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Gulf News March-April 2011
 
       Newsletter from the Gulf of Mexico Foundation

In This Issue

Dokken spreads message far and wide

Offshore Technology Conference to recognize GMF for achievement

GMF speaks up for Gulf restoration efforts after Gulf oil spill

Nañez-James attends NOAA evaluation training

GMF’s Richard Gonzalez recognized in environmental awards

Foundation's conservation efforts merge with Mexico's LME

Smith participates in EPA wetlands review on Galveston Bay

Foundation joins as partner, sponsor for State of the Gulf Summit

Second annual IWWE trip reaches educators, then students

  .GMF President/CEO Quenton Dokken has been traveling the Gulf and beyond, giving his perspective on the Gulf oil spill.  
Dokken spreads message far and wide
April 2011 - GMF President/CEO Dr. Quenton Dokken has been active on the speakers’ circuit this spring. The one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill on April 20 has brought the event back into the media's spotlight, prompting reporters to seek out the marine science community for answers. They report Dokken's voice as one that speaks not of doom and gloom but of the Gulf's ability to rebound from the disaster. He's spreading the message far and wide that the answer is not to stop drilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico but to develop better and safer prevention and response technology. "We must critically review the past and manage the present," he says. His May engagements include speaking at an environmental conference of the International Association of Drilling Contractors and at a conference of the International Oil Spill Committee. In June he will speak at an international conference on sustainability in Germany.
READ PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
STAFF
Offshore Technology Conference to recognize GMF for achievement
May 2011 – On May 1 the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston will recognize the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, presenting it with the Distinguished Achievement Award. The GMF is the first non-profit to receive the award, which benefits a group that is making a difference in protection and preservation of the Gulf of Mexico. "Receiving this award communicates that our programs and initiatives are seen as significant contributions. We at the Foundation pride ourselves in representing all Gulf of Mexico stakeholders and are elated to receive this award for our work in the region," said GMF's Deputy Director Ryan Fikes.
 
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GMF speaks up for Gulf restoration efforts after Gulf oil spill
March 2011 – GMF Deputy Director Ryan Fikes recently attended a meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force in New Orleans to hear an update on Task Force actions, as well as to attend listening sessions for business, industry, NGO’s, academia and the general public. The Task Force asked participants what would make them feel like the Task Force was being respectful of them as constituents. In general, participants responded that they were seeking transparency in Task Force actions and wanted to have their voices included in the decision-making process. The Task Force embodies only state and federal government representatives and is being chaired by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Public listening sessions scheduled to take place around the Gulf Coast are open to the public. The Task Force was created by Executive Order in 2010 upon the recommendation by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ report on long-term recovery following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. A year later, the Task Force was charged with development of a restoration strategy that proposes a Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration agenda.
TASK FORCE WEBSITE
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Nañez-James attends NOAA evaluation training
March 2011 – GMF staff member Suraida Nañez-James attended the NOAA Coastal Services Center Training Program, "Planning for Meaningful Evaluation," March 1-2 in Spanish Fort, Alabama. The training focused on the increasing demand for evidence of program accountability and impact and provided an in-depth understanding of the elements of evaluation. "This workshop will help me make informed choices to create fundamentally sound evaluation plans for existing or longstanding programs here at GMF," said Nañez-James. Other plans include sharing the resources provided by the workshop with other GMF staff members so they too can apply the training when evaluating various GMF programs.
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GMF’s Richard Gonzales recognized in environmental awards
April 2011 – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will recognize GMF's Project Coordinator Richard Gonzales as a finalist in the Individual category during its annual Environmental Excellence Awards banquet at the Convention Center in Austin, Texas, on May 4.
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SSCN's Richard Gonzales (right) will receive a TCEQ award, along with Fulton faculty Jan Garcia and Principal Jeremy Saegert.
Gonzales heads the GMF's Science & Spanish Club Network (SSCN). The TCEQ also awarded Fulton Learning Center with an award in the Youth category and Valley Proud Environmental Council with an award in the Community/Civic category. Gonzles has worked with both of those groups through the GMF's SSCN. The Fulton students participated in the GMF's World Seagrass Day Festival of Knowledge and the Valley Proud group from Harlingen, Texas, participated in the 2011 Limpienato Parade organized by the GMF to educate people about the problem of litter on the South Texas coast. "I am so proud to know that I have been working with other individuals and organizations that share the same passion for coastal environmental education and outreach efforts," said Gonzales.
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CONSERVATION/RESTORATION
Foundation's conservation efforts merge with Mexico's LME
February 2011 –  After hosting the First International Workshop on Integration Efforts in October 2010, the GMF joined forces with the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem (GoM LME) Project. GMF’s International Integration project seeks to integrate Gulf of Mexico conservation activities on both sides of the border. The GoM LME, a project funded by the United Nations Industrial
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The Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem International Forum held February 21-23 continued the progress made in an international workshop that the GMF sponsored in 2010.
Development Organization, shares that objective. The GMF project falls under its work with the Habitat Conservation & Restoration Team of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. To capitalize on the synergies between the two efforts, the GMF incorporated its second workshop into the GoM LME International Forum held February 21-23 in Veracruz, Mexico. This strategy added new dimensions to the transboundary analysis of issues, capacities, and constraints that will lay the foundation for coordinated Gulf management at an international scale. Scientists and government representatives from both countries met together to foster a more cohesive vision of how resources, personnel and strategies can be pooled by the partners to advance stewardship objectives in the Gulf of Mexico. The group hopes that this international collaboration will yield concrete and focused actions geared to viable, evolutionary change.
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Smith participates in EPA Wetland Review on Galveston Bay
February 2011 - In an effort to better understand the status of coastal wetlands and the factors affecting them most, the EPA Coastal Wetlands Team is taking a close look at several coastal watersheds on the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. At a Coastal Wetlands Team "Wetland Review" meeting on February 23 in Galveston, Texas, GMF Project Coordinator Mikell Smith brought several Galveston-area GMF/Gulf of Mexico Alliance projects to the table, including a plan for 

GMF is working to minimize impacts to marshes from sea level rise and brought that information to the table in Galveston on February 23.
managing sediment resources in West Galveston Bay, another that projects sea level rise (SLR) impacts to marshes, and an evaluation of the benefits from marsh habitat (ecosystem services). To leverage local knowledge with other available information, the EPA team is engaging local stakeholders through workshops like the one in Galveston, where participants identify factors causing stress to area wetlands, along with tools and strategies. Then they prioritize them through a consensus process. Stakeholders who could not attend the Galveston workshop were given the opportunity to participate via telephone conference. Local experts expounded to further characterize the stressors and identified additional information resources for EPA Environmental Scientist Jennifer Linn, who facilitated the workshop. Programmatic and Regulatory Issues came in as the top vote-getter on the list of stressors, with Development/Upland Conversion close behind. The review process will inform potential program and policy changes to help reverse the decline of coastal wetlands.
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PARTNERSHIPS
Foundation joins as partner, sponsor for State of the Gulf Summit
Spring 2011 - The Gulf of Mexico Foundation is proud to be a partner for the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit 2011, which will be held December 4-8 in Houston. Hosted by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, the event is committed to the ecological and economic interests in the Gulf of Mexico and is focused on action. The diversity of public and private actors working on conservation and recovery in the Gulf and the very broad range of issues involved suggests a strong need for a platform to develop a shared vision of a healthy Gulf. The Summit will provide this platform, allowing government, non-governmental organizations and academic experts to share knowledge and lessons learned and to formulate a roadmap for restoring the Gulf. Issues to be discussed will include loss of wetlands, hypoxia, coastal resiliency, ecosystem health, marine protected areas, international cooperation, oil spill recovery, and social and economic recovery.
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EDUCATION/TRAINING
Second annual IWWE trip reaches educators, then students
March 2011 – Educators from Texas, New Jersey and Mexico spent their Spring Break exploring the Intracoastal Waterway from Texas to Louisiana March 13-18, learning about the living and
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GMF's Suraida Nañez-James, left, is leading and organizing GMF's expeditions for educators.
working Gulf coast. The trip marked the GMF's second annual Intracoastal Waterway Wetlands Expedition (IWWE), one of the newest educational programs sponsored by ConocoPhillips. The five-day live-aboard expedition gives educators the chance to learn about the importance of balancing the environment and the economy not only through lectures, discussions and activities, but through first-hand observations of natural habitats mixed with tourism, industry and development activity. GMF Project Coordinator Suraida Nañez-James runs the program and leads many of the onboard and field educational components. In addition to the experience, educators also receive a bag of classroom resources that are donated for the trip to supplement their school's curriculum and to share with their students. The Spring Break expedition culminated with the teachers planting 300 black mangrove plants in a Houston-area marine restoration project to create new bird habitat. A second IWWE is set for this summer, June 19-24. Application deadline is April 27. READ MORE
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