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NC House Committee on Wetland and Stream Mitigation to meet Feb. 27

NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The House Committee on Wetland and Stream Mitigation (LRC)(2013) will meet at the following time:

Thursday

February 27, 2014

9:00 AM

544 Legislative Office Bldg

Map: http://www.ncleg.net/graphics/downtownmap.pdf

Co-Chairs
Rep. David R. Lewis (Co-Chair) House Appointment
Rep. Chris Millis (Co-Chair) House Appointment
Legislative Members
Rep. Kelly M. Alexander, Jr. House Appointment
Rep. Becky Carney House Appointment
Rep. Rick Catlin House Appointment
Rep. Kelly E. Hastings House Appointment
Rep. Charles Jeter House Appointment
Rep. Chuck McGrady House Appointment
Rep. Garland E. Pierce House Appointment
Rep. Phil Shepard House Appointment
Rep. Paul Stam House Appointment
LRC Member
Rep. Tim Moore Ex Officio

Game On: RS project at Jesuit Bend makes BP restoration list

RS was thrilled to see a welcome surprise in the Sunday email today.  The Jesuit Bend Coastal Protection and Restoration Site has made the long “Master List” of projects to be considered for restoration using the first $1 billion tranche of BP Natural Resource Damages funding pursuant to the Early Restoration Agreement penned on April 22.

Jesuit Bend is likely an out-lier on this list. I am guessing that not a single project of the 300 presented is a flat-priced, surety bonded, multi-year turn-key professional contract like JB.  Without question there are dozens upon dozens of great places to perform coastal restoration on this list, with many capable sponsors. But it is our hope Jesuit Bend is one of the few that is truly shovel ready and professionally insured.

For instance, we own the land. Actually having fee-title control of the property makes it a lot easier to begin restoration.  No oyster leases to buy out, no obscure title problems, and no real estates assemblages from multiple landowners. We could slap an easement (or “servitude,” in Napoleonic vernacular) on the property in short order.  I also bet there are very few projects that have two dredges ready to go. We estimate we could pump river mud within ninety days of Notice to Proceed.

We will keep you up on the progress. As is clear in the website announcing the projects, this is the beginning — not the end — of the process.  I am just thankful it is not the beginning OF the end!

Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Early Restoration

Submitted BP oil spill Restoration Projects

Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) is a legal process whereby trustees represent the public interest to ensure that natural resources injured in an oil spill are restored. The trustees assess the injuries to our natural resources from a spill, develop restoration plan(s) and implement those plans in order to compensate the public for the injuries incurred.

Making the environment and public whole includes both restoring injured resources to the condition they would have been in had the spill not occurred as well as compensating for the temporal loss of natural resources, and the ecosystem services they provide, from the time of injury until the time they are fully restored.

Typically, in the NRDA process, the trustees will develop a restoration plan or series of plans to compensate for those injuries after the injuries are assessed and the scope and scale of those injuries is determined. However, plans for early restoration projects may be developed prior to the completion of the injury assessment, when opportunities arise, to achieve restoration faster.

On April 21, 2011, the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) trustees reached an agreement whereby BP committed $1 billion to fund early restoration projects. These funds will be divided among the trustees pursuant to the early restoration allocation agreement. $500 million will be split equally among the Gulf State Trustees (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas); $200 million will be split equally among the Federal Trustees (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Interior); and $300 million will be used to fund state sponsored restoration projects based upon impacts. Louisiana first made the request for BP to fund early restoration in July 2010 and laid the groundwork for this negotiation.

The State of Louisiana is currently engaged in the process of selecting potential early restoration projects, as are other impacted state and federal trustees.

For the past year, Louisiana has worked with coastal stakeholders through a variety of public outreach and coordination efforts to build a master list of potential projects for both early and long-term restoration of the State’s natural resources that were injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Through the combination of a concerted stakeholder and public outreach effort and the State’s Regional Restoration Planning Program, Louisiana has compiled a list of over 300 restoration project candidates. These projects reflect the ideas and input of a variety of coastal stakeholders. Click HERE to view the current master list.

Louisiana continues to accept restoration project submittals. Project proposals may be submitted online at http://losco-dwh.com/.

Projects received through June 25, 2011 will be analyzed by the State’s natural resource trustees for potential inclusion in an early restoration plan. Projects submitted after this date and those not selected for the initial phase of early restoration planning will be considered for future stages of both early and long-term restoration.

The State of Louisiana remains committed to outreach and engagement efforts and will continue in those efforts throughout the NRDA process. In addition to our regularly scheduled monthly coastal stakeholders meetings, we will also hold a public meeting to solicit early restoration projects on June 20, 2011 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm in Room 110 in Weinmann Hall at Tulane University School of Law.

BP coastal restoration down payment of $1 billion includes $100 million for Louisiana

By Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune

BP has reached an unprecedented agreement with coastal states and two federal agencies to make a $1 billion advance payment for restoration projects to compensate for damage to natural resources caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The money will go to the Natural Resource Trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which includes the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas, the Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The trustees will use the money to pay for projects such as rebuilding coastal marshes, replenishing damaged beaches, conservation of sensitive areas for ocean habitat for injured wildlife, and restoring barrier islands and wetlands.

Some of the money may also go to projects that support recreational fishing, such as public boat launches or docks, or fish hatcheries.

Louisiana and the other states will each be given $100 million. NOAA and the Interior Department also will be given an initial $100 million. The remaining $300 million will be divided between NOAA and Interior to be used for projects selected by them from proposals submitted by the states.

The first $500 million will be forwarded within 45 days, with a second $500 million provided in six months.

The projects must be approved by a Trustee Council that includes representatives of all trustees. The proposals also will undergo public review before final approval.

Lights, Camera, Action: Cripple Creek Stream and Wetland Mitigation Bank Under Construction

RS is trying out some fun new technology from “PlantCam” and recording time-lapse video of a restoration project we have underway in Alamance County, NC.   Photographed here is the initial period of construction on a small portion of the Cripple Creek Stream and Wetland Mitigation Bank, a fully permitted mitigation bank servicing the Piedmont Triad Region and the Cape Fear 02 Watershed.

We have another camera on-site which is recording activity on a longer strech of the project from a different perspective.  We will put that video up as well when we get it.  Eventually, we will have two videos of the entire project beginning to end.  But we are excited to see the first experimental “cut” and wanted to show it off — straight from the cutting-room.

GObama!: President says clean-up to be followed by massive wetland restoration effort

Wetlands restoration plan is huge undertaking for White House

The ambitious effort may find the Obama administration in a political morass over how best to manage the lower Mississippi River, an issue that has stymied generations of political figures.

From: LA Times

President Obama’s announcement of an ambitious plan to restore Louisiana’s wetlands promises to ensnare the administration in a long-standing political morass over how best to manage the lower Mississippi River.

The size, scope and details of the restoration plan Obama announced Tuesday are still taking shape under the guidance of Navy Secretary and former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said. Obama asked Mabus to assess the gulf needs and complete his restoration plan to address them “as soon as possible,” aides said.

It appears likely that the environmental component of that plan will go far beyond cleaning up beaches and marshlands tainted by spilled oil, to rebuilding and restoring coastal areas that have suffered for decades from erosion, the impacts of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, commercial activities and other ills.

“Beyond compensating the people of the gulf in the short term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region,” Obama said in a nationally televised address. “The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that has already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats.”

Read more

Video: Chuck Fox of EPA on the Chesapeake Bay Strategy

You gotta be a real water policy geek to enjoy these videos — and the Swamp Merchant is guilty as charged.  But, as a lazy water policy geek, I particularly welcome this type of public policy video popping up on YouTube. This is so much easier than driving to Richmond.

Note my earlier post below where Chuck is soliciting comments on the raft of new attention and oversight to historically failing bay restoration policies — via YouTube.  These Obama guys are hip!  Sweeet…

Hip Update: How about the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order Facebook Page.  A Facebook fan page for a Presidential Decree!?

Video: Bear Creek Mitigation Bank under construction in October, 2001.

Here is some old video I took when Bear Creek was first being restored from farm to wetland forest in 2001. I need to take a similar video today, but recent still photos of the site can be seen in the post a few days ago.

Hint: Turn down your volume.

Flat Out Wonderful: RS teams with Houston's Katy Prairie Conservancy to sponsor the nation's largest stream mitigation bank

Restoration Systems is excited to share the news of our latest (and greatest) proposal for a mitigation bank outside of North Carolina.  RS, the Katy Prairie Conservancy of Houston, and the Warren family have entered a long-term Joint Venture to develop the nation’s largest stream mitigation bank on the 6000 acre Warren Ranch in northwestern Harris County.

The historic Warren Ranch is the largest working cattle ranch in Harris County and one of the last remaining spreads of its character and size on the perimeter of Houston.  As proposed, the bank will service the compensatory mitigation needs of nearly six million people as the city sprawls westward.   All told, the project will restore, enhance and preserve streams and wetlands over 20 miles of the ranch.

The Katy Prairie Conservancy, one of Texas’ oldest and most respected Land Trusts, plans to dedicate their share of  project proceeds to help retire the debt on the Warren Ranch and restore and permanently protect it to native prairie grassland.  The prairie ecosystem west of Houston has suffered severe degradation in the past. Today it faces obliteration by the relentless march of the city to the west.

RS is very fortunate to have found our farsighted partners, the KPC, its Executive Director Mary Anne Piacentini, and the Warren family.   We look forward to filing you in on the details of the project and updating you as it progresses.   For now, please enjoy the videos below of the Flat Out Wonderful Warren Ranch.

New Photos of RS' Bear Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank — Year 8 Since Restoration

I enjoyed great weather today for a flight to take some pics of RS’ Bear Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank straddling US 70 between Goldsboro and Kinston, NC. My family and I are staying with friends further east in Morehead City, and the nearby Beaufort, NC, airport is a convenient place to get up for some photos. Unfortunately, we had less than two hours for the flight and I was unable to photograph any other RS sites in the region.

But Bear Creek is special and can justify its own trip. It is the first project Restoration Systems put in the ground, in 2001. The wet and sloppy areas you see in these photos were bone-dry cornfields before we purchased, restored and protected the wetlands eight years ago. We planted twenty native species and 200,000 trees, as well as removed agricultural levees and backfilled major canals and drainage ditches. The Bear Creek bank and its associated site, Sleepy Creek, required the assemblage of over 1000 acres of property from more than twenty land owners at three locations in Lenoir and Craven Counties.

I look forward to putting up some “before and after” photos of Bear Creek. We have been taking photos of the mitigation bank since 1998 and can show in vivid detail the miracle of environmental restoration.

Feel free to click on a pic to be taken to Google Albums. From there you can play them full screen or download them!

Update: I put some photos of a ground reconnaissance hike we took at Bear Creek a little over a year ago:


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