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Texas Prairie Wetlands Project Merits Gulf Guardian Award

Seven out of 18 awards go to Texas projects; 1st place honors taken in 4 of 7 categories

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- The "Texas Prairie Wetlands Project" (TPWP) is one of several 2001 "Gulf Guardian" award winners from Texas recognized at the opening day luncheon for the Environmental Trade Fair going on now through May 2 at the Austin Convention Center.

"Gulf Guardian" awards stem from the Gulf of Mexico Program, a partnership formed in 1988 to develop strategies to protect, restore and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Entries came from the 5 states bordering the Gulf of Mexico–Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Commissioner John M. Baker of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission said, "We do have a lot to be proud of here in Texas." Of the 18 "Gulf Guardian" awards presented, seven went to Texas projects, and four of those winning efforts, including the TPWP, received 1st place honors.

Accepting TPWP’s award in the Partnership category was Mr. John Burt, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The TPWP involves historic waterfowl migration and wintering areas in 28 counties along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Since 1991, wetlands enhancement and restoration assistance has been provided on 281,016 acres held by 400 landowners through this project. TPWP also installed 460 wetlands units on 18,078 acres, with another 1,744 acres presently under agreement for construction by 180 landowners. These wetlands provide habitat for migratory water birds and other wetland species. They also catch and hold floodwater, thereby reducing damages downstream, and act as a filtering system for the Gulf of Mexico and adjoining bays and estuaries.

"Partnerships are one of the elements that define the Gulf of Mexico Program," said Jim Giattina, program director. "We began the Gulf Guardian Awards to highlight and honor some of the partnership and other projects that are helping the environment and water quality in Texas, other Gulf states, and in the Gulf of Mexico. We are all one Gulf community and have only one Gulf of Mexico. Projects like this are helping to protect our local coastal waters, which significantly contributes to the Gulf’s beauty and value," he added.

Funding for the project comes from NRCS, the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and private landowners.

Texas contenders also finished in 1st place in Business, Non-Profit Organization and Individual categories. Second place honors for Business and Non-Profit projects, and a 3rd place award for a Youth/Education project, also received recognition at the luncheon.

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 states. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call Terry Hines Smith at 228-688-1159. For more information about NRCS and the Texas Prairie Wetlands Project, call Nancy Fierstien at 512-239-5011; pager 512-896-3727. For information about TNRCC and their participation in the Gulf of Mexico Program, call Andy Saenz at 512-239-5018.

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

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