Gulf Coast Task Force Releases Ecosystem Restoration Strategy
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, chaired by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, today released for public review and feedback its comprehensive preliminary strategy for long term ecosystem restoration. The strategy, which will be presented to President Obama at the end of the public review period, represents an historic opportunity for addressing long-standing issues contributing to the decline of the Gulf's critical ecosystem. The preliminary strategy is the first effort of its kind to be developed with the involvement of parties throughout the region, including the states, tribes, federal agencies, local governments and thousands of interested citizens and organizations. The plan strategy, which builds upon on-going efforts underway in the Gulf Coast states includes specific steps for on-the-ground action and represents the Task Force's commitment to putting Gulf coastal restoration on an equal footing with other national priorities.
One year ago today, President Obama established the Task Force by executive order, in response to recommendations from a report by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, to continue the Administration's ongoing commitment to the Gulf region. The group is made up of representatives from the five Gulf States and 11 federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Council on Environmental Quality, Department of the Interior, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Science and Technology Policy and Domestic Policy Council.
"Even before last year's oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico endured decades of decline that threatened the environmental and economic health of this region. This strategy is designed to prepare the region for transitioning from a response to the spill into a long-term recovery that supports the vital ecosystem and the people who depend on it," said Administrator Jackson. "The health of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem starts and ends with its people and its communities. The individuals and families who visit the Gulf, who work in the region, who depend on its resources, and especially those who call it home, know its needs and challenges best. They will be integral to creating and executing this long-term strategy."
"The Task Force's draft strategy identifies fundamental obstacles that have plagued restoration and protection efforts in Louisiana and other states for decades. The report attempts to begin reversing 80 years of mismanagement," said Garret Graves, Task Force vice-chair and chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana. "It identifies critical issues such as changes in river management, the use of dredged sediment, navigation channel bank stabilization, and the need to expedite the snail's pace process of implementing water resources projects. History has proven that being reactive on disaster mitigation costs exponentially more. This report is an important first step in moving toward a proactive strategy as recognized through the implementation of the state's coastal master plan. There is much work still left to be done and we look forward to continuing to work with Task Force agencies and our fellow Gulf States to finally stabilize our coast and protect the Gulf communities."