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Photo courtesy of NOAA

NOAA — the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration — and its federal and state trustee partners Tuesday invited the public to  comment on a draft plan to restore the Gulf after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The plan outlines and describes 44 proposed restoration projects, totaling approximately $627 million.

The plan was released by the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, nine federal and state agencies that act on behalf of the public to restore resources directly or indirectly harmed by oil released into the environment following the spill.

The projects included in the master plan seek to address both natural resource and recreational losses caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill contributed to the loss of valuable natural resources all along the Gulf Coast,” said Dr. Mark Schaefer, assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management and NOAA deputy administrator.

The projects will be funded through the $1 billion provided to the trustees by BP, as part of the 2011 Framework Agreement on early restoration.

NOAA, part of the Department of Commerce, plans to take a leading role in executing four of the 44 proposed projects.They include restoration of beach, dune and back-barrier marsh habitat on Chenier Ronquille, a barrier island off the coast of Louisiana at an estimated cost of  $318 million.

Release of the draft plan opens a 60-day public comment period that runs through Feb. 4, 2014.

There will be 10 public meetings across the Gulf states during the comment period.

Meeting times, dates and locations are listed on www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.