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Gulf News November-December 2010
 
       Newsletter from the Gulf of Mexico Foundation

In This Issue

PRESIDENT: GMF looks towards future

RESTORATION: GMF helps restore marshes, takes lead

HCRT hosts International Integration Efforts Workshop

GMF partners with HRI in measuring ecosystem's value

Community-based Restoration Partnership

EDUCATION: Fall field trips connect students with nature

Reaching out to teachers in Texas at science conference

Distance learning at Youth Leadership Conference

STAFF: GMF supports local conservation awards

Find GMF on FaceBook

  American White Pelicans migrate to the Texas Gulf coast this fall after spending the summer in northern regions.  
PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
As oil spill fades, GMF looks towards future
October 2010 - As the specter of the Macondo blowout/spill fades into history, the science community can now focus on assessing the true facts of the environmental impact based on scientific investigation. The implementation and completion of these investigations will take time. It would be interesting to conduct the same type of rigorous analysis of economic impacts. No doubt individuals and businesses were negatively affected; but at the same time tens of billions of dollars were and will continue to be pumped into the affected areas. Some lost money and some made more money than they would have under natural conditions. This information would be instructive as we try to develop strategies for sustainability.
   The Gulf of Mexico Foundation continues to grow and expand its programs to greater areas of the Gulf of Mexico community. Working with the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Habitat Conservation and Restoration Team (HCRT), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration we hosted the first of three international workshops to address issues of
environmental sustainability.
CONTINUE READING PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
 
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CONSERVATION / RESTORATION
GMF helps restore marshes, takes lead role in conference
November 2010 - GMF's Ryan Fikes and Suraida Nañez-James took an active role in this year's Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) National Conference held in Galveston November 13-17. The two GMF staff members lead restoration events, guided field sessions and built partner-

GMF Science & Spanish Club students and partners from Marathon Oil Corporation volunteered to help restore marsh habitat in Galveston this fall as part of the Restore America's Estuaries National Conference. PHOTO: Ryan Fikes/GMF
ships in the event, which drew thousands from all over the US. The events kicked off on Saturday when more than 100 individuals planted Spartina (Cord Grass) in West Galveston Bay. As part of Texas Parks & Wildlife’s ongoing restoration efforts in the area, participants helped to restore vital marsh habitat for nesting birds and nursery habitat for fish. Taking part in the event were GMF Science & Spanish Club Network students and employees of GMF partner Marathon Oil Corporation. The following day Fikes, Nañez and project partners Nicole Ekstrom (Artist Boat) and Pat Kirk (Terramar BCIA) guided conference participants on a tour of West Galveston Island, showing them past and present efforts of the Gulf of Mexico Community-based Restoration Program. That afternoon, participants were guided by kayak through the marshes of Galveston Island State Park, where volunteers had conducted marsh plantings the day before. The focus was on the tremendous post-Ike recovery efforts made on West Galveston Island and on the community support that made it possible. The conference proceedings took place over the final three days of events, when GMF staff presented posters, surveyed stakeholders at the Foundation's booth, and moderated conference sessions. GMF is already planning to take an active role in the 2012 RAE conference to be held in Tampa, Florida.
 
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HCRT hosts International Integration Efforts Workshop in Veracruz
October 2010 - The first International Workshop on Integration Efforts took place in Veracruz, Mexico, October 14-15 and was organized by GMF and the Habitat Conservation Restoration Team (HCRT) which it coordinates for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. During this workshop representatives from both the US and Mexico worked side by side to identify ways to work more

Members of several Priority Issue Teams attend roundtable discussions in Veracruz at GOMA International Workshop.
PHOTO: Ryan Fikes/GMF
closely on issues that stretch beyond their respective national boundaries. In its team efforts, HCRT has endeavored to include professional scientists, resource managers and other stakeholders from both the US and Mexico. Funding from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program has helped to make this possible, along with the assistance of Dr. Cuauhtemoc Leon of Mexico, who has served as the team's liaison between the two countries. The workshop made great strides to establish a direction forward to tackle a few of the issues at hand. Future workshops will address potential collaboration efforts for policy, funding, land use planning and technology. As a result of the gathering, two working groups are determining needs and potential pilot projects. The Habitat and Environmental working group will focus on environmental education, sediment management and sea level rise, while the Policy and Management working group will focus on bilateral efforts that take into consideration the sociopolitical context of both countries and their differing legal frameworks.
 
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GMF partners with HRI in measuring ecosystem's value to humans

GMF is partnering in an effort to measure the benefits that ecosystems provide to humans.
PHOTO: GMF
December 2010 - Ecosystem services, the benefits ecosystems provide to humans, are the focus of collaboration among the GMF, Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and the Habitat Conservation and Restoration Team (HCRT) of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. The project area encompasses Galveston Bay, Texas, where HRI Endowed Chair for Socio-economics Dr. David Yoskowitz will lead the study. Researchers will first identify the primary services tied to the area's ecosystems and will then assess their value using either currency or non-monetary metrics. The results of a nearby GMF/HCRT sea level rise modeling project will dovetail with this effort. Scientists will estimate changes in ecosystems due to sea level rise and evaluate the impacts on human wellbeing - information which can guide those in decision-making and planning roles. The GMF and the HCRT have conducted sea level rise modeling projects around the Gulf of Mexico but are primarily focused on advancing the science to support better conservation and restoration decisions. This interdisciplinary approach should prove meaningful both to resource managers as they prioritize habitats and to coastal communities which benefit from these natural systems.
 
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Community-based Restoration Partnership celebrates 10 years
November 2010 - Seven new habitat restoration projects have been selected to receive funding through the Gulf of Mexico Community-based Restoration Partnership (GCRP), a program that has been coordinated and administered by the GMF since 2001. In its tenth year, the GCRP will

Oyster shells stockpiled at the Port of Corpus Christi will be used to restore a reef through a new 2011 GCRP projects.
PHOTO: Harte Research Institute
contribute more than $480,000 to support projects that aim to restore vital coastal and estuarine habitats for living marine resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Basin, while simultaneously engaging local communities through hands-on involvement. Projects for 2011 include oyster reef, mangrove, shoreline, marsh and hydrological restoration initiatives. Since 2001 the GCRP has funding nearly 80 habitat restoration projects, restored more than 2,500 acres of habitat, leveraged nearly $6 million in funding, and has contributed countless volunteer opportunities for students and community members. GCRP grants are made possible by funding from the NOAA Restoration Center and the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program.
 
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EDUCATION
Fall field trips connect Science & Spanish Club students with nature
December 2010 - Students in the GMF's Science & Spanish Club Network (SSCN) continued their field-based experiences this fall, gaining a better understanding of the physical world and the associated human impact issues. On November 13, students partnered with Marathon Oil Corporation employees on a wet chilly morning to transplant hundreds of Spartina (cord-grass)

GMF Science & Spanish Club Network students kayak in Mesquite Bay along the Texas Coast during a field trip this fall to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. They also received training in archery and birding.
PHOTO: Richard Gonzales/GMF
plants in a restoration project near Jamaica Beach on Galveston Island in Texas (related article). On the same day two SSCN schools boarded the Skimmer with Captain Tommy Moore at Fulton Harbor and to observe and photograph 32 adult Whooping Cranes and 11 chicks along the wetlands of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. On December 11, three more SSCN schools repeated the trip. Later that day Sinton students conducted a shoreline cleanup on Matagorda Island and received hands-on environmental education training on Whooping Crane habitat from US Fish and Wildlife Service educators. On November 29 (and again on December 16) SSCN students and the Welder Conservation Leadership Club traveled to the Rob and Bessie Wildlife Refuge for training in nature photography, capturing images of javelinas, white-tailed deer, insects and birds. Fall's cooler temperatures can’t keep these busy students out of the field, and they have more trips planned throughout the winter. All field trips were made possible by the Texas Coastal Management Program's Cycle 15 Grant Program.
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Reaching out to teachers in Texas at science conference
November 2010 - With more than 7,000 educators attending this year’s Conference for the

GMF Project Assistant Suraida Nañez-James, right, gives a teacher printed material about GMF's summer workshops.
PHOTO: James R. Jones/GMF
Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST) November 11-13 in Houston, Texas, the GMF connected with teachers from all over the state of Texas. GMF Project Assistant Suraida Nañez-James and Coordinator James R. Jones teamed up to present a workshop to promote the Foundation’s teacher training cruises, Down Under Out Yonder (DUOY) and Intracoastal Waterway Wetlands Cruise (IWWC). They also talked with teachers one on one and distributed information on GMF and its educational opportunities for teachers and their students. “The conference was informative and the teachers were very engaging. They were thrilled to hear that we offered such hands-on field training in wetlands and coral reefs. So, we are hoping to get a large amount of applicants for this coming year’s DUOY and IWWC expeditions.” Nañez-James said.
 
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Distance learning at Youth Leadership in Stewardship Conference
November 2010 - More than 150 students, faculty, presenters and guests attended the 6th Annual Gulf of Mexico Youth Leadership in Stewardship Conference on November 6 in Aransas

Science & Spanish Club Network students communicate with scientists from Canada and Puerto Rico via distance learning technology at the leadership conference.
PHOTO: Carrie Robertson/GMF
Pass, Texas. The students attending were all members of the GMF's Science & Spanish Club Network. During the morning students watched a giant TV screen to communicate in real time with scientists at Wood Buffalo National Park via web cameras. The main topic of the discussion was the endangered Whooping Crane which winters nearby at Aransas Pass National Wildlife Refuge. Wood Buffalo in Canada is the summer home of the only naturally migrating Whooping Crane flock. The students also asked questions to and learned from a scientist living along the mangrove-strewn shorelines of Jobos Bay, Puerto Rico. During lunch, SSCN Project Coordinator Richard Gonzales announced the regional winners of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Research Roundup and recognized three schools as Best of Country in the "Watershed Water Quality" competition. The afternoon breakout sessions highlighted terrestrial and aquatic robotics demonstrations conducted by Mood High School Robotics Teams, telerobotics by the Welder Wildlife Refuge, Surfing 101 by the Corpus Christi Surfriders Chapter, and Sea to Space to Sea robotics research conducted by GMF partner Oceaneering. The leadership conference was sponsored in part by the Coastal Management Program Grant Cycle 15 and NOAA.
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STAFF
GMF supports local conservation awards, attends banquet
November 2010 - GMF is proud to be an annual supporter of the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation's (CBBF) Conservation and Environmental Excellence Awards which are presented to outstanding citizens, educators, companies and organizations that have had a positive impact on the natural resources of this area along the central Texas coast. In 2006, GMF Project Coordinator

GMF staff members at the CBBF's Conservation and Environmental Excellence Awards Banquet at the Texas State Aquarium on Nov 18. The GMF shared a table with former Texas State Senator Carlos Truan and his wife Elvira. PHOTO: Carrie Robertson/GMF
Richard Gonzales was honored with a CBBF award for his work with the GMF's Science & Spanish Club Network. At this year's event held at the Texas State Aquarium, GMF staff members shared a table with former Texas State Senator Carlos Truan and his wife, Elvira. Sen. Truan has been a longtime supporter of both higher education and of natural resource conservation and preservation in the Coastal Bend. The CBBF works to support conservation efforts, as well as communication and education about the natural resources and coastal habitats of the Coastal Bend. Proceeds from the banquet help support those efforts throughout the year.
 
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