BP Spill Fines Pay for the Restoration of Queen Bess Island

By John Snell.

A few miles north of Grand Isle, contractors race the clock in a first-of-its-kind island restoration.

A $10 million dredging project is piecing back together Queen Bess Island, a major breeding ground for brown pelicans.

While island restorations are nothing new along Louisiana’s coast, the state is working with a short window of time sandwiched between the end of this year’s nesting season and the beginning of next year’s.

Funding comes primarily from BP through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) associated with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

“Queen Bess was the bullseye of the Deepwater Horizon spill,” said Todd Baker, Biologist Director at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Queen Bess is the third largest brown pelican rookery in Louisiana, producing 15-20 percent of the state’s nesting activity, according to the LDWF.

However, like much of Louisiana’s coast, the island is sinking and eroding.

During breeding season, a few thousand pelicans crowed onto five acres of real estate surrounded by a rock barrier installed in the 1990s.

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