About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) was established in early 2013 as a result of the plea agreements resolving the criminal charges against BP and Transocean after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The agreements directed a total of $2.54 billion to GEBF over a five-year period. Under the plea agreements, $356 million was allocated for projects within the state of Florida that “remedy harm to natural resources where there has been injury to, or destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of those resources” resulting from the oil spill. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and DEP work directly with NFWF to identify GEBF projects for the state of Florida in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Florida GEBF Restoration Strategy
Since 2015, FWC and DEP have received funds from NFWF to develop the Florida GEBF Restoration Strategy (Restoration Strategy). The primary objective of the Restoration Strategy is to provide a cohesive vision for planning the remaining GEBF investments in Florida to address restoration needs for resources affected by the DWH oil spill. The Restoration Strategy will identify Gulf of Mexico watershed-specific, priority restoration needs based on a comprehensive review of existing conservation and management plans based on three GEBF funding priorities:
Restore and maintain the ecological functions of landscape-scale coastal habitats, including barrier islands, beaches and coastal marshes, and ensure their viability and resilience against existing and future threats;
Restore and maintain the ecological integrity of priority coastal bays and estuaries; and
Replenish and protect living resources including oysters, red snapper and other reef fish, Gulf Coast bird populations, sea turtles and marine mammals.
This effort funded activities that significantly informed the Restoration Strategy including updates to Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) plans in the Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD) and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) watersheds. It also included an assessment of estuaries in the Panhandle and Big Bend by FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute to determine what factors may be preventing seagrass recovery in areas where seagrasses have disappeared. This information was integrated into the SWIM plan updates, as appropriate. Visit Roadblocks to Seagrass Recovery for more information.
FWC and DEP conducted stakeholder and public engagement on the draft Restoration Strategy, which was distributed on September 12, 2016, followed by a public webinar on September 14 and comment period. FWC and DEP considered comments and suggestions received during the development of the revised Restoration Strategy, which was finalized in January 2018. This document will be used as a tool in project selection for NFWF consideration for future GEBF funding cycles. The Restoration Strategy includes watershed-specific potential action lists mined from project proposals submitted to the online project portal as of July 14, 2017. However, new and/or updated projects to the portal will continue to be considered in future GEBF funding cycles. To view previously submitted projects, update existing projects, or submit a new project proposal, visit the Florida Deepwater Horizon webpage.
FWC and DEP conducted a webinar on February 27, 2018 to present the results of the Restoration Strategy and discuss proposed projects for the 2018 GEBF cycle. To receive a PDF of the webinar or to receive updates and notifications on GEBF public engagement opportunities, please join our GEBF stakeholder email list by emailing Amy Raker.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.