Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Releases Final Strategy DocumentGulf Restoration Network Applauds On-Going Effort, Calls on Congress to Fund the Outlined RestorationWith the release of the Task Force’s Final Strategy, we’re encouraged to see it accompanied by an announcement of funding from USDA for a specific project that advances the Strategy’s goals, and we look forward to other Task Force members quickly following that lead.The Final Strategy does a great job of articulating the 30,000 foot perspective, and we anxiously look forward to the specific, measurable goals and timelines that the Final Strategy promises in the next six months to guide prioritized restoration projects on the ground. Essentially, the Gulf region needs a major investment from the nation, and while any good business plan needs a strong narrative, no smart investor would ever consider a new business that didn’t have a budget, clear distribution of responsibilities, and specific goals with timelines.The White House, EPA, and states are doing their part by creating and working towards implementation of this strategy, and now it’s on Congress to make a sound investment in the Gulf coast by passing the RESTORE Act to direct BP’s Clean Water Act fines to fund restoration initiatives. The billions of dollars that RESTORE will direct to the Gulf will be crucial in fixing the damage done over the years that the Gulf has been America’s energy sacrifice zone. We’re calling on leaders in Congress to move this critical piece of legislation immediately.The Final Strategy document clearly incorporates much of the huge outpouring of public comment that it received by focusing on the next six month’s implementation plan development, but it must be noted that the long-promised Citizens’ Advisory Council to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force has yet to be seated. To continue to gain the valuable insights provided by the public and ensure strong partnerships moving forward, the Citizens’ Advisory Council must be instated immediately.Gulf Restoration Network thanks the Task Force for their hard work so far, and we look forward to seeing results on-the-ground soon.Any portion of this statement may be quoted with attribution to Aaron Viles, Deputy Director of the Gulf Restoration Network.