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Planning Framework

In August 2019, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council or Council) finalized the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Planning Framework (Planning Framework). The Planning Framework serves as a “bridge” between the Council’s overarching goals and objectives identified in the 2016 Comprehensive Plan Update: Restoring the Gulf Coast’s Ecosystem and Economy and the specific restoration projects and programs approved in future FPLs. The Planning Framework identifies five priority approaches and associated techniques, along with their application within specific geographic areas in an effort to give the public and potential funding partners an indication of the types of projects and programs that may be considered for FPL 3 funding consideration.

The Council published and requested comments on the Planning Framework draft from stakeholders during a 52-day public review and comment period. During this timeframe, the Council held five public meetings across the Gulf Coast, hosted two public webinars and engaged with stakeholders across the region. The Council accepted written comments via mail, email and through the Planning, Environment and Public Comment website. The Council has released the RESTORE Council Planning Framework: Responses to Comments which includes a summary of the 446 unique public comments received from 2,932 stakeholders and responses to those comments.

Planning Framework- Background

The resolution of civil claims and penalties associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has provided unprecedented funding for ecosystem restoration in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). The Council plays a key role in developing strategies and implementing projects that help sustain the Gulf’s natural resources for future generations. With this responsibility in mind, the Council develops Funded Priorities Lists (FPLs) that describe the projects and programs it will fund. Projects and programs funded through the Council- Selected Restoration Component (commonly referred to as “Bucket 2”) must be in furtherance of the goals and objectives of the Council’s Comprehensive Plan and address at least one of the priority criteria identified in the RESTORE Act. Thus far, the Council has finalized two FPLs and plans to release a third sometime in late 2020.

Recognizing that needs outweigh available funds, the purpose of the Planning Framework is to signal the Council’s FPL 3 restoration priorities and to support the Council’s Comprehensive Plan commitments to:

  • Developing a regional ecosystem-based approach to restoration
  • Leveraging resources and partnerships through increased collaboration
  • Increasing public engagement, inclusion, and transparency regarding the funding decisions in Bucket 2
  • Advancing science-based decision-making
  • Delivering results and measuring impacts

Priority Approaches

The Planning Framework identifies priorities that strategically link past and future restoration funding decisions. In this way, the document serves as a “bridge” between the Council’s overarching goals and objectives and the specific restoration projects and programs approved in future FPLs. To that end, the Council will consider how future investments may build upon those in the Initial FPL, as well as other restoration activities funded by other restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico region.

Although this Planning Framework was developed to support their decision-making for FPL 3, the Council views it as a “living” document that is broad enough to serve as a foundation for all future FPLs. The Council anticipates that it will review and revise this Planning Framework as needed prior to developing future FPLs. The Planning Framework is organized around priority approaches and associated techniques and their application within geographic areas. The RESTORE Council’s Comprehensive Plan goals and objectives can be met through actions called “priority approaches and techniques.” A priority approach may be implemented by multiple associated restoration techniques. Techniques are specific methods or activities used to carry out an approach.

Geographic Areas

Geographic areas illustrate the general areas where the Council may implement certain approaches and techniques. The geographic areas described in the Planning Framework are a step toward identifying priority watersheds and/or estuaries for investment to meet the Comprehensive Plan goals and objectives. Together, these priority approaches, techniques, and geographic areas provide an indication to the public and potential funding partners of the kinds of projects and programs that the RESTORE Council may develop and consider for FPL 3 funding. 

Learn more about

Planning Framework Draft
Planning Framework Draft- Public Comment Period
RESTORE Education Opportunities Series