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Audubon Releases Plan To Restore Gulf Of Mexico

Florida Fish and Wildlife/Flikr
Audubon's plan would restore coastal habitat, which is home to birds like the brown pelican.

The National Audubon Society has released its restoration plan for the Gulf of Mexico. It would draw on the $20 billion settlement from the 2010 BP oil spill.

Audubon would apply for part of the $2.5 billion that was awarded to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It would be used to fight the effects of sea level rise in the Gulf that threatens critical bird nesting habitat.

Mark Rachal, sanctuary manager of Audubon's Coastal Islands program in Tampa Bay, said they want to use the money to finish a breakwater to calm waves that threatens to erode the islands.

"Everyday that the islands are unprotected is another day that we're losing shoreline and potential nesting habitat for Florida's most iconic birds gulf-wide, brown pelicans, roseate spoonbills, reddish egrets," he said. "It's imperative that we have this protected habitat where the birds can nest and raise the next generation."

Audubon's  $1.7 billion plan for the Gulf is part of the largest ecosystem restoration effort ever attempted.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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