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Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Announces Public Engagement Sessions in Gulf States
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Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Announces Public Engagement Sessions in Gulf States

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (the Council) today announced the dates for upcoming public engagement sessions to provide early opportunities for initial input into the Comprehensive Plan for Gulf Coast restoration. Public engagement sessions will be held in Mississippi on February 19, in Louisiana on February 19, 20 and 21, and in Florida on February 28. The Council will announce additional dates and locations via the Council's website as they become available.

The Council, which was established by the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourism, Opportunities Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act), will help restore the ecosystem and economy of the Gulf Coast region by developing and overseeing implementation of a Comprehensive Plan and carrying out other responsibilities.

In January, the Council released The Path Forward to Restoring the Gulf Coast, which describes the Council's path to collaboratively develop an initial Comprehensive Plan. It sets out an integrated approach to Gulf restoration, recognizing that ecosystem restoration is inextricably linked to economic growth and development. The Council is in an early stage of plan development and intends to release a draft plan for public comment in Spring 2013. The public engagement sessions are part of the Council's efforts to ensure robust public input throughout the entire process.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused extensive damage to the Gulf Coast's natural resources, devastating the economies and communities that rely on it. In an effort to help the region rebuild in the wake of the spill, Congress passed the bipartisan RESTORE Act. The Act dedicates 80 percent of any civil and administrative penalties paid under the Clean Water Act by responsible parties in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund (the Trust Fund) for ecosystem restoration, economic recovery, and tourism promotion in the Gulf Coast region.

The meetings will give the public the opportunity to provide feedback on the Council's restoration planning efforts. Following are details on the upcoming meetings:

Tuesday, February 19

Louisiana - 5:00 PM CST

Terrebonne Civic Center, 346 Civic Center Blvd., Room 3, Houma, LA

Mississippi - 5:00 PM CST

Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, 2350 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS

Wednesday, February 20

Louisiana - 5:00 PM CST

University of New Orleans, Homer Hitt Alumni Center Ballroom, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, LA

Thursday, February 21

Louisiana - 5:00 PM CST

Lack Charles Civic Center, Jean Lafitte Room, 900 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles, LA

Thursday, February 28

Florida - 6:00 PM EST

Student Union East Conference Center, Gulf Coast State College, 5230 W. U.S. 98, Panama City Beach, FL

To learn more about the Council and get details about upcoming meetings, visit www.restorethegulf.gov.

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