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USFWS Southwest Regional Office, Gladys Porter Zoo - Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Recovery Program - 2nd PLACE GULF GUARDIAN AWARD

Release Date: 03/28/2006
Contact Information: Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726

(STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - March 28, 2006) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Recovery Program will receive a second place Gulf Guardian Award for 2005 in the Partnerships Category. The awards will be presented at the State of the Gulf Conference 2006, to be held March 28, 2006, at the Harte Research Institute in Corpus Christi, Texas, beginning at 6 p.m.

The Kemp's ridley sea turtle recovery program was informally initiated 27 years ago to prevent the impending extinction of the species. The primary purpose of the program is to increase the number of turtle hatchlings returning to sea by protecting turtle nests and deposited eggs along the Tamaulipas coastline. At the same time, program partners work with the Tamaulipas communities to create a beneficial economic venture; a ceramics industry based on the existence of the turtle. Communities also are engaged in education efforts with children. Project partners include the U.S. and Mexican governments, the Gladys Porter Zoo, the communities of the Tamaulipas coastline, the U.S. and Mexican fishing industries, and myriad public and private contributors of funding and time. Success of the project is measured in the number of returning turtles, hatchling numbers and hatchling releases to the Gulf of Mexico.

"The Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2005 are prime examples of collaborative environmental efforts leading to neighborhood solutions that transcend political boundaries," said Benjamin Grumbles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water in Washington, D.C. "I commend all of the winners for their innovative partnerships, common sense ideas, and hard work. Their efforts are making a difference in protecting and restoring the Gulf of Mexico."

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. Award entries were received from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. A first, second, and third place award are given each year in six categories - individual, business, youth and education, nonprofit organizations, government, and partnership efforts.

"The issues affecting the Gulf coast are extraordinarily varied, ranging from the weather to the economy. The partners who work together to address these issues must be similarly varied, bringing skills from every aspect of our society," EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said. "I applaud this year's winners of the Gulf Guardian Awards for their leadership and their ability to join together and achieve their extraordinary goals."

Gulf of Mexico Program Office Director Bryon O. Griffith said, "This year's Gulf Guardian Award winners encapsulate the essence of the Gulf of Mexico Program and our efforts to attain environmental solutions in concert with economic growth. Environmental successes are exponential when you bring the resources of many to the table, as the 2005 winners have so successfully demonstrated."

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2005, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button.

The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the EPA and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf states. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.


Note to correspondents: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call the Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726. For more information about the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Recovery Program, call Christopher Botnick at 505-248-6653, or the Gladys Porter Zoo at 956-546-7187.