 million approved by RESTORE Council for Maurepas Swamp Project
RESTORE Council has approved $130 million of Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement dollars for the River Reintroduction into the Maurepas Swamp Project.
“The RESTORE Council’s approval of these dollars is good news for the Maurepas Project and a big deal for our fight to reverse the coastal crisis – but it’s a long time coming,” said Congressman Garret Graves. “The reality is that we have been robbed by other states in regard to funding under RESTORE Act, and the Council has used distorted formulas to the benefit of other states with significantly less impact compared to Louisiana; we should have gotten these and other funds long ago. I’m hopeful that today’s announcement is a sign that the RESTORE Council is finally beginning to right their wrongs.”
The Maurepas Swamp Project, administered by Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), is intended to divert fresh water, sediment and nutrients from the Mississippi River to help replenish 45,000 acres of the Maurepas Swamp. Graves said he is working with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to direct other federal funds to complete the $200 million project.
Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) established the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council), in July 2012. It is comprised of governors of the States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, the Army, Commerce, Homeland Security, the Interior and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Restore the Mississippi River Delta – a coalition of national and local conservation organizations committed to coastal Louisiana restoration including Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – issued the following statement in response:
“The River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp project is vital to protecting one of the largest remaining swamps in the Gulf in the face of habitat loss and climate change. The RESTORE Council’s funding of this project will benefit wildlife, such as the bald eagle, that depend on the swamp for habitat and people that benefit from the buffer it provides from storms and sea level rise.
“Louisiana, once known for its abundant swamps, has increasingly become known for ‘ghost swamps’ devoid of life and productivity. We must act with urgency to protect what remaining swamp habitat exists for the benefit of wildlife and people in our state and across the nation.
“While this vote is a big step forward, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the power to help this restoration project advance with greater urgency and at lower cost to the public by including it as a mitigation option for the nearby West Shore Lake Pontchartrain levee project. Selecting the Maurepas diversion for mitigation makes sense for the ecosystem, and will enable the State of Louisiana to commit precious restoration funding to other important projects across the coast. It would also provide the most environmentally beneficial mitigation for the levee project by enhancing the ecosystem the levee project will damage.”