Contacts: Caryl Fagot
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Mobile District. The agreement will be a key component in support of the long-term recovery of the Mississippi Gulf Coast from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and other storms. This project will take up to 19.6 million cubic yards of sand from ten Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) locations—the largest volume of OCS sand conveyed by BOEM’s Marine Minerals Program to date—to restore Ship Island within the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi, which is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (NPS).
This project will directly benefit the Mississippi coastal counties of Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson, increasing resiliency against damage from future storms. In addition to facilitating recovery from past hurricane impacts, this project will also make great strides to supplement a deficit in the coastal sand resources, mitigating for past navigational dredging and sand disposal activities that altered sediment availability and transport along the barrier islands.
“BOEM is pleased to cooperate with the Army Corps of Engineers on this extensive project, which will improve the resilience of Mississippi Gulf Coast barrier islands and the coastal ecosystem for the people of Mississippi to enjoy for decades to come,” said Acting BOEM Director Walter Cruickshank.
This initial project plan assumed that borrow areas would be available within the immediate project area. However, the project design team determined that using nearshore sand resources would compromise the integrity of the active coastal system and project area, and cost and environmental evaluations concluded that OCS sand resources would be needed to provide sufficient quantities to achieve project goals.
The USACE requested BOEM to authorize use of OCS sand to implement the project and signed a Record of Decision (ROD) in June 2016. BOEM developed a ROD which was signed on September 6, 2016 and published in the Federal Register on September 16, 2016.
The mission of BOEM’s Marine Minerals Program is to facilitate access to and manage the Nation’s OCS non-energy marine minerals, particularly sand and gravel, through environmentally responsible stewardship of resources, prudent assessments of exploration and leasing activities, coordination with governmental partners, engagement of stakeholders, strategic planning, and mission-focused scientific research to improve decision-making and risk management.
BOEM has the authority to convey sand resources from the OCS for shore protection, beach or wetland restoration projects undertaken by a federal, state or local government. In exercising this authority, BOEM may issue a negotiated non-competitive lease for the use of OCS sand to a qualifying entity.