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BP money on the way for local restoration projects

It's the next step in bringing millions of dollars to our area for oil spill recovery. The Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource trustees today released a plan that dedicates $627 million to restoration projects.

The money is divided among the five Gulf Coast states. Louisiana is getting the most, $340 million. Florida gets $105 million. Alabama will receive $93.7 million, Nearly $69 million will go to Mississippi and and Texas will get $18 million.

In our area, $22.5 million is earmarked for Escambia County, $4.7 for Santa Rosa, and $14.8 million for Okaloosa County. Another $22 million is designated for regional projects.

One of the big projects in Okaloosa County is the Norriego Point restoration and recreation project. Tides and storms have badly eroded the point, just off the Destin shore. The proposed plan would provide $10 million to build erosion control structures to protect the area. The money would also pay for a pavilion with restrooms and showers, and construction of trails, bike racks, and parking areas.

The massive environmental makeover coming to the Gulf Coast has many other facets that will help restore everything from sea life to sand dunes and more.

Seafood is a huge part of our culture and economy here. Whether you just like to eat it, or you're also involved in catching it, there's a lot to look forward to in the plan.

Nicholos Moore enjoys fishing off the Pensacola Beach Pier. For him, word of plans to build a new fish hatchery in pensacola and artificial reefs in nearby waters comes as great news.

"I believe it'd bring more fish into the pier actually and that'd be great," Moore said.

The nearly $19 million hatchery will be built on Bruce Beach west of Maritime Park. And the artificial reefs will be set up in the Gulf as well as in Pensacola and Choctawhatchee Bays.

 "It's gonna bring more people down," Moore said, "Probably need to build more motels."

Fishermen and others will also get some help bringing boats in and out of the water when the Gulf Breeze Wayside Park boat ramp gets some needed repairs.

Bill Gray, who uses the ramp often, said, "The concrete inside is all cracked and broken, so it's hard on the boats when you're puttin' 'em in."

Gray says the repairs will be a big help. He's also happy to hear about the environmental overhaul in general.

 "Anything that helps the envrionment along the way, I'm good for," Gray said.

The public will get a chance to give input on the project at a series of meetings over the next couple of months. One of those meetings will be held at the Pensacola Bay Center on January 28.

Click here for a full break down of funds per county.