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A Partnership With a Purpose


March 20, 2000

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- The Gulf of Mexico Program announced the winners of the first-ever 2000 Gulf Guardian Awards today. The winners will be honored at a special luncheon April 11, at the 4th Gulf of Mexico Symposium being held in Mobile, Ala., April 9-12.

"The Gulf Guardian Award is a great way for the Gulf of Mexico Program partnership to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies who are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful, and productive, said Jim Giattina, Gulf Program Director. "We knew there were people out there doing good things, but we were overwhelmed at the quality projects we've learned about during this first award program. The Gulf Guardian Award exemplifies what the Gulf of Mexico Program is all about -- innovative solutions that come about when we pool resources and look for creative ways to positively impact our quality of life and economic well-being."

There were a total of 53 award entries from all five Gulf Coast states - Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas. A first, second, and third place winner is awarded in each of six categories: business, government, civic/nonprofit organizations, youth/education, partnerships, and individual.

"The numerical difference in selecting a first, second, or third place winner, and even those that didn't make the top 18, was mere decimal points," said Giattina. "The projects were all impressive," he added.



The first-place winner in the business category is The Bridges Golf Resort at Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis, Miss. The facility was designed by Palmer Design and constructed in 1996. It is located on approximately 110 acres with 35 acres of wetlands, wildlife corridors and 65 acres of maintained turf. Adjacent to the Bay of St. Louis, leading to the Mississippi Sound, in the Southern Coastal Plains region, coastal marsh lands surround the north, northwest and east sides of the course with the dominant ecological communities being pine flatwoods, salt marsh, and freshwater wetlands. Due to the environmentally sensitive location of the golf course, it was designed and continues to be maintained for recreation with conservation as a priority.

The Port of Houston Authority, Houston, Texas, is the first-place winner in the government category. The Port of Houston Authority, with assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, received Congressional authorization in 1996 to widen and deepen the Houston Ship Channel. The Galveston Bay portion of this project will generate approximately 88.3 million cubic yards of dredged material over the next 50 years. This project is recycling the dredged material by creating 4,250 acres of intertidal marsh and a six-acre bird island, thereby replacing critical habitat in Galveston Bay.

First-place in the civic-nonprofit category goes to the Galveston Bay Foundation and the Marsh Bash Steering Committee, Galveston, Texas. Marsh Bash 1999 was held on August 28, 1999. It was a record-breaking, community-based restoration event held at eight different locations within the Galveston Bay system. A total of 1,500 volunteers participated in the innovative event and planted 14.5 acres of habitat in 2.5 hours. Marsh Bash was a true cooperative effort among diverse sectors of the Bay community, including business, industry, government agencies, non-profit organizations, civic groups, schools, and citizens. Marsh Bash was initiated not only to create valuable habitat, but also to provide an educational opportunity for citizens to learn about the importance of wetlands for wildlife, fisheries, erosion control, and the reduction of nonpoint source pollution.



Steve Amos, President of 4empowerment.com, Austin, Texas, wins in the youth/education category. The company developed "Cyberways and Waterways™," which is an education program that integrates technology and education by means of an internet-based environmental curriculum centered on Texas' streams, rivers, coastlines, and oceans. This online and field study learning program offers students and teachers an unprecedented opportunity to study and electronically visualize the entire Texas watershed from school grounds and streams to the Flower Gardens coral reef 110 miles off the Texas shore in the Gulf of Mexico. The project was conceived and coordinated by 4empowerment.com and conducted by a consortium of nearly 30 organizations and eleven school districts.

In the partnership category, Hancock County in coastal Mississippi takes first-place. A cooperative effort between the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, Hancock County Board of Supervisors, and Hancock County Water and Sewer District resulted in a Strategic Wastewater Management Plan that is a model for other communities to follow. In September 1997, the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce Environmental Committee and the Hancock County Board of Supervisors brought together people in the community to develop a strategic plan for the management of wastewater in Hancock County. Chief among the participants were staff and Board members representing Hancock County Wastewater District No. 1 (since renamed Hancock County Water and Sewer District). The community initiated this effort to find solutions to the impairment of local water bodies from malfunctioning septic tanks and improve public health from the threat of contamination of drinking water in private wells. In three short years, through community planning and consensus building, support from the public, business, and political, sectors the partnership has generated more than $15 million in grants and loans for wastewater collection lines in Southern Hancock County. It is likely that by the end of fiscal year 2001, wastewater collection and treatment will be available to all homes and businesses in the county.



Linda Beyt from Lafayette, La., won first-place in the individual category. An extraordinary classroom teacher, Linda Beyt is a role model for all American teachers through her tireless efforts -- many times at her own expense -- to learn and teach about wetlands. This middle school teacher has become a recognized educational leader in Louisiana and New York, a partner in research projects from Maine to Florida, an instructor of university faculty to promote innovative technology in teaching science, and producer of an interactive CD-ROM entitled "Knee Deep in Louisiana Wetlands." As a public school teacher with more than 23 years of experience, she continues to share her passion for wetlands education with other teachers, the public, and teacher trainees. Through her CD-ROM, workshops, and university teaching, Linda has touched the lives of hundreds of middle school students and teachers. Her ongoing legacy is to make the young generation of Louisiana wetlands stewards of the future.

Second place winners of the 2000 Gulf Guardian Awards are:

Tie in Business: Texaco Inc. and Fuel & Marine Marketing, New Orelans, La., for the "Used Oil Recycling Initiative."

Tie in Business: Conoco Inc., Aransas, Texas, for the "St. Charles Field-Aransas National Wildlife Refuge: A Culture of Environmental Stewardship."

Youth/Education: J.L. Scott Marine Education Center & Aquarium, The University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs, Miss., for "Project Marine Discovery: On The Road."

Government: Southwest Florida Water Management District, Brooksville, Fla., for the "Florida Aquarium Stormwater Research/Demonstration Site."

Civic/Nonprofit Organization: Reef Relief in the Florida Keys for the "Coral Reef Conservation Program."

Individual: Les Hodgson of Brownsville, Texas, for the "Kemp's Ridley Turtle Restoration Project."

Partnerships: Texaco Inc., New Orleans, La., for their assistance in the "Jefferson Parish Christmas Tree Marsh Restoration Program."

Third place winners of the 2000 Gulf Guardian Awards are:



Youth/Education: Mississippi Power Company, Gulfport, Miss., for "Celebrate the Gulf: A Marine Education Festival."

Government: The Florida Marine Research Institute, Coastal & Marine Resource Assessment, St. Petersburg, Fla., for the "Marine Spill Analysis System."

Civic/Nonprofit Organization: Tampa Bay Sierra Club, Tampa, Fla., for the "Inner City Outings Program."

Individual: Kay L. Dantin, working for Chevron USA Production, Golden Meadow, La., for her work with the "Fourchon Beach Sweep."

Partnerships: Texaco Inc., New Orleans, La., for their assistance in "Americorps on the Bayou."

The Fourth Gulf of Mexico Symposium is offering more than 200 presentations in seven concurrent program tracks over three days. The event is expected to attract more than 1,000 registrants from the Gulf region and throughout the country. The Symposium is considered the nation's largest multi-disciplinary gathering for those concerned about the Gulf.

A highlight of the Symposium is the keynote address, scheduled for the Monday morning Opening Ceremony. Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University, the popular Pulitzer prize-winning author of On Human Nature and The Ants, will return to the site of his boyhood summers in coastal Alabama to deliver the keynote address on biodiversity, the Gulf of Mexico and the new millennium.

The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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 Coast states. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

For more information, please call Terry Hines Smith at 228-688-1159.

Posted: 4 April 2000

Gulf of Mexico Program Office
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
FAX: 228-688-2709

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