Atlanta — The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) released a draft Initial Funded Priorities List (draft FPL). The Council is comprised of governors from the five affected Gulf States, the Secretaries from the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security as well as the Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Using funds from the settlement with Transocean Deepwater Inc., the Council is seeking to provide near-term, on-the-ground ecosystem benefits, while also conducting planning activities designed to build a foundation for future success as additional funds become available from other parties.

The Council is proposing to focus on 10 key watersheds across the Gulf in order to concentrate and leverage funds to address critical ecosystem needs in high priority locations. The Council also proposes a suite of Gulf-wide investments designed to support holistic ecosystem restoration and lay the foundation for future success.

This draft FPL would fund approximately $139.6 million in restoration activities such as hydrologic restoration, land conservation and planning for large-scale restoration projects. In addition, the Council is reserving approximately $43.6 million for implementation of additional activities in the future, subject to further Council review.

The draft FPL is available for public and tribal review and comment through Sept. 28, 2015.

"The Council is committed to working with Gulf communities and partners to invest in actions and projects that will ensure the long-term environmental health and economic prosperity of the Gulf Coast region," said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Chairperson of the Gulf Restoration Council. "We look forward to hearing from the community on prioritizing the proposed $183 million investment to restore the natural ecosystem, reinvigorate economies, create jobs, and rebuild the environment for generations to come."

The Council will host a series of public meetings across the Gulf Coast to discuss the draft FPL and seek public and tribal comments.

"This draft FPL focuses on key watersheds and estuaries across the Gulf, using foundational restoration techniques tailored to the needs of specific areas," said Justin R. Ehrenwerth, executive director of the Council. "We're fortunate to have a diverse and dedicated group of stakeholders who have helped to get us to this point. Once again, we ask for your feedback and assistance in ensuring that we do the right thing for the Gulf."

Full meeting details and the draft FPL can be found on the Council's website at www.RestoreTheGulf.gov.

The public is encouraged to provide comments online at www.RestoreTheGulf.gov (preferred method); by mail to Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, Attention: Draft FPL Comments, Hale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, Suite 1117, New Orleans, LA 70130; by e-mail to draftfplcomments@restorethegulf.gov; or in person during formal public comment periods at any of the public meetings.

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