$60M In Oil Spill Money To Pay For Recreational Projects


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana will spend $60 million in oil spill recovery money on recreational projects to bolster boating, fishing and outdoor leisure opportunities across coastal parishes, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday.

The dollars come from billions in settlement money tied to damages caused by the massive 2010 BP PLC oil spill. Edwards said the 23-item list released Tuesday, approved by state and federal officials, will use the full amount required for spending on coastal recreational projects.

"The oil spill impacted Louisiana's environment and natural resources, but it also took a toll on our way of life and the recreational opportunities that make Louisiana a true Sportsman's Paradise," Edwards said in a statement.

Construction on some projects will begin this summer, while Edwards administration officials said others require more engineering and design time before building can start.

State parks and wildlife management areas along the coast will see renovations to cabins, playgrounds and bathrooms, new fishing piers and docks and other upgrades. The state also will enhance its artificial reef sites.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said the improvements to state park facilities will help attract more tourists to the state, and Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet said the projects will boost fishing and boating opportunities for local residents as well.

All nine of Louisiana's coastal parishes will receive a share of the money, with specific projects earmarked in each one.

Jefferson Parish is receiving the largest portion, with projects there receiving more than $18 million for kayak launches, fishing piers, trails, floating docks, wetlands exhibits and more improvements at parks and other facilities.

Projects in Terrebonne parish will split $8 million. In Lake Charles, $7 million will be spent for a visitor's center, youth fishing pond and exhibits at science center. More than $9 million will be spent on a boat ramp, waterway dredging, campground repairs, trails and other recreational projects in St. Mary Parish.

Edwards' chief coastal adviser, Johnny Bradberry, said the process for selecting and approving the project list took two years, with more than $1 billion in proposals submitted for consideration.

– by Melinda Deslatte, AP reporter

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