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It's Time Graphic
July 3, 2002

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that Marine Life Adventures will receive a third place Gulf Guardian Award for 2002 in the Nonprofit Organization Category for a project called Magnificent Mangroves. The award will be presented to a representative of the organization 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."

Utilizing a challenge grant from the EPA, the MLA program has begun to remove invasive Brazilian pepper plants from more than 1100 acres of wildlife preserve, state/city parks, and bordering private lands. The 2-year project can be divided into five separate activities: an Educator's workshop on Marine Plant Communities; a field course from Marine Life Adventures! (MLA) for 125 economically disadvantaged citizens from Clearwater's Brownfields area; the design and construction of a prototype mangrove planter box to front seawalls; a Brazilian pepper removal and subsequent re-planting of native vegetation; and the addition of an interactive mangrove display at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA). Partners include the Federal Government (EPA), State of Florida (DEP, Gulf Geoparks), Cities of Clearwater and Dunedin, Pinellas County Schools & Administration, a private timeshare property, and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Volunteers include many individuals and local businesses or organizations like the Scouts of America.

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.

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 Magnificent Mangroves, call Geoffrey Lane at 727-441-1790, ext. 240.

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

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