Louisiana's state bird was back in the news last week. The newest NBA team nickname is the New Orleans Pelicans!
The pelican had faded from the nation's attention, along with the BP oil disaster, after images in 2010 of the majestic bird drenched in oil became the icon of BP's carnage in the Gulf. Along with the birds, their oil-soaked mangrove nesting habitat on Louisiana's eroding barrier islands has been decimated as well. Pelicans need nesting sites far removed from predators to hatch and fledge their young.
Unfortunately, BP is dragging their feet in funding barrier island restoration projects. Cat Island in Plaquemines Parish is falling apart around these amazing animals. This critical rookery spot was 360 acres in 1930, 40 acres in 1998 and 4 acres in pre-BP 2010. Now the island has been split in two, its magroves are dead, and it's roughly the size of a football field. A plan to protect it has run into significant funding shortfalls, despite some big promises from BP.
In a high profile announcement in 2010, BP agreed to spend $1 billion to fund 'early restoration'. Intending to get ahead of the severe impacts, the agreement envisioned spending the money in a year or two.
We're at the end of that timeline and the early restoration effort has only programed $70 million, less than 10% of the initial promise. None of the projects will restore pelican nesting habitat, despite the fact that Louisiana has proposed a number of different barrier island projects to BP.
Take action today and urge BP to spend the money they promised, and help restore habitat of our fearsome Pelicans.
For the Gulf,
Gulf Restoration Network