Disaster and Recovery Initiatives – Gulf of Mexico
Emergency Response to Hurricanes and Deepwater Horizon
Phase II. Photo courtesy of Weeks Marine.
Erosion of the Nation’s beaches, dunes, barrier islands, and
coastal wetlands is a serious challenge that affects energy,
defense, and public infrastructure as well as tourism which is
important to state and local economies. Following the extensive
damage resulting from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005),
Hurricanes Gustav and Ike (2008) and the Deepwater Horizon oil
spill (2010) there has been increased national interest and
dedicated funding along the Gulf Coast in coastal restoration and
management efforts. Future Gulf projects are planned out to 50
years as the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA)
contribution to restoration budgets increases in 2017. These
multiple funding streams will ensure that the Marine Minerals
Program in the Gulf of Mexico Region will be a significant contributor to ongoing and proposed coastal
restoration projects through the use of OCS sand resources for many years to come.
Two reports from the U.S. Geological Survey, (https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/70169110
and http://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3164/) published in
2016 and 2011, respectively, indicate that coastal Louisiana has undergone a net change in land area of
about -1,883 square miles (mi2) from 1932 to 2010. This net change in land area amounts to a decrease
of about 25 percent of the 1932 land area. Persistent losses account for 95 percent of this land area
decrease; the remainder are areas that have converted to water but have not yet exhibited the
persistence necessary to be classified as "loss." Trend analyses from 1985 to 2010 show a wetland loss
rate of 16.57 square miles per year. If this loss were to occur at a constant rate, it would equate to Louisiana losing
By replenishing beaches and restoring wetlands with sediment from the OCS, the Nation’s coastlines
receive crucial resources for maintaining a healthy coastal ecosystem. Access to and identification of
potential OCS sand, gravel and other mineral resources is critical for the long- term success and cost-
effectiveness of many shore protection, beach nourishment, and coastal ecosystem restoration projects
along the Gulf of Mexico. However, BOEM’s involvement goes beyond conveying the rights to OCS
minerals. In order to be ready to respond to emergency situations, the bureau’s Gulf of Mexico Region
has forged relationships with a wide range of stakeholders including federal, state and local
environmental agencies; geologists; coastal managers; public works departments; the business and
tourism communities; the fisheries community and ordinary citizens. These partnerships aid in reaching a
new level of coastal resilience.
This image, taken in 2001, shows narrow sandy beaches
and adjacent overwash sandflats,
low vegetated dunes, and backbarrier marshes broken
by ponds and channels.
BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico’s MMP has an ongoing dialogue
the five Gulf states and a wide range of stakeholders and
partners including sand management working groups and
the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. Close collaboration with our
federal partners in Washington, D.C. and in their Gulf coast
offices is key to successful outcomes. Federal agency
partners include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
(USACE), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA), Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, and
three other Department of the Interior bureaus–the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Geological Survey
(USGS), and the National Park Service (NPS).
BOEM’s goal is to contribute to the Nation’s environmental,
economic and recreational well-being as well as national
security through the completion of safe, sustainable
projects. Ongoing environmental and mineral resource
research will help speed future responses and decrease
uncertainty by knowing where suitable OCS sand and other
mineral resources are located when they are needed in the future.
Hurricane Katrina moves through
the Gulf of Mexico in late August, 2005.
This image shows the same location on August 31, 2005,
two days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall
on the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline.
Storm surge and large waves from Hurricane Katrina
submerged the islands, stripped sand from the
beaches, and eroded large sections of the marsh.
Deepwater Horizon – BOEM Response
Priorities and Challenges for the Future
Because coastal systems are constantly changing, BOEM’s priority is to be dynamic and ready to meet
the Nation’s coastal sand resource needs. Our planning depends on consultations with federal and state
partners, academia, professional groups and a diverse private sector to assess needs and concerns; and
conducting environmental research and analyses to make informed decisions. BOEM is not only
managing offshore sand for restoration projects but to protect it from conflicts with other OCS activities,
such as pipelines from offshore oil and gas operations.
Looking ahead, BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico regional office is working with the five Gulf Coast states to pursue
funding similar to that provided to Atlantic states after Sandy. The purpose is to develop and maintain a
Gulf of Mexico sand resources inventory/data base to support long- term restoration planning. Nationally,
BOEM is working with the USACE to establish a more formal mechanism to plan and coordinate long
term. Through enhanced coordination with Interior bureaus, we are working to leverage our expertise and
other resources with theirs. BOEM’s goal is to help communities make the best decisions to strengthen
coastal resilience in meaningful, sustainable ways.