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It's Time Graphic
July 3, 2002

The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the FISH Preserve in Cortez, Fla., will receive a first place Gulf Guardian Award for 2002 in the Nonprofit Organization Category. The award will be presented to representatives of the FISH Preserve at the Clean Gulf Conference scheduled for Nov. 5-7, in Galveston, Texas.

Three years ago the Gulf of Mexico Program developed the Gulf Guardian awards as a method of recognizing and honoring 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 Gulf Guardian Awards take on special significance in 2002 as we celebrate 30 years since the passage of the Clean Water Act, said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. The efforts of those being recognized as Gulf Guardians are key to our success as we address water issues. These award winners accepted the challenge and have joined us as we restore and protect our nation's waters for future generations."

The Fish Preserve is the result of many private individuals working toward a common goal. In December of 2000 Mrs. Louise Schewe agreed to sell 95 acres of undeveloped land situated between Sarasota Bay and Cortez Road in Bradenton, Fla. This land consists of 72 acres of mangroves and 23 acres of uplands. Mrs. Schewe's asking price from Fish was $250,000. She accepted a $1000 down payment and financed the remaining principal for four years at eight percent interest. Local newspapers referred to it as the deal of the century. Fish has received donations from $1 up to $10,000.

The most unique aspect of this project is that is even happened, said Karen Bell, Fish Preserve treasurer. Land values in Manatee County and Florida have skyrocketed in recent years. Ninety-five acres on Sarasota Bay has got to be worth a fortune. For Mrs. Schewe to agree to something so wonderful at such an incredible price almost seemed too good to be true. She gave an incredible gift to everyone and inspired many to follow in her footsteps with acts of generosity and good will.

Gulf of Mexico Program Office Director Jim Giattina said, 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. We are all one Gulf community and have only one Gulf of Mexico. Projects like these are helping to protect our local coastal waters, which significantly contributes to the Gulf's beauty and value, said Giattina.

"The members of FISH were thrilled to learn that the FISH Preserve had won first place in the non-profit category of the Gulf Guardian Awards Program, said Bell. This land preservation effort is so very important to the people of Cortez and Manatee County -- it's nice to know that others are appreciative of what it has taken to make this a reality."

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2002, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at https://www.epa.gov/gmpo and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button on the left.

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 the Fish Preserve, call Karen Bell at 941-794-1249.

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

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