More than $6 million is set to be used on six Galveston Bay-area environmental projects funded by settlement money from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The projects were announced Wednesday by the Texas Trustee Implementation Group, a committee tasked with deciding which of more than 800 proposed projects deserved the first phase of funding from the settlement.
The largest local project is $3 million for wetland restoration in Pierce Marsh, a habitat on the mainland side of West Galveston Bay. Dredged material and new plantings will be used to restore up to 150 acres of wetland.
“This project would contribute to an ongoing, large-scale conservation effort to restore marsh and wetland habitat in the Galveston Bay system,” the implementation group wrote in a report outlining its choices for projects to be funded. “Historical subsidence in the Galveston Bay area has inundated thousands of acres of coastal marsh.”
Between 1953 and 1989, Galveston Bay lost about 35,100 acres of wetlands, according to the report.
The Pierce Marsh project is anticipated to begin in 2018, according to the report.
Another $2 million will be used to buy 300 acres of wetland and coastal habitat on Follets Island, an area between the San Luis Pass and Drum Bay. The land will be managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
A study of ways to improve the Essex Bayou habitat, on the far west end of Galveston Bay, will receive $372,000.
Elsewhere, $309,000 was committed to supporting a project meant to help restore the Galveston Bay oyster population, which was devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008, and harmed again this year by Hurricane Harvey.
The Bird Island Cove Habitat restoration project, off the West End of Galveston near the Indian Beach subdivision, will receive $206,000 to investigate threats to the habitat and develop new strategies to protect it.
The three projects were among 13 Texas projects named by the group on Wednesday. In total, the projects are set to receive $45.8 million.
The money was allocated to Texas as part of the $8.1 billion natural resource damage penalty the federal government levied against BP in 2015. The money is planned to be divided by Texas, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi to fund environmental restoration projects.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest oil spill in history. The 4-month spill, which occurred after a deadly explosion at an oil platform off the coast of Louisiana, released more than 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
The spill left little oil on Texas’ shores, though the spill did harm the local fishing and tourism industries.
More than 800 projects were proposed to the implementation group when it began its planning for the money in 2016. The group held a public hearing on the planned projects in La Marque in June.