By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–On Wednesday, in a press conference, Governor Robert Bentley announced additional funds that have been negotiated with BP to help restore Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
“It is important to point out that this funding we are announcing today was negotiated separately from the state’s lawsuit against BP which is currently pending. This has nothing to do with the lawsuit that our Attorney General is involved in right now.” Bentley reiterated, “This funding does not release BP from any claims for monetary damages done to the state.”
Alabama is scheduled to receive an additional $100 million to fund three projects benefiting the Gulf Coast specifically in Baldwin and Mobile County.
Bentley said, “This funding will come from the National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). This is the result of extensive negotiations by my office and our entire team that is working to restore the Gulf Coast.”
Bentley outlined three specific projects that would receive the bulk of the funding.
The fiirst project, $85.5 million has been approved for Gulf State Park. This project includes:
• Contributing to a lodge and meeting facility
• Building an environmental research and education facility for Alabama students
• New trail construction and improvements
• A project that calls for restoring the dunes along the beachfront
• Building an interpretive center to highlight the area’s coastal ecosystems
“The first proposed project is a series of improvements at the Gulf State Park. This addresses the loss of human use along our coast,” said Bentley.
The second project, $2.3 million, will be conducted in Mobile County and is specific to the loss of shellfish populations in those areas as a result of the oil spill. The oyster restoration project will involve more than 300 acres of oyster reefs and waters off of Mobile Bay will facilitate restoring oyster shelfs.
The third project, $5 million, is similar to the second project but will be carried out in Baldwin County. Its goal is to create an oyster breakwater/living shoreline stretching 1.6 miles in Baldwin county around Week’s Bay. It is designed to reduce the loss of coastal marsh and establish.
Bentley said that these projects have come as a result of negotiation with the five impacted states and BP. Each state will receive $100 million as a part of what is being called Early Restoration Process Projects.
“The Alabama Gulf Coast is one of our greatest natural treasures. We are committed to restoring and strengthening our coast,” said Bentley. “I made a promise to the people of Alabama, especially the people on the Gulf Coast, that I would work tirelessly to try to have a convention center on the Gulf Coast.”
The “Gulf State Park Bill” is scheduled to appear in the House on Thursday.