Task force: Restoring sediment key to Gulf revival

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI | June 27, 2011 | 1:45 PM EDT

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Officials surveying damage to the Gulf Coast since last year's disastrous oil spill say one of their biggest challenges is restoring the flow of sediment that is crucial to the wetlands and barrier islands that provide habitat to wildlife and protect residents from storms.

Environmental Protection Agency director Lisa P. Jackson said Monday that reusing sediments and re-nourishing the wetlands is a top priority. She says a chunk of the $1 billion that BP has dedicated to the area will likely go toward sediment projects.

Jackson chairs the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force established by President Barack Obama after the oil spill.

The five Gulf states pin parts of their economies and storm protection on rapidly eroding barrier islands and wetlands.