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Developing FPL 3- Using A Phased Approach

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) announces an update to the planning process for its next round of Gulf ecosystem restoration funding approvals. Pursuant to the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies Act of the Gulf Coast States of 2012 (RESTORE Act), the Council administers funding for Gulf ecosystem restoration. Through the Council-Selected Restoration Component or “Bucket 2”,  the Council approves projects and programs for funding in what is called a Funded Priorities List (FPL). To date, the Council has approved two FPLs. Until recently, the Council was planning on developing its next FPL, called FPL 3, as a single process. The Council is now proposing to develop FPL 3 in two phases.

The Council develops FPLs through collaboration among its members and with feedback from stakeholders across the Gulf. As a result of this collaborative process, it appears developing FPL 3 in two phases would enable the Council to respond to urgent ecosystem needs, save money, and take advantage of important partnership opportunities to advance large-scale ecosystem restoration in the near term. The Council will seek public comment as it considers two ecosystem projects as the potential first phase of FPL 3. In the second phase, the Council would consider restoration projects and programs that address additional ecosystem needs across the Gulf.

The two large-scale proposals under consideration are the River Reintroduction into the Maurepas Swamp in Louisiana, and conservation of critical coastal habitat in the Perdido watershed in Alabama. These two projects will be considered by the Council in the first phase of FPL 3, referred to as FPL 3a. The proposed FPL 3a will adhere to the FPL development processes committed to by the Council, particularly as they relate to best available science (BAS), public engagement and transparency, and the Council’s recently finalized Planning Framework.

When developing the second phase, FPL 3b, the Council will also follow the same process. In FPL 3b, the Council will focus its investments in other areas of the Gulf. The FPL 3b process will continue to be developed collaboratively and transparently, with both State and Federal Council members eligible to submit proposals. Federally-recognized Tribes will be eligible to submit proposals for FPL 3b funding through federal Council members.

The Council is currently seeking detailed funding proposals on the two potential FPL 3a projects from their respective state sponsors. These proposals will then be posted on for transparency. The Council will also post the results of the external BAS reviews and an internal science panel review of the two projects. The contents of FPL proposals and the process for the BAS review are described in the Council’s FPL 3 Proposal Submission Guidelines and Review Process. Depending on the outcome of these reviews, a draft FPL 3a would be posted for public review and comment. The Council would then consider and respond to public comments, and determine whether to move to a Council vote on the proposed FPL 3a. The following are tentative timeframes for these actions: 

  • FPL 3a proposals and BAS reviews posted on Council website - Late 2019
  • Draft FPL 3a public review and comment period (including public meetings and webinar) - Late 2019 - Early 2020
  • Potential Council vote on draft FPL 3a - Early 2020

Under this proposed approach, the Council would focus on the development of FPL 3b during 2020, with an anticipated Council vote on FPL 3b in the first half of 2021. As noted above, FPL 3b would follow the Council’s FPL process, including posting all proposals and BAS reviews, and an opportunity for public review and comment prior to a Council vote.