- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi officials say restoration and conservation projects that will use $34 million from the BP settlement money have begun on the Coast or will soon start.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1Nrrz1s ) officials with the state departments of Environmental Quality and Marine Resources, at their annual State of the Coast meeting on Wednesday, announced the money has been allocated for a wide range of projects from Hancock County to Pascagoula.

MDEQ Executive Director Gary Rikard said Mississippi was awarded $2.17 billion in a settlement in 2015. He said it’s up to the Legislature on how that money will be spent.

Large projects will center on the Mississippi Sound, the De Soto National Forest and the barrier islands.

The projects are “in phase one,” said Robert Kroger, chief scientific officer of Covington Civil and Environment LLC.

“We’re in the beginning stages of work to restore and conserve parts of the Coast,” he said. “We’re trying to answer science-based questions before we begin some projects. Others we’ve begun.”

Efforts will include marsh restoration and conservation, and adding dredge sediments to shallow waters to create artificial reefs.

Kroger said projects also are in the works to ensure water quality in the Mississippi Sound. Part of that involves acquisition of private land adjacent to the streams and estuaries that run into the Sound, he said.

In addition, the state will spend $750,000 on education outreach.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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