BRADENTON -- At Tuesday's BOCC meeting Manatee County Natural Resource Department Director Charles Hunsicker spoke to the commission about the importance of staying committed to the purpose and role Restore Act funds will play in the county's environmental future. Hunsicker said, "It is important that these funds go to enhance the shore and estuaries that we are committed to protect."
Hunsicker told the commission that we should be proud of the ongoing efforts to keep the waters surrounding the county healthy and vibrant, adding, "The settlement funds we will be receiving from the Deepwater Horizon disaster settlement will be somewhere between $4 and $15 million."
Hunsicker said, "Private companies and businesses have already received million of dollars. Although southwest Florida wasn't hit by the spill as hard as other regions, we suffered considerable losses. There is still oil beneath the sand on beaches along the gulf coast."
Hunsicker then introduced Jessica Koelsch, a Gulf Restoration Policy Specialist for the National Wildlife Federation. Koelsch said, "From what I've seen, Manatee County has been doing a great job of taking care of their shores." Koelsch said she was impressed with what she saw the county doing at Robinson Preserve and that, "building aquatic nesting areas and focusing on the estuaries is where the focus should be."
The county will decide over the next few months, exactly how the funds will be spent. But while there is some flexibility in how enhancements are obtained, both Hunsicker and Koelsch were in agreement that the estuaries and shoreline should get priority.
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