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Participating in Gulf Restoration

Monday, December 4, 2017
Amy Streitwieser

Amy Streitwieser

Staff Attorney

[Updated December 13, 2017]

November was a busy month for Gulf restoration.

A couple of weeks back, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) held its second annual Restoration Summit.

The Summit was billed as “an opportunity for any member of the public to learn about current restoration projects in Mississippi and the announcement of new projects for 2017.” (It also served as the annual public meeting for the Mississippi Trustee Implementation Group (TIG), a group of federal and state agency representatives overseeing the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) process in Mississippi.)

Waterfront in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The Summit included an open house, where attendees could stop by different tables to chat with organizations involved in the restoration (for example, federal agencies, universities, city government, non-profit organizations) “to learn about current and planned restoration activities.” The open house was followed by formal presentations, where the MDEQ highlighted current Mississippi projects and announced new ones.

At the end of the evening, the public was encouraged to stay for “Stakeholder Conversations” – small-group discussions among community members, facilitated by MDEQ staff, “to inform future project planning.” We participated in a conversation that included a representative from a local environmental organization (and longtime Biloxi resident), a fifth-generation oysterman, and a community leader from a faith-based organization in Biloxi. They each provided valuable insights into the community’s knowledge and needs. If you didn’t have a chance to attend this session, MDEQ is still accepting comments about Mississippi restoration efforts, as well as feedback on the Summit itself, through its website.

There have also been other November opportunities – for example, the Florida TIG held a public meeting on its Draft Phase V.2 Restoration Plan and Supplemental Environmental Assessment (the deadline to submit comments is December 8). And on November 30, the Deepwater Horizon NRDA Trustee Council and the Region-wide TIG held their annual meeting in Mobile. At that meeting, representatives from the Council and the seven active TIGs “[gave] updates on their progress over the last year.” There were presentations and an opportunity for the public to provide verbal comments.

Check our public participation bulletin board for ongoing and future opportunities to participate in restoration.