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A Letter from David Meyer to U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Regarding BP Oil Spill Settlement Restoration Funding

February 10, 2012 

 

Ms. Cynthia K. Dohner, Southeast Regional Director

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

1875 Century Blvd NE, Suite 400

Atlanta, GA  30345

 

Dear Ms. Dohner,

 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the distribution of funds from the Gulf Spill Restoration Plan.

 

As you may be aware, Dauphin Island, Alabama has long been affected by the near-shore oil and gas platforms; in recent years, the number of gas rigs visible on the horizon has tripled to at least 25. The reason that Dauphin Island has gas rigs visible on the horizon is that Alabama has long been friendly to the oil and gas industries, allowing these rigs within ten miles of the shoreline, instead of the more conservative distance of other neighboring states.

 

We have long suffered from carbon-stained beaches, the sight and smell of the offshore rigs, and occasional scares brought by leaks, fires, and even an offshore platform beaching on our shoreline after Hurricane Katrina (2005).

 

Although Dauphin Island is one of the communities that is supposed to benefit from the tariffs collected through CIAPS and GOMESA funds, historically, most of those funds have been spent elsewhere, often in areas that have little or nothing to do with the stated purpose of those funds.

 

At present, much of our Island is in a fight for our very existence, due to erosion and sand starvation, largely caused by the dredging of the Mobile Shipping Channel. Much of Dauphin Island is slowly being lost to the Gulf, which is a terrible shame, given its value to the entire region. Hurricane Katrina actually severed the damaged Island, cutting a channel from north to south that widened rapidly once it was breeched, as currents flowed through, widening the cut each day, until the breech became over a mile across. Thankfully, BP provided funding after the spill for an emergency project to close the cut, for which we are grateful, but the breeching of the Island indicates that the entire Island could soon be lost, if the current erosion and sand deficits are not addressed.

 

Dauphin Island is the first landfall between the Yucatan peninsula and the mainland of Alabama. It protects the Mobile Metropolitan area, and nearby Bayou LaBatre, Coden, Theodore, and smaller communities. Dauphin Island is a valuable wildlife refuge for migratory waterfowl and many other living species. Dauphin Island protects tens of thousands of acres of wetlands and salt marshes along the Mississippi Sound, protecting oyster beds that support the seafood industry. Dauphin Island is also the nearest Gulf of Mexico beach for the residents of Mobile County, and much of the state of Alabama and visitors arriving via Interstate 65 from the Ohio River Valley. Dauphin Island also protects the Intracoastal Waterway, which passes along, and is protected by, the Island's northern shoreline.

 

While the United States Federal Government has recognized the value of the Gulf Coast barrier island system, and has recently funded a $450 million dollar project to restore barrier islands off the coast of Mississippi, the project ended just short of Dauphin Island, literally just a few miles to the west. Now, in the current economic environment, the money is not forthcoming to continue the project eastward to Dauphin Island.

 

Dauphin Island already has an engineering plan, recently completed, by Dr. Scott Douglas of South Coast Engineering, to restore and renourish the shoreline of Dauphin Island, protecting and preserving the Island for future generations. All that is necessary at this point is to raise the funds to make this project happen.

 

This project on Dauphin Island should be given strong consideration as a candidate for funding. Dauphin Island weathered much damage from the BP spill, and continues to fight a public perception of oil-tainted beaches. Parts of Dauphin Island are still yielding large amounts of oil and oil spill byproducts.

 

While many projects are certainly worthy of consideration, the very existence of our Island may depend on this fund. Helping to preserve Dauphin Island from erosion would be an excellent use of these funds, and may represent the Island's sole remaining chance for survival.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this matter. Feel free to contact me for more information, or to visit www.DauphinIslandRestoration.org.

 

Sincerely,

David Meyer

Dauphin Island Property Owner

 

Copyright © Dauphin Island Restoration
 

 

 

 

Copyright © Dauphin Island Restoration