A $7 million restoration project spawned in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is expanding.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the RESTORE Council have announced they will spend an additional $11.9 million to continue the work of the GulfCorps program through 2025. The program, created in 2017 originally as a four-year joint project of The Nature Conservancy and NOAA, aims to restore the natural features and habitats on critical conservation lands in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
GulfCorps employs multiple teams of young adults in each Gulf state with support of the Student Conservation Association (SCA), the Corps Network and the RESTORE Council. SCA crews plant native vegetation, remove invasive species, restore shorelines and provide access to the public by maintaining trails, repairing boardwalks and removing debris.
“We have different crew members that grew up right here in Mobile and they don’t even realize all of this wonderful habitat is around them,” said Larissa Graham, Gulf Coast Teams manager for SCA. “It’s really an eye-opening experience for them.”
Since the work began in 2018, SCA crews have restored more than 3,000 acres of coastal habitats. Graham said the work also benefits the crew members.
“What we want to see at the end of the season is that they go off and do some good work with a different organization,” Graham said. “I tell members all the time, ‘That is the only job where they’re going to help you find your next job.”