Settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill will finance a $160 million restoration of two barrier islands and a headland off the coast of Terrebonne Parish.

Standing in Government Tower in Houma on Friday afternoon, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will be fully paying for the project that will restore 1,100 acres of beach, dune and marsh habitat on the East-Trinity and Timbalier islands and the West Belle Pass Headland.

Edwards said once the project is complete, it will be the largest restoration to date based on acreage.

"We're building bigger and better than ever," he said. "You need it. You deserve it."

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation was awarded $2.5 billion of settlement money from BP and Transocean in 2013 that created the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. Half of that money is required to go toward barrier island and river diversion projects in Louisiana.

In June, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority signed an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to dredge 10 million cubic yards of sand from federal waters for the project.

Weeks Marine Inc., the contractor that completed the Caminada Headlands beach restoration, was awarded the construction bid in August.

Restoration and nourishment of the islands and marsh is expected to strengthen the buffer against storms that come through the Gulf of Mexico and Terrebonne Parish.

State Rep. Jerome Zeringue, R-Houma, said projects of this scale are "critical for the people who live here."

"That for us is our life blood and the only way we'll continue to survive as a community is to have these restoration projects," he said.

State Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, added that the goal is to ensure future generations aren't as impacted by hurricanes as people have been in the past.

"Those are moments in time for all of us," he said. "That affects you for the rest of your life."

Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove thanked the governor and the CPRA for their efforts in securing money for both the restoration project and an additional $12.5 million in state construction money toward levee projects in Gibson and Montegut.

"That's a total of $172 million that's moving forward today. It's just unheard of," Dove said

Since 2008, he noted, this will mark $564 million worth of projects under construction.

Edwards said the $12.5 million for levee construction and improvements will come from the state's $500 million budget surplus.

Dove said that money will be used by the Terrebonne Parish Levee and Conservation District to drive sheet pilings for the three miles of the J2 reach of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system that was overtopped by Hurricane Barry in Montegut in July.

Those pilings will provide 15 feet worth of protection, he said. The parish temporarily built the levee up to 9 feet in case another storm hit after Barry.

The money will also go toward finishing 17 miles of levee in the Bayou Black area stretching from Waterproof at Miners Canal to Geraldine Road to La. 182 in Gibson.

Dove credited the levee board and Councilwoman Arlanda Williams for their work to get money for the levee in Gibson and Bayou Black.

Williams, who is leaving office this fall after four terms, said she was grateful to the governor for the support shown to the parish and her district.

"The parish president, the levee board and the parish council have stood with me in my quest to help the residents of Gibson," she said. "Many lost hope but thanks to the perseverance, the audacity of hope prevailed."

"Merry Christmas, Gibson," she added.

Dove said that he had his eye on more projects and is trying to get money to place segmented breakwater rocks in front of the barrier islands to the south.

Dredging for the restoration of the two barrier islands and the headland is expected to being in early 2020 and take about two years to complete.

Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at hparker@houmatoday.com or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker.