Oil Spill Science Seminar: Healthy Gulf Seafood

Posted on 10/06/15 at 01:13 PM Permalink

Here is what Alabama will get in the BP oil spill settlement-al.com

By Jeremy Gray | jgray@al.com 
on October 05, 2015 at 11:44 AM, updated October 05, 2015 at 1:26 PM

The Justice Department and five states have finalized a settlement worth more than $20 billion arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, federal officials announced Monday.

For Alabama, that means a portion of a $1 billion payout from BP, Attorney General Luther Strange announced today.

That includes $950 million to the Alabama General Fund -- $50 million each year from 2016 until 2018 and $53.33 million each year from 2019 until 2033.

Another $50 million will be paid by BP in 2016 to the Alabama Gulf State Park. Project

A separate order dictates BP will make a one-time payment of legal fees for attorneys who represented the five Gulf States and their governors.  Under the order, the Strange's Office will receive $10 million directly from BP.

"I am also pleased that today's settlement of civil penalties and natural resource damages will send approximately $1 billion to Alabama's coastal counties, which will allow our friends on the Gulf to continue restoring both their environment and their economy," Strange wrote in a press release. 

The deal resolves all civil claims against BP and ends five years of legal fighting over the nearly 134 million-gallon spill.

It requires the company to commit to a widespread cleanup project in the Gulf Coast area aimed at restoring wildlife, habitat, water quality and recreation.

"BP is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries that it caused to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a Justice Department news conference.

"The steep penalty should inspire BP and its peers to take every measure necessary to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again," Lynch said.

The settlement filed in federal court finalizes an agreement first announced in July. The next step is a 60-day public comment period.

Among other requirements, BP will be forced to pay $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act penalties and nearly $5 billion to five Gulf states: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

It also requires the company to pay $8.1 billion in natural resource damages, with funds going toward Gulf restoration projects such as support for coastal wetland and fish and birds.

The spill followed the April 2010 explosion on an offshore rig that killed 11 workers. BP earlier settled with people and businesses harmed by the spill, a deal that's so far resulted in $5.84 billion in payouts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Posted on 10/05/15 at 02:27 PM Permalink

Oyster unveiling at the GulfQuest Maritime Museum


Photo Gallery

By Jeff Dute

The 26th overall and 13th placed in downtown Mobile, the new installment of The Oyster Trail was unveiled at the GulfQuest Maritime Museum on Sept. 17.

Co-sponsored by the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and Thompson Engineering/Watermark Design, “Estuary Gifts” was painted by native Mobilian James Foster.

On its face, Foster has painted extraordinarily vivid scenes depicting the varied topography and biology of the lower reaches of the Mobile Bay watershed that make it possible for it to support some of the most unique plants, animals and birds on the planet. A focal point of the shell’s inside scene panes is a three-dimensional pearl that Foster fashioned to scale where it rests inside a freshly opened Mobile Bay oyster.

On the outer shell, Foster’s painting of the entire watershed provides a surprisingly stark reminder of “how much stuff comes this way” through two-thirds of Alabama’s extensive waterways large and small plus parts of Mississippi and Georgia. Foster, who has a full-time job, said it took a couple of months of part-time work from initial consultations with MBNEP Director Roberta Swann to complete the intricate scenes.

During the unveiling, Thompson/Watermark’s President John Baker said The Oyster Trail, along with the GulfQuest Maritime Museum provide greater opportunity to educate locals and visitors to Mobile alike about the importance of the environment and the importance of Mobile Bay to our economy.

“The health of Mobile Bay and surrounding watersheds is directly tied to the health of our communities and the quality of life we enjoy,” Baker said. “While I’m certainly not  a marine biologist and I’m not trying to play one today, the oyster is an indicator species of the overall health of the bay. If we have poor water quality conditions in the bay, the oysters are the first to know it. As much as I like to eat “Blue point” oysters from the East Coast or Apalachicola Bay oysters from the Big Bend area of Florida, I much prefer to enjoy Mobile By area oysters and seafood.”

Left to right, Artist James Foster, PJ Waters Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program, Marie Dyson Oyster Trail, John Baker President Thompson Watermark, Roberta Swann Director Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, Tony Zodrow GulfQuest Maritime Museum Stand next to the latest edition to the Oyster Trail.

Baker added that the only way to ensure high water quality standards is to “promote sustainable, resilient and environmentally thoughtful design standards and practices throughout the built environment.”

The Oyster Trail is a fun, educational and public- art treasure hunt throughout coastal Alabama.  Look for the large fiberglass oysters that have been painted, decorated and bedazzled by artists throughout the area and which can be found along the street, within parks in lobbies and other places.

Each oyster has a fact plaque that includes important information about the oyster’s ecological and economic benefit to Mobile Bay. Visitors to the trail are guided by a Trail Map which provides locations of the oysters.

Trail Maps can be found in hotels, shops, visitor centers, etc. or can be downloaded. Completed scavenger-hunt forms can be returned to win Oyster Trail prizes.

Through sponsor donations, The Oyster Trail not only teaches people about the importance of healthy oyster populations as it relates to water quality but the money is also used to fund the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program. This volunteer-based program coordinated the Auburn University Shellfish on Dauphin Island focuses on education, restoration/enhancement and oyster research by “bringing the reef to the people.” 

Gardeners receive oyster spat in early July and grow them in baskets hung from their wharves until late November when they average about 2.5 inches. Their oyster offspring are collected and planted on reefs that have been degraded by storms, sedimentation and other causes. Volunteer gardeners have grown nearly 600,000 advanced stocker oysters for planting in and around Mobile Bay over the past 15 years, said Program Coordinator P.J. Waters.

“Without the supporters, sponsors and artists who participate in The Oyster Trail, the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program would not exist,” Waters said.

Director Roberta Swann said the MBNEP’s support of The Oyster Trail has been steadfast since its inception because it has on-the-water as well as educational benefits.

“Not only does this Oyster Trail generate money to continue the gardening program, it provides educational facts about the value of oysters in our estuary,” Swann said. “Not only can an adult oyster filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, oyster reefs provide habitat for other fish and shell fish. They can reduce wave energy in close proximity to the shore and most important, are at the very foundation of coastal Alabama heritage and culture. 

“To secure a future of oysters in Alabama is vital to securing a healthy estuary and frankly, a tasty treat.”

To learn more about or become a Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program volunteer, go to http://www.oystertrail.com. To learn more about the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program’s efforts in watersheds across the area, go to http://www.mobilebaynep.com. ;

Jeff Dute is a communications consultant for Mobile Bay NEP

Posted on 09/17/15 at 03:08 PM Permalink

Three Mile Creek to see a hiking, biking trail and canoe, kayak launches, FOX 10 News Special Report

Posted: Sep 10, 2015 1:29 PM CDTUpdated: Sep 10, 2015 2:10 PM CDT
By Candace Murphy, FOX10 News Reporter


Tucked away in the heart of downtown Mobile there’s wildlife all around. 

“We’re seeing Mullet jump. A lot of birds, we saw an alligator today. So right here, five minutes from downtown Mobile, is a great opportunity for people to get out, get on the water and see the wonderful wildlife we have in this area,” said Rick Fredrick with the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program.  

The Mobile Bay NEP wants to clean up Three Mile Creek so more people can enjoy it but there are challenges. FOX10 News discovered the water quality needs improvement.   “Trash and litter of course is the obvious thing. Of course there’s a lot of pathogens in the water meaning fertilizer, pet waste, we have run off from oils from your car so trying to eliminate a lot of the storm water run off affecting the water quality in the creek,” Fredrick explained.

In addition to improving the water quality, the City of Mobile plans to build hiking and biking trails stretching from The University of South Alabama to The Mobile River.“They’re all in the design phase right now so engineering firms are putting the design together and they’re going to begin construction soon. In 2016 we’ll see a lot of that come to fruition and be able to see the beginning of the trails and the canoe and kayak launches,” Fredrick explained.

The City of Mobile sent out the below letter unveiling the first design phase of Three Mile Creek Trail:

The City of Mobile unveiled its first design phase of the Three Mile Creek walking and biking trail during two community meetings this week. More than 80 stakeholders were able to weigh in and give feedback on the plan.

The project includes the installation of a 1.7-mile concrete trail, energy-efficient LED lighting, a fitness course, a boat launch, park benches, trash receptacles, water fountains and educational signage. The City of Mobile contracted Dorsey and Dorsey Engineering to complete the design and engineering for the plan. The trail system will begin at the southwest corner of the crossing of Three Mile Creek with MLK Avenue at the current site of the Roger Williams Homes and extend to West Ridge.

The trail will provide educational opportunities for the public to learn more about environmental protection, pollution, litter and natural resources. Commuters will be given an alternate form of transportation and residents will benefit from an accessible and free outlet for exercise.

The long term goal is to build a twelve-mile greenway system that would connect neighborhoods and parks. The recreational path would stretch from the University of South Alabama to the Mobile River.

“The creation of this first phase demonstrates our commitment to the revival of Three Mile Creek,” said Mayor Stimpson. “Our vision is to transform Three Mile Creek from a degraded, underutilized waterway to a community asset that educates citizens on our natural resources, encourages fitness and ultimately connects our community in a tangible and meaningful way.”

Funding for this project is provided through Community Development Block Grants, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Land and Water Conservation Fund, The City of Mobile, the Mobile County Health Department, Sybil Smith Charitable Trust and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

“We just want Mobile to get behind this. Be positive. It’s a daunting task, a big project but as you can see today, what it can be and the vision and we’re starting to see a lot of the projects being implemented and people can start to see this can become a reality,” Fredrick said.  

All content © 2015, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserve

Read more: http://www.fox10tv.com/story/30002433/three-mile-creek-to-see-a-hiking-biking-trail-and-canoe-kayak-launches#ixzz3lMn4245P

Posted on 09/10/15 at 02:41 PM Permalink

Notice: Request for Qualifications for Fish River Watershed Management Planning

The Baldwin County Soil and Water Conservation District seeks a qualified environmental planning, engineering, natural resource planning or other similar firm to prepare a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan (WMP) for the Upper Fish River (HUC 031602050304), Middle Fish River (HUC 031602050305), and Lower Fish River (HUC 031602050306) Watersheds in Baldwin County, Alabama. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process is being used to select a firm who can develop such a conceptual engineering master plan based on new and available data. RFQ’s must be sent to the attention of Rhonda Bryars and received no later than 3:00 p.m. CST, Friday, September 30th, 2015.
You can download the full RFQ in our Library of Documents under Request for Proposals at the bottom. 

Posted on 09/02/15 at 11:42 AM Permalink

Addendum’s have been made for two RFP’s, Soil Survey & Habitat Mapping

Two addendums have been released for two RFP's currently out, Soil Survey & Habitat Mapping. You can review all documents in our Library of Documents under Request for Propsals or by clicking here

Posted on 08/27/15 at 04:23 PM Permalink

Your input is needed for the Fowl River Forever Priority Survey

If you live within the Fowl River Watershed or just enjoy the river, we would like your input in prioritizing concerns. A list has been generated through a series of public input meetings. Your participation is very important, please click here to learn more and to take the survey

Posted on 08/21/15 at 01:09 PM Permalink

National Estuaries Week Photo Contest!

National Estuaries Week

Photo Contest 2015

NOAA Office for Coastal Management


In celebration of National Estuaries Week September 19 to 26, 2015 NOAA is hosting a photo contest.

Send in your best photos from a research reserve, pictures that display the beauty of the place, the critters that live there, or site visitors and staff. We want to see them all! Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and will be featured in our social media campaign during National Estuaries Week. Submit your photos under the following categories:

•  Swimmers

•  Fliers

•  Creepers

•  Vistas

•  Work

•  Play

To Enter:

Submit your images (minimum of 1200 pixels wide, no more than 10 photos) to OCM.NERRS.PhotoContest@noaa.gov. All images MUST include the

following: photographer’s name, short description of when and where the photo was taken, and what is shown in the photo.

Deadline Photos must be submitted by August 31, 2015 to be eligible for the contest.

Additional Contest Rules

1. Photographers must be at least 13 years of age or older as of August 1, 2015.

2. We will assume that, in submitting a photo, you are the owner of the photo and have the right to publish it (including permission and model release for anyone identifiably pictured).

3. By submitting a photo, you are giving us permission to use the photo for other purposes, such as within NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management photo gallery and on the http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov website, for social media, and in other office publications. We will, of course, provide credit to photographers whenever their photo is used.

4. Photos that are submitted without information stated under “To Enter”

will not be  considered.

5. You are eligible to submit photos if less than 20 percent of your total income is from photography.

6. No watermarks on submitted photos.

7. Photos must be a minimum of 1200 pixels wide (but the bigger, the


8. Only 10 entries per person.

9. Please keep the content clean and appropriate. Inappropriate content will not be accepted. Email us with questions at OCM.NERRS.PhotoContest@noaa.gov.

Posted on 08/21/15 at 01:00 PM Permalink

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council has released the draft Initial Funded Priorities List

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) has released the draft Initial Funded Priorities List (draft FPL). Using funds from the settlement with Transocean Deepwater Inc., the Council is seeking to provide near-term, on-the-ground ecosystem benefits, while also conducting planning activities designed to build a foundation for future success as additional funds become available from other parties. 

Draft Initial Funded Priorities List 

Draft Initial FPL Story Map(link is external) 

The Public is encoraged to provide comments online here(link is external) (preferred method); by mail to Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Attention: Draft FPL Comments, Hale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, Suite 1117, New Orleans, LA 70130; email to draftfplcomments@restorethegulf.gov(link sends e-mail); or in person during formal public comment periods at any of the public meetings.

Fact Sheets

Mobile Bay, AL Watershed/Estuary
Coastal Alabama Comprehensive Watershed Restoration Planning Project 
Alabama Living Shorelines Program
Comprehensive Living Shoreline Monitoring 
Alabama Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Restoration & Monitoring Program
Marsh Restoration in Fish River, Weeks Bay, Oyster Bay & Meadows Tract 
Mobile Bay National Estuary Program 
Upper Mobile Bay Beneficial Use Wetland Creation Site 
Enhancing Opportunities for Beneficial Use of Dredged Sediments 

Click here to view the remaining Draft Initial Funded Priorities List

Posted on 08/13/15 at 10:14 AM Permalink

Traci Sempier- First Place Gulf Guardian Individual Award Video

Posted on 08/07/15 at 09:57 AM Permalink