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. 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 oil spill. The Restoration Strategy will identify 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.
In addition, this effort is funding activities that will significantly inform 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. As of November 2017, all seven NWFWMD SWIM plans (Perdido River and Bay, Pensacola Bay System, Choctawhatchee River and Bay, St. Andrew Bay, Apalachicola River and Bay, Ochlockonee River and Bay, and St. Marks River and Apalachee Bay) and two SRWMD SWIM plans (Suwannee River Basin and Coastal Rivers Basin) have been updated.
In September of 2016, FWC and DEP distributed the draft version of the Restoration Strategy. To receive a digital copy, please email Amy Raker.
In February of 2017, FWC and DEP staff conducted a public webinar to provide an update on the Restoration Strategy and 2017 GEBF funding cycle . View a PDF of the slides. Since then, FWC and DEP have extended the Restoration Strategy timeline by two months in order to incorporate all of the updated SWIM plans into the final analysis. Therefore, the Restoration Strategy is expected to be finalized in January of 2018 and will be distributed and presented via a public webinar shortly thereafter. This document will be used as a tool in project selection for the GEBF 2018 funding cycle and beyond.
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, see the sidebar or visit the Florida Deepwater Horizon webpage.
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.