From Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
-- Approval for Alabama’s Coastal Impact Assistance Program Plan was announced April 23 at 5 Rivers – Delta Resource Center in Spanish Fort. This opens the way for the state to apply for $51.1 million in grants from the Department of Interior.
Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service, signed the approval for the grant money, which is derived from oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. Five other states – Alaska, California, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas – share in the funds, which are allocated according to oil and gas lease revenue generated off each state’s coast.
Alabama’s share of the funds - $25.5 million each for 2007 and 2008 – will be split among the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and Mobile and Baldwin counties.
“As you know, the Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 25 percent of the oil produced in this country and about 15 percent of the natural gas produced in this country,” Cruickshank said. “This production is vital to our nation’s energy security and economic well-being, especially when the demand is expected to grow substantially in the coming years.”
Alabama’s CIAP plan includes 75 projects that conserve, protect and restore coastal areas, including wetlands. The projects also provide conservation measures for wildlife, fish and other natural resources.
Patti Powell, director of ADCNR’s State Lands Division, said the projects range from habitat creation to recreational opportunities through additional water trails, such as the Bartram Canoe Trail in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. The approved plan also includes educational opportunities, including construction of the Weeks Bay Educational Facility on Fish River.
“The more educational opportunities we have, the more tangible benefits we will see down the road,” Powell said. “Other opportunities that CIAP allows us to embark on include land acquisition like the thousands of acres along the Perdido River corridor. This is designed to be a longleaf pine restoration project. This will combine with an existing tract that will give us 20,000 acres along the Perdido River corridor. As you see, this program provides benefits for generations to come.”
Visit www.alabamaciap.com for a complete list of the projects.