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Developing FPL 3- Using A Phased Approach

In December 2019, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) announced an update to the planning process for its third 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 three FPLs. The Council decided 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, developing FPL 3 in two phases enabled the Council to respond to ecosystem needs and take advantage of important partnership opportunities to advance large-scale ecosystem restoration in the near term. In the second phase, referred to as FPL 3b, the Council approved restoration activities that address additional ecosystem needs across the Gulf.

FPL 3a

The Council sought public comment as it considered two ecosystem projects as the potential first phase of FPL 3, referred to as FPL 3a. This phase adhered to the FPL development processes committed to by the Council, particularly as they relate to the use of best available science (BAS), public engagement and transparency, and the Council’s recently finalized Planning Framework. The two large-scale projects included in FPL 3a were the River Reintroduction into the Maurepas Swamp in Louisiana, and conservation of critical coastal habitat in the Perdido watershed in Alabama. The Council voted to approve this FPL on February 12, 2020.

FPL 3b

When developing the second phase, FPL 3b, the Council followed the same process as it considered proposals that address ecosystem needs in Texas, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama, along with Gulfwide proposals. Federally-recognized Tribes were eligible to submit proposals for FPL 3b funding through federal Council members. The Council will focused on the development of FPL 3b during 2020, culminating in a 50-day public comment period on draft FPL 3b that began on November 16, 2020 and ended January 5, 2021. Taking into considration all comments received on the draft, the council finalized FPL 3b, released the Response to Comments (Vietnamese translation), and voted to approve FPL 3b (Vietnamese translation) on April 28, 2021.