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Miss. governor: $69M more for Gulf restoration

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- BP PLC is paying $69 million for interactive exhibits at a Hancock County science center, a concrete pathway on the beach at Pascagoula, up to six miles of shoreline and improvements at a park as part of Mississippi Gulf Coast restoration from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gov. Phil Bryant said.

The money is part of $1 billion the oil giant agreed two years ago to pay for early restoration work after the 2010 disaster. The money is going to Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and the federal government. Each state is to get at least $100 million.

Mississippi has now received a total of $82.6 million, Bryant said Thursday.

He said the money will go to four projects across the Mississippi Coast.

"These four projects, which extend across the entirety of our Gulf Coast counties, are an important step in that journey. Each addresses a critical part of restoration of the natural resource and recreational losses caused by the spill. In whole, they will help to restore and enhance a wide array of habitat, from oyster and fish to marshes and the public's opportunities to enjoy and better understand the intricate Gulf Coast environment," Bryant said in a statement.

Mississippi's project were proposed as a result a public comment process on the Gulf Coast and were negotiated with BP and Mississippi's federal and state partners. The projects will go through another phase of public review and comment before work begins.

"Although a number of the project locations were not directly injured by the accident, the projects address loss of use by providing residents and visitors with new recreational options, better access to existing natural resources and a greater opportunity to enjoy them," a statement from BP said. It said three other projects in Mississippi were approved earlier.

In Hancock County, funds will spent for construction of up to six miles of living shoreline. About 46 acres will be placed to protect and enhance the existing shoreline near Heron Bay. Another 46 acres of sub-tidal oyster reef would be created in Heron Bay to protect the shallow bay and increase oyster production in the area.

Funds will be used for interactive exhibits at the INFINITY Science Center in Hancock County.

Construction on the Popp's Ferry Causeway Park in Harrison County will include an interpretive center, trails, boardwalks, and other recreational enhancements.

Funds will be used on the Pascagoula Beachfront Promenade in Jackson County to help complete a two-mile, 10-foot wide lighted concrete pathway complete with amenities.