Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gulf of Mexico Restoration Task Force

The Gulf of Mexico Restoration Task Force Strategy (preliminary draft) is open for public comment for one more day. Get your comments in by Wednesday, Oct. 26 11:59 PM EST. Find the report and the comment submission form here: http://www.epa.gov/gulfcoasttaskforce/
My comment is below:


To the Gulf of Mexico Restoration Task Force:

I commend you on the preliminary Restoration Strategy. Scientists have recognized the decline in coastal and riverine ecosystem health in the Gulf of Mexico states for far too long without any change in practices. A core concept of the plan, to put science and restoration on the same footing with industry, politics, and economics, is outstanding.

As most of the Task Force would no doubt agree, making a good plan is far easier than putting it into action. Too many decisions, for example the locations, priorities, and specific goals for restoration projects, have been left to the states and private and public partners. I worry that when the funding sources come online, they will be diverted from the focal aims of the Strategy. The Task Force should appoint a Science Advisory Commission to oversee and distribute funds for ecological restoration.

Your stated aim of doing restorations within an adaptive management framework is excellent. A substantial portion of funding must be devoted to the effort of adaptive management to support the equipment and labor required for proper monitoring and decision-making. Do not let this issue get sidelined or allow the funding for this to be trivialized. The Task Force should suggest the amount or proportion of resources that are required to be devoted to this pursuit. Please include this revision in the final draft of the Strategy.

Restoration on a scale as large as the Gulf of Mexico has rarely been attempted. Despite the substantial environmental challenges faced by these coastal states, many other regions face similarly daunting environmental degradation. Please ensure that, as the Strategy moves forward, information is collected and made available to scientists and the public so we may learn from this example to improve future large-scale restoration practices. The final draft should include a plan for the release of information on restoration progress and costs.

Thank you for your commendable efforts for restoring the Gulf of Mexico.