On November 15th the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced the award of more than $370 million from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund for 25 projects in five Gulf states, including four critical projects in Florida.
In 1984, Congress created NFWF and it has become one of the largest conservation grant-makers in the world. As a result of two plea agreements in the criminal cases against BP and Transocean that arose from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, funding was directed to NFWF to fund projects benefiting the natural resources of the Gulf Coast that were impacted by the spill.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is a beneficiary of this agreement. They will receive over $19 million to continue current conservation programs related to shorebirds, Gulf of Mexico fisheries and sea turtle stranding response. The fourth project will aid the recovery of oyster reefs in the Big Bend region and is managed by the University of Florida.
“This important funding will allow the FWC to continue to do large scale conservation work on behalf of all of the citizens of Florida,” said FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski. “By properly targeting funding from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we can ensure that Florida’s recovery efforts are tailor-fitted to meet the needs of our wildlife and citizens.” Over $11 million will go to restoring Florida’s shorebird and seabird populations. The FWC and Audubon Florida, as project partners will begin to implement Florida’s new beach-nesting bird plan.
“This project complements our Critical Wildlife Areas,” Yablonski said. “This is another way in which we are able to work with our partners to conserve precious shorebird habitat.”
“Shorebirds and seabirds were among the most visible victims of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy,” said Julie Wraithmell, Audubon Florida’s Deputy Executive Director. “The FWC and NFWF’s investment in these important species is helping make the Gulf whole again.”
Photo by Mac Stone Audubon