/Audubon makes case for $25 million in projects for Mississippi Gulf Coast

Audubon makes case for $25 million in projects for Mississippi Gulf Coast

Tuesday’s report, Restoring Gulf of Mexico for Birds and People highlights the difficulties that birds and habitats have faced following the Deepwater Horizon oil spillage in 2010. This led to a $20.8 million global settlement. Researchers believe that the damage has been exacerbated by human disturbances, lower water quality, erosion and predation. BP paid $750 million to Mississippi as part of the settlement money. In the last year’s special session, legislators decided to allocate 75 percent of the funds for the Gulf Coast. According to Audubon spokespersons, the settlement also distributed billions of dollars to agencies such as the National Resource Damage Assessment and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. Mississippi will likely receive at least $1.3 million for restoration. Audubon will seek out support from other resource agencies and communities to help mobilize some of these funds. Sarah Pacyna is the program manager for Audubon Mississippi’s Coastal Bird Stewardship Program. “Birds can be a strong indicator about the overall health of our ecosystem in Mississippi and across Gulf,” she said. “If we address the needs for birds in Mississippi, then we will also benefit the people by providing restored beaches to protect from storm surges, clean water for drinking, as well as a healthy environment for tourism and recreation opportunities. The $2.5 million recommended investment in Mississippi covers two projects. “The challenges are enormous, but we have an immense opportunity to save much Gulf Coast habitat for birds and people. David Yarnold is the President and CEO of National Audubon Society. The report recommends 16 state-based projects, 10 regional-wide projects and four open ocean programs, which would collectively restore more than 136,000 acres of habitat to bird and human communities. Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with more context about funding since publication.