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Developing FPL 3- Using A Phased Approach

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) announced 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 planned to develop 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 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 would consider restoration projects and programs 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 proposed 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 proposals under consideration were the River Reintroduction into the Maurepas Swamp in Louisiana, and conservation of critical coastal habitat in the Perdido watershed in Alabama.

FPL 3b

When developing the second phase, FPL 3b, the Council will also follow the same process as it considers proposals that address ecosystem needs in Texas, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama, along with Gulfwide proposals. In FPL 3b, the Council will focus its investments in other areas of the Gulf. This process will continue to be developed collaboratively and transparently, with Council members eligible to submit proposals. Federally-recognized Tribes will be eligible to submit proposals for FPL 3b funding through federal Council members. Under this proposed approach, the Council will focus on the development of FPL 3b during 2020, with an anticipated Council vote on FPL 3b in the first half of 2021.