By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration (RESTORE) Council recently announced a list of prioritized projects slated to receive funding in the wake of the BP oil spill. The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (LANWR) has been named to that list, according to Refuge Manager Boyd Blihovde.
“We were prioritized for funding because we tie in to the BP oil spill and the species and the habitat ecosystems that were impacted by that oil spill. All that funding is supposed to go into restoring the Gulf,” Blihovde said.
The Refuge has two different projects up for consideration, Blihovde said. “Only what they’re calling Category 1 projects will be funded, tentatively. If certain compliance aspects on the Category 2 projects, they’ll also be funded,” he said.
The Refuge is slated to receive approximately $4.3 million for its Category 1 project, and an additional $1.3 million for its Category 2 project. But there are some snags. Approval for the Category 1 fund disbursement is pending the completion of a public commenting period and final approval. The Council has announced meetings along the coast where the public can provide input.
The Category 1 project involves acquiring more tracts of land to help connect the existing tracts that make up the Refuge’s 97,000 acres. “The RESTORE council funds were targeted for a corridor, a wildlife corridor, called the Bahia Grande Coastal Corridor,” Blihovde said. “As the name implies, it’s between the Bahia Grande and Laguna Atascosa, and that corridor is intended to connect the two units, or tracts of land, together for wildlife so that wildlife can be able to traverse between the two properties,” he said.
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