The Gulf Consortium is pleased to announce that the first SEP implementation project has been awarded. Pasco County’s artificial reef project will both support the increasing recreational demand for offshore reef fishing and scuba diving opportunities by both residents and tourists and also enhance the abundance, distribution, and structural diversity of hard-bottom habitat in Pasco County offshore waters. The site is approximately 12 miles offshore west of Hudson Beach. The work is expected to be complete by November 2020. Monitoring of the acres of habitat restored, compliance with all plant and animal community surveys required under the associated USACE permits, and improvements to recreational infrastructure will occur in accordance with the grant requirements. It should be noted that Pasco County earned special comment from RESTORE Council for the quality of their grant application, and we extend our appreciation to County Staff and their Commissioners for these efforts.
The Gulf Consortium’s State Expenditure Plan was approved in September, 2018 and the Board received approval to commence implementation activities in February, 2019. The Board approved the first group of grant applications in March, 2019, and the Pasco County Hudson Reef project is the first grant awarded. An additional 11 grants for $11.1 million are pending approval. All told, the projects will substantially improve water resources across the Gulf and restore significant areas of habitat.
The Gulf Consortium is a public entity created by Inter-local Agreement among Florida's 23 Gulf Coast counties, from Escambia County in the western panhandle of Florida to Monroe County on the southern tip of Florida and the United States. Florida’s 23 Gulf Coast Counties formed the Consortium to meet requirements of the RESTORE Act to develop a State Expenditure Plan for economic and environmental recovery of the Gulf coast in Florida following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The RESTORE Act was passed by the Congress on June 29, 2012 and signed into law on July 6, 2012 by the President.
For more details on Gulf Consortium activity, visit the home page of www.gulfconsortium.org/ and scroll down to click on “View Project Data Here” for a link to an interactive page of information. Page 7 of the linked pages shows the current status of all active grant applications.