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Gulf News January-February 2011
 
       Newsletter from the Gulf of Mexico Foundation

In This Issue

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Dokken serves on deepwater committee

Fikes represents GMF at national conference in Washington, DC

GMF hosts Board of Directors meeting, reception in Galveston

GMF furthers sediment management efforts in Galveston

Foundation, law institute partner on restoration policy assessment

Translated docs assist with international integration

Applications open for teacher wetlands, coral reef expeditions

GMF strengthens role within Environmental Education

SSCN prepares for World Seagrass Day Festival

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STAFF
Dokken serves on deepwater committee
January 2011 - GMF President/CEO Quenton Dokken has accepted a reappointment from Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, to serve a third term on the Ultra-Deepwater Advisory Committee (UDAC). The committee was established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and its goal is to provide advice to the Secretary on the development and implementation of activities related to ultra-deepwater natural gas and other petroleum resources. The term of the appointment covers years 2010-2012. Dr. Dokken has served two previous terms on the committee with emphasis on environmental protection and safe operations.
 
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Fikes represents GMF at national conference in Washington, DC
January 2011 - GMF Deputy Director Ryan Fikes traveled to Washington, DC, January 19-21 to participate in the 11th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment. Hosted by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), this year’s conference theme was

GMF Deputy Director Ryan Fikes
“Our Changing Oceans,” focusing on the need for adaptive management in a time of profound change for our oceans. Fikes participated in sessions focused on linking science and policy, and he helped to develop targeted and actionable recommendations through break-out sessions during the conference. Many of the recommendations developed by conference participants directly relate to the Foundation’s conservation initiatives, such as coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) and adaptation to climate change work done through the GMF's Gulf of Mexico Alliance efforts.
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BOARD
GMF hosts Board of Directors meeting, reception in Galveston

GMF Board Chairman Wayne Johnson, left, GMF President/CEO Quenton Dokken, GMF Executive Assistant Bobbi Reed and GMF Business Manager Gail Sutton attend the February Board meeting. PHOTO: Mikell Smith/GMF
February 2011 – The Foundation held its first Board of Directors meeting for 2011 in Galveston, Texas, February 8-9. The focus was on future projects and programs for the Foundation. On Feb 8, Oceaneering International, Inc., hosted a reception for Board Members and friends and provided an opportunity to meet with local Galveston officials. Events such as that provide an excellent opportunity to spread the word about the GMF's actions and goals to strive for a healthier and more productive Gulf of Mexico.
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CONSERVATION/RESTORATION
GMF furthers sediment management efforts in West Galveston Bay
February 2011 - In collaboration with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's Habitat Conservation & Restoration Team, GMF has contracted with PBS&J to conduct a regional sediment management

Project boundary for the West Galveston Bay Sediment Management Project being conducted by PBS&J. (Click map to enlarge)
(RSM) plan for West Galveston Bay on the Texas coast. This effort will complement a recently completed plan conducted by Moffat & Nichol for the US Army Corps of Engineers by focusing on the western portion of the bay. One of the main causes of erosion of salt marshes and other habitats is the lack of natural sediment supply. Modifications to these natural systems have resulted in changes in the distribution and amount of sediment flowing into West Galveston Bay. The plan will serve as a guide to the beneficial use of sediment resources, including dredged materials as well as the natural sediments in the system. Both will be identified in the plan for use in future habitat restoration projects. Project elements include a sediment budget, sediment transport model, compilation of potential sediment sources and listings of prior and potential projects. Inventory and analysis of geologic features and morphology will support restoration project planning. One particularly unique task will entail evaluating the carbon sequestration benefits of restored wetlands in the West Galveston Bay area.
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Foundation, law institute partner on restoration policy assessment
February 2011 - Policies and programs designed to support habitat conservation and restoration can sometimes inhibit their own success. For example, requirements of state and federal programs may conflict or other weaknesses may exist in the program management systems and the laws that regulate them. To address this issue, GMF has contracted the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) to conduct an analysis of policy and programs intended to protect coastal habitats in the Gulf Coastal Zone. The policy analysis will identify impediments, challenges and opportunities for improvement, all of which are main action items for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's Habitat Conservation & Restoration Team, in which the GMF plays a lead role. To accomplish the assessment, ELI will engage stakeholders, analyze policy and develop recommendations. Involving stakeholders with a range of relevant interests will allow those most affected by existing policies to identify the issues. To help understand the root causes, an expert legal team will research the underlying laws, rules and programs. This research may also uncover additional problems which can be presented to a stakeholder advisory group. Through this approach, practical solutions and recommendations will be technically and legally feasible and responsive to those who will most be impacted by them.
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Translated GOMA documents assist with international integration

The 2010 GOMA Accomplishments Report is an example of one of the documents that have been translated into Spanish to aid in International Integration efforts.
February 2011 – Thanks to support provided by the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program, the GMF is working to develop a more international Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA). As coordinator of GOMA's Habitat Conservation & Restoration Team (HCRT), GMF is reaching across national boundaries on issues of mutual concern. To bridge the language gap between the US and Mexico, GMF has translated several GOMA documents into Spanish. The documents describe the overall GOMA priority issues and action steps, as well as highlight past successes and existing projects. To carry the efforts forward, the HCRT is hosting bi-national workshops in Mexico to discuss habitat challenges and strategies for proactively addressing issues. The HCRT's immediate goal is to assess state-specific technical, management, and governance issues related to coastal and marine ecosystem and habitat-based conservation and restoration in the six Mexican states that border the Gulf of Mexico. The next international meeting will take place jointly as part of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization's Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem project in Veracruz, Mexico, in late February.
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EDUCATION
Applications open for 2011 teacher wetlands, coral reef expeditions
January 2011 - Application deadlines for the GMF educator training expeditions are coming up soon. The GMF offers two professional development workshops for both formal and non-formal educators aboard the 100-foot live-aboard vessel Fling. The newest educator training expedition, the Intracoastal Waterway Wetlands Expedition, (IWWE) allows participants to explore diverse habitats and communities along the Gulf coast, while learning the importance of balancing both the environment and the economy through hands-on field and classroom activities. This year the GMF is offering a spring trip March 13-18 (spots still available) and a summer trip June 19-24 (application deadline is April 18.) The GMF is also accepting applications for our Down Under, Out Yonder (DUOY) coral reef ecology trip where educators from around the nation dive into the depths of the Gulf around the Flower Garden
Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Educators receive resource guides with lessons and activities to take back into the classroom. Non-divers are invited to participate in a Corals to Classrooms program for two days prior to the diver portion. DUOY will be held July 9-13 and the deadline for applications is February 25, 2011. Apply now!
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GMF strengthens role within Environmental Education Network
February 2011 – GMF staff members Richard Gonzales and Suraida Nanez-James chair and co-chair three working groups for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's Environmental Education Network (EEN). These working groups serve as important conduits for distributing educational information among the Gulf States and provide ways for organizations to partner and collaborate on projects. Gonzales chairs the Upper 33 Lower 6 working group which is focused on strengthening the connections and collaborative efforts with
Gulf watershed colleagues in the US and Mexico. Nanez-James co-chairs the Underserved and Underrepresented Populations (UUP) working group with Greg Ira, Director for the Office of Environmental Education in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The UUP supports efforts and projects that effectively deliver programs to groups that have strong cultural differences and that are traditionally underrepresented in environmental education programming. Nanez-James also co-chairs the Economic Value Communication working group with Kenneth Rainer, Education Specialist for the Harte Research Institute. This newly formed group is currently gathering ecosystem services information that can be utilized by educators to communicate the economic value of Gulf ecosystems in environmental education.
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SSCN prepares for World Seagrass Day Festival of Knowledge

SSCN students will learn skills such as measuring seagrass at the World Seagrass Day Festival of Knowledge.
PHOTO: R Gonzales/GMF
February 2011 - This winter, GMF's Science & Spanish Club students and faculty have been organizing and promoting the Second Annual World Seagrass Day Festival of Knowledge, an event that will be held on March 4 at the Civic Center in Aransas Pass, Texas. Last March, more than 400 4th-6th grade students attended the first World Seagrass Day, and this year the festival promises to be larger and more eventful. The target audience is residents of coastal communities that are located near seagrass meadows. The aim is to increase residents' understanding of and appreciation for the importance that seagrasses play in ecosystem function, including critical habitat for fish, shrimp and crabs. This year's Festival of Knowledge will include a distance-learning component, made possible through a new working relationship between GMF and Florida Sea Grant Program at Navarre Beach in Santa Rosa County. The partnership will connect Texas and Florida through the celebration of seagrasses and sea turtles, bringing students from both states together.
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