Youth Education Category

 

1st Place

Project #:

GG-04-22                                                                                        LA

Company:

Crescent Soil and Water Conservation District

Project Name:

LaBranche Wetland Watchers

Category:

Youth/Education

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

20.25

 

The LaBranche Wetland Watchers is a school-based service-learning project that was started in 1998 to integrate environmental issues into the curriculum. Over 3,800 fifth through seventh grade students have participated in service trips to an adopted site near the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Students plan and participate in activities such as water quality monitoring, macro-invertebrate collection and identification, litter clean-ups, soil and plant identification, tree planting, and mapping out a public nature trail. Students have spoken to over 40,000 people across southeastern Louisiana. Through education, service, and awareness, students led a community effort for wetland conservation.  The service site has exhibited some of the greatest amount of land loss along the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline. It faces development problems with a proposed airport, has huge litter and dumping problems, and suffers greatly from salt water intrusion.  It is the focus of many federal and state restoration projects and refinery mitigation projects and serves as a microcosm of problems that wetlands are facing locally and globally. The primary objective of the LaBranche Wetland Watchers is to encourage wetland conservation through Education, Service, and Awareness.

 

 

2nd Place

Project #:

GG-04-30                                                                                          TX

Company:

Texas A&M, Corpus Christi

Project Name:

Gulf Coast Environmental Education Program

Category:

Youth/Education

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

19.375

 

The Gulf Coast Environmental Education Program is a multi-faceted project designed to educate a large number of diverse individuals on the uniqueness and fragility of coastal wetlands.  The project was initiated by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and is currently funded (2002-2004) by the E.P.A.  The program consists of five components that serve distinctly different populations.

  • Classroom Field Experiences:  Over 1000 students and 84 teachers participated in the 03-04 teacher/student classroom field experiences.
  • Summer Kayak Camps:  Over 116 students participated in the 2003 summer Kayak Camp program.  (summer 2004 Kayak Camp is presently being planned)
  • Community Events:  Approximately eight tons of trash were collected at four events and more than 1,200 individuals participated in the four beach clean up events.  Additionally, more than 2,000 people participated in environmental community festival events.

 

 

 

  • Teacher Workshops:  In June of 2003 TAMU-CC conducted two environmental education programs for area teachers in conjunction with the Department of Education’s Teaching Environmental Science I and II summer courses.  Primary and secondary teachers received in-depth instructions, field activities, site visits, and guest speaker presentations throughout this graduate level course designed to assist them in teaching local students about their local and global environmental community.  Thirty teachers participated in the 03 teacher workshops. (two additional workshops are planned for 04.)
  • Winter Texan/Senior Programs:  The Seniors’ or “Winter Texan” Program provides a one-day general overview of the Coastal Bend’s ecology and relevant environmental issues and concerns.  The trips involve a “round the bay” bus trip with stops at representative sites.  Physically able participants are invited to explore one of the local wetlands for a “hands-on” view of the working system.  More than 260 individuals participated in the winter 03 and 04  Winter Texan/Senior Programs.

 

 

3rd Place

Project #:

GG-04-24                                                                                         FL

Company:

Harllee Middle School

Project Name:

Science is Cool After School

Category:

Youth/Education

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

18.250

 

Harllee Middle School’s “Science is Cool After School” Program of the Boys and Girls Club of Manatee County is funded through several Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program Grants.  Students in the Program built and deployed 191 reef balls into North Sarasota Bay.  They plan to build 900 more reef balls for Manatee County’s Environmental Management project, “Under the Dock” Program.  In addition to building and deploying reef balls, the students created estuarine habitats in school classrooms, conducted field trips to marine and coastal habitats, became SCUBA certified, and created a reef maintenance team called, “Reef Rakers.”

 

The goal of the “Science is Cool After School” Program is to give students a chance to make a positive contribution to the community and help them see how science is used  daily.  The program began with hands-on projects like cleaning up State parks, helping with Keep Manatee Beautiful, and general habitat clean ups. Through the program, students have assisted with local beach clean ups for the past five years.  The program also helps with nearly 10 park clean ups and habitat restoration projects each year.  The program has grown to about 50 students and has branched out to work with approximately 200 students from the Boys and Girls Club of Manatee County.  The program’s coordinator and many of his students developed a television program to help students learn about water conservation, habitat loss, reef ball building, and many of the subjects that affect the local ecosystems.  The television show reaches about 7,500 people each month.  To date, the “Science is Cool After School” program has provided about 2,500 hours to various environmental organizations, and is constantly seeking funding to create more learning opportunities for students. 


Partnership Category

 

1st Place

Project #:

GG-04-29                                                                                         FL

Company:

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Project Name:

Project Greenshores

Category:

Partnerships

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

21.714

 

Project GreenShores is a community-supported oyster, saltmarsh and seagrass habitat restoration project developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, ERSO, Inc. and local partners to replace estuarine habitat destroyed decades ago.  Located along Bayfront Parkway in Pensacola, Florida, it is highly visible to the public. Originally planned as a small shoreline habitat demonstration project, GreenShores attracted the attention of many partners and volunteers and grew to a substantial restoration project.  Site I, completed in the fall of 2003, provides 15 acres of restored habitat.  Site II, an additional 25 acres, is in the planning and fundraising stages.

 

The primary objective of Project GreenShores is to create a highly visible, accessible, habitat-rich, educational shoreline restoration project to serve as a restoration model for other disturbed estuarine shorelines.  Project GreenShores was constructed by installing over 20,000 tons of limestone rock and clean broken concrete in mounds to create a protective reef approximately 2,000 feet long by about 75 feet wide, resulting in an approximately 3.4-acre oyster reef habitat.  Approximately 16 tons of live oysters were moved from the shoreline to the rock mounds, which resulted in large numbers of new oyster spat and barnacles on the rocks.  Approximately 35,000 cubic yards of clean sand was pumped between the rock and shoreline to create five individual intertidal areas to approximate the original water depths.  About 35,000 Spartina alterniflora, smooth cordgrass plants, were planted on the intertidal areas.  Ruppia maritima, widgeon grass, is being planted between these areas to create a 12-acre saltmarsh and seagrass habitat.  An unexpected benefit has been an increase in the numbers and diversity of birds, and the project was recently designated as part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

 

 

2nd Place

Project #:

GG-04-28                                                                                            TX

Company:

Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi

Project Name:

Oil & Oily Bilgewater Recovery Units

Category:

Partnerships

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

20.75

 

This project is the development, design, funding, construction, installation, and operation of six Oil and Oily Bilgewater Recovery Units in the Coastal Bend Region of Texas.  It started in November, 2000 with a request from the City of Aransas Pass for assistance with an oil spill problem in Conn Brown Harbor.  There was a major problem with discharges of waste engine oil and oily bilgewater from shrimp boats and other craft.  Over the next three years a partnership was built, a solution developed, funding obtained, and units were constructed and placed in service.  The Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office (TGLO) both agreed that there was a problem with numerous releases and spills in Conn Brown Harbor.  The solution would be to have a place for boats to pump out their waste oil and oily bilgewater.  Unfortunately, there was no site or funding for a facility.  Jim Needham worked with the Coast Guard and the Land Office to build a group of stakeholders dedicated to finding a workable solution.  Meetings were held with the group and with individual partners to determine each partner’s needs and concerns.  There were several obstacles including no place to construct a public facility, boat operators who did not want to go to a separate facility to pump out, and a lack of funding.  The solution to the first two obstacles came with the idea to make a “portable,” skid-mounted, recovery-only unit that could be placed on private property, specifically the fuel docks where boat operators buy their fuel, oil, and ice.  This would encourage boat operators to pump their bilges and dispose of their waste oil while they loaded fuel and other supplies.  Other harbors and marinas asked to be included in the project.   All of the stakeholders agreed to key conditions of the project and to share in project tasks.  TAMU-CC obtained and installed the units, facility owners maintained and operated the units, and the TGLO removed and recycled the waste from the units.

 

Once the partnership was finalized and the design developed, Jim Needham wrote a series of grants to obtain funding for the units.   Grants totaling $185,850.00 were obtained from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, the Coastal Management Program, and the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program.  During 2003, the design was finalized and the procurement process completed.  The first of their kind units were installed during October and November 2003.  Each unit consisted of a skid equipped with a double-wall 2,000 gallon bilgewater tank, a double-wall 300 gallon waste oil tank, and corresponding pumps and hoses.  Six units were constructed and are located at Conn Brown Harbor, Corpus Christi Marina, Port Aransas Marina, and Fulton Harbor.  Partners include TAMU-CC, TGLO Oil Spill Division, U.S. Coast Guard, City of Corpus Christi, City of Port Aransas, Aransas County Navigation District, Gulf King Seafood Company, JBS Seafood Company, and Odessa Pump Company.  These partners operate and maintain the units, and provide the removal, treatment, and recycling of recovered materials at no charge.   Since the beginning of 2004, when the units were activated, 20,587 gallons of oily bilgewater and 1,221 gallons of waste engine oil have been recovered and recycled.

 

3rd Place

Project #:

GG-04-33

Company:

America’s Wetland Foundation

Project Name:

America’s Wetland:  Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana

Category:

Partnerships

Project Type:

20.5

Average Rating:

 

 

The State of Louisiana has an impending environmental crisis that could have economic and ecological ramifications across the country and the world.

  • Louisiana is losing 25-35 square miles of coastal wetlands per year,
  • Few people within Louisiana, and even fewer nationwide, were aware of the problem and its possible economic and ecological impact

 

In order to raise public awareness of the impact Louisiana’s wetland loss has on the state, nation and world and gain support for efforts to conserve and save coastal Louisiana, the state launched America’s WETLAND: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana.

 

The research phase of campaign development, which included stakeholder interviews and focus groups in Louisiana and Pennsylvania, began in February 2002 and continued through May.  It assessed the awareness of key audiences about the threats to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands and the development of compelling messages to reach those audiences. 

 

Results indicated few people could describe the problem.  However, research also revealed that coastal Louisiana is an area of world ecological and economic significance where preservation and productivity coexist. 

 

Based on these results, the America’s WETLAND campaign was designed to raise awareness and gain support for coastal restoration by focusing on two primary themes -- economic and energy security and world ecological significance.  It was launched in August of 2002 by then-Governor M.J. “Mike” Foster at the annual meeting of the Southern Governors’ Association.

 

The campaign focused on five main objectives:

§         Design a powerful, consistent and effective identity and brand, along with images and core messages to define the problem and the impact of the loss of Louisiana’s wetlands

§         Create outreach opportunities and utilize comprehensive print and electronic media strategies to educate the public and engender campaign support

§         Develop a strong and active “Cooperating Organizations” network to support message dissemination

§         Build an educational infrastructure that engages both youth and adults

§         Develop funding opportunities to support the campaign and long-term restoration activities

 

A statewide poll revealed that 84 percent of Louisiana residents are now aware of coastal land loss and 71 percent are aware of the America’s WETLAND campaign.  The campaign and the issue were mentioned in 387 reported media hits with a total circulation of more than 27 million in 21 states.  Coverage included outlets such as CNN Headline News, ABC News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Los Angeles Times and helped the campaign reach a national audience. The AW website received more than 700,000 “hits” during 2003 and facilitated the creation of an electronic e-mail list with more than 1,000 contacts.
Business Category

 

1st Place

Project #:

GG-04-23                                                                                   LA

Company:

ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery

Project Name:

Voluntary Nitrate Emission Reducation

Category:

Business

Project Type:

Nutrient Enrichment

Average Rating:

18.625

 

Summary:  At the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery, nitrate emissions from the refinery to the Mississippi River were voluntarily reduced by two thirds from 4.51 million pounds/year in 1999 to 1.47 million pounds/year in 2003. Further reduction to 1.15 million pounds/year is projected for 2004. ExxonMobil’s management team established this voluntary reduction objective and supported it through a five-year effort that included an extensive engineering analysis. Process operations were modified to run two ammonia strippers in parallel. Additionally, an innovative method of operating the refinery waste water treatment facility under anoxic conditions, previously believed to be infeasible, was implemented. This reduction effort was entirely voluntary and was achieved without capital expenditure.

 

Description:  The ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery processes nearly 500,000 barrels of crude oil daily on a 1,000-acre site in the northern part of East Baton Rouge Parish. A biological water treatment plant with a capacity of 14 million gallons/day discharges effluent to the Mississippi River under an NPDES Permit.

 

After nitrates were added to the national Toxic Release Inventory in 1995, the nitrate content of this effluent (4.51 million pounds per year) was identified as the largest component of the Baton Rouge Refinery's TRI emissions. Effluent nitrates are created when elemental nitrogen from the refinery process finds its way to water effluent, usually as ammonia. When these streams are oxygenated in the water treatment plant, nitrates form and are discharged. Management established a voluntary objective to reduce these nitrate emissions.

ExxonMobil Research & Engineering, the corporation's central engineering branch, conducted an extensive engineering study of plant operations. The study addressed sources of nitrogen entering the refinery, operations that could recover nitrogen from water and redirect it back into the process, and water treatment methods that could convert nitrates back into elemental nitrogen.

Nitrogen enters the refinery from several sources, largely contained in crude oil. In processing the crude oil, nitrogen is converted to ammonia that can concentrate in water streams. Units called ammonia strippers capture ammonia from the water and return it to the crude oil process. Beginning in 2000 larger quantities of steam were injected into the stripping process to recover greater amounts of ammonia. This resulted in a reduction to 3.55 million pounds/year in 2000, a reduction of 21percent  from 1999.

 

Study of the refinery ammonia strippers identified a way to modify the operation so that two strippers can run simultaneously instead of two strippers operating in alternate periods. The parallel operating method was tested and evaluated, with results showing that the change would almost double the ability of the strippers to remove ammonia from waste water and carry it back into the refining process. The modified stripper operation was established as routine in May 2002.

Process engineers studied the operation of the biological treatment plant, particularly the aerators that inject oxygen into the wastewater to ensure high dissolved oxygen levels. Previously it was believed that shutting down aerators to reduce oxygen levels (and thereby reduce nitrates) could lead to incomplete removal of organic wastes and increased production of ammonia. However an extensive program of laboratory and in-plant testing showed that turning off aerators in specific patterns would cause denitrification. This desirable reaction causes nitrogen (which would otherwise form ammonia or nitrate) to be converted to nitrogen gas. Nitrogen gas is an inert, harmless element that makes up about 80% of the air that we breathe. An innovative method was devised to operate different sets of aerators in combination while controlling dissolved oxygen at lower levels than previously thought feasible. Operators were trained in the new methods, and the new dissolved oxygen levels were set as routine targets for evaluation during 2002.

 

As a result of the parallel stripper operation and modified aerator operation, nitrate emissions were reduced to 1.51 million pounds in 2002. This performance was maintained in 2003, with emissions of 1.47 million pounds -- a reduction of 3.04 million pounds/year or 67 percent less than in 1999. Emissions in 2004 have been 1.15 million pounds/year, a reduction of 75 percent from 1999.  This establishes that the reductions are both substantial -- a projected reduction of 3.4 million pounds/year -- and sustainable over long periods. This entire reduction translates directly to reduced nutrient loading to the Mississippi River and to the Gulf of Mexico regions offshore of Louisiana and Mississippi.

 

2nd Place

Project #:

GG-04-15                                                                                      LA

Company:

Tech Oil Products, Inc.

Project Name:

Recycle the Gulf

Category:

Business

Project Type:

Habitat and Public Health

Average Rating:

17.75

 

Summary:  Offshore waste recycling projects were attempted in the past by many different companies with varying results, but most were ineffective or abandoned.  Tech Oil Products was part of an unsuccessful large scale effort in the early 1990’s that tried to make recycling a permanent practice offshore.  For offshore recycling to be accepted and practiced, a new, innovative, and rewarding concept was needed.  A “Win-Win-Win” formula was devised by Tech Oil Products that provided a means to reduce and separate the volume on offshore locations, have a deposit bin onshore, provide transportation to a central location, collect, grade, and account for the volume received.  Recyclable material was given to charities for resale as income.  With Tech Oil’s new process, the company image and its employee’s win, the environment wins by everyone doing the right thing, and the community wins by helping out those in need.

 

Description:  What could make recycling work after 12 years of starting and stopping?  The management of Tech Oil Products realized that a new approach was needed, as they had been involved in two attempts to make this idea a viable concept for offshore operations.

 

What were the problems in early recycling?  The concept of recycling was once thought to be profitable.  In reality, recyclable material does not pay for the high cost of transportation on land, much less offshore.   Today municipalities have a tax in place to cover the cost of pickup and separation.  A paradigm shift was necessary so that offshore operators understood that not only would their recycling efforts not be profitable, but the efforts would also cost quite a bit if expected to be successful.  Therefore, a long-term commitment was needed that would survive personnel changes.  Major oil companies rotate personnel to new positions in management about every two to three years, new cost-cutting management could end the recycling program all together.  Therefore, a long-term agreement was required to spread the cost over a longer period, providing for an “acceptable” daily cost.

 

Tech Oil established a central recycling facility in New Iberia, Louisiana.  The goal was to recycle rig and platform waste generated offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.  The challenge was to devise a workable plan that both the CEO of a major oil company and the cook on a drilling rig could implement and accept.

 

The goals were lofty: first, there needed to be a long term commitment from the highest authority in the company to pay for recycling.  Second, there must be a company willing to take on the whole endeavor, from building the equipment necessary to reducing the volume of waste offshore, having bins available at each dock site, picking up and transporting waste to recycling centers, checking, grading, and delivering the recyclables to a non-profit organization for them to sell, and employing the handicapped.  Tech Oil Products took on this commitment and is currently servicing 23 offshore locations.

 

Today, if you count the people on the rigs and platforms, there are approximately 1,400 participants.  If you consider that every week, another crew takes over, the number is doubled.  ARC of Iberia employs more than 200 people, of which 20 are dedicated solely to the Recycling Program. Under the “Recycle the Gulf” program, 626,440 pounds of cardboard, tin, plastic, aluminum, and paper have been collected.  The environmental impact of this effort is enormous.

 

3rd Place

Project #:

GG-04-06                                                                                           LA

Company:

Shell Pipeline Company LP  -- Gulf of Mexico Region

Project Name:

Shell Pipeline and Louisiana Wetlands Loss

Category:

Business

Project Type:

Habitat and Public Health

Average Rating:

17.125

 

Summary:  Shell Pipeline Company transports crude oil through Louisiana’s sensitive coastal estuary. The South Louisiana region continues to be devastated by coastal erosion, the highest amount of continual land loss in the United States. Over 35 square miles, or approximately one football field of land, is lost every 30 minutes.  This wetlands loss devastates the environment, estuaries, wildlife, fisheries, residents, lifestyles, businesses, and economy.  The land loss also uncovers, exposes, and compromises the integrity of Shell Pipeline’s infrastructure. These factors prompted the company to take a proactive stance to save South Louisiana’s productive wetlands.

 

Description:  By getting involved in the effort to save Louisiana wetlands, Shell Pipeline and its employees are protecting their communities, the environment, and the company’s infrastructure. During 2003, Shell Pipeline has been instrumental in bringing this issue and its importance to the forefront of the industry.

 

Employees have been specifically involved in Louisiana’s coastal land loss issue since 2001 and have been working with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (NEP) since 1998. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the NEP, Shell Pipeline was the first company of any oil and gas companies to become actively involved in the issue, stating, “Shell Pipeline Company is a model for the entire hydrocarbon industry to follow.”

 

Shell funded the “Americas Wetland” coastal erosion initiative with a $3 million donation to the state of Louisiana.  Its employees delivered the coastal Louisiana land loss crisis to a national and international audience through keynote presentations at the Clean Gulf Conference in Galveston, Texas, the International Oil Spill Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia and more than 20 events throughout Louisiana.  America’s Wetland” materials were distributed at each event.  

 

Shell Pipeline has a Community Council that was developed to design and implement new processes and techniques to educate the community about pipelines and pipeline safety.  Coastal erosion messages were incorporated into the education action plan objectives.

 

 


Civic/Nonprofit Organization

 

1st Place

Project #:

GG-04-34                                                                                     TX

Company:

Gulf of Mexico Foundation

Project Name:

Gulf of Mexico Foundation

Category:

Civic/Nonprofit Organization

Project Type:

Habitat, Nonindigenous Species, Nutrient Enrichment

Average Rating:

20.143

 

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a nonprofit corporation based in Corpus Christi, Texas, was founded in 1990 by citizens concerned with the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico. Representing a wide range of interests -- agriculture, business, fisheries, industry, tourism, and the environment -- the Foundation works to promote and fund research, education, and conservation programs.  The Gulf of Mexico Foundation (GMF) secures funding and technical expertise to support marine projects ranging from restoration to education and research.

 

Restoration - http://gulfmex.org/restoration.htm

The restoration component of the Foundation is accomplished through administering a multi-year grant provided by NOAA and the EPA’s Gulf of Mexico Program called the Community-based Restoration Program (CRP). Since 2001, the GMF has administered a total of 19 CRP projects resulting in hundreds of acres being restored throughout the five Gulf States. Each project included a strong community element, involving volunteers to do much of the hands-on restoration. A list of the GMF CRP projects is available on the Foundation’s website.

 

Education - http://gulfmex.org/education.htm

The educational component of the Foundation is accomplished by providing financial support and leadership to the following programs:

 

1) Down Under Out Yonder – educating teachers about coral reef ecology through dive workshops held at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

2) Multicultural Education – bringing different cultures together through Science and Spanish Clubs for middle school students along the Texas coast.

3) National Ocean Sciences Bowl - encouraging students to excel in ocean studies through fun and competition.

4) Cyberways and Waterways –conserving waterways through online and field-study learning programs that encourage students and teachers to protect and improve their environment .

 

 

2nd Place

Project #:

GG-04-09                                                                                    FL

Company:

Tampa Bay Watch, Inc.

Project Name:

MacDill Air Force Base Oyster Reef Dome Project

Category:

Civic/Nonprofit Organizations

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

19.375

 

Tampa Bay Watch, in cooperation with MacDill Air Force Base and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, constructed an environmentally friendly shoreline restoration project designed to reduce erosion and promote new habitats in Tampa Bay, Florida.  Members installed 910 marine friendly, concrete oyster domes; 28 tons of clean washed three-inch oyster shell, and 5,000 salt marsh grasses on the southeastern coast of Mac Dill AFB.  This partnership with the military, federal wildlife agencies, local schools and the Tampa Bay Watch non-profit organization provided the framework to accomplish one of the most innovative shoreline stabilization and restoration projects in Florida

 

In the past 100 years, the Gulf of Mexico has suffered tremendous development pressures. Over the same time period, Tampa Bay has lost of more than 80 percent of subtidal seagrass beds and 44 percent of intertidal salt marsh and mangrove forests.  During the 1940’s and 50’s Florida as a whole experienced massive dredging and filling activities before becoming aware of the ultimate loss to natural resources and recreational and commercial fisheries.  It was common practice to dredge out large shorelines of the bay and pile the material behind seawalls to gain additional waterfront property for commercial, port, and residential development.  In Boca Ciega Bay, a sub bay of Tampa Bay, the surface area of the bay has been reduced by 29 percent due to dredging and filling for residential development alone.  The City of St. Petersburg has more than 288 miles of hardened shoreline, providing little or no habitat value back to Tampa Bay. 

 

MacDill AFB’s eastern shore is under great stress due to wave erosion.  The loss of shoreline is caused by increasing ship traffic into Tampa Bay, and the storms that build across the large open water area.  The coastal shoreline contains large black mangroves, palms, and 100-year-old oaks that are routinely lost.  The severe erosion is also cutting into the MacDill AFB golf course, providing greater urgency to protect a major recreational facility. This shoreline is recognized as a Native American burial site and its archeological value should be preserved using natural techniques.

 

The total project area is approximately one milelong along the southeastern shoreline of the Base.  The first pilot program was accomplished in the spring of 2004 along 800 feet of shallow water shoreline that is now protected with 910 reef domes and 28 tons of loose oyster shell. Reef domes are half-round in shape and are made from marine friendly concrete, using a fiberglass mold manufactured by Reef Innovations, Inc., of Sarasota, Florida. Reef domes are submerged at high tide and exposed during low tide. Reef domes create habitat by encouraging oysters and other filter feeders to attach.  Once established, the oyster communities support water quality benefits by filtering the water, provide habitat for small organisms, promote storm protection and create foraging and sanctuary areas for many species of fish and wildlife. Shell bags consisting of fossilized mined oyster shell inside of a plastic mesh bag are placed in two sections 100 feet in length.

 

Learning Gate Community Middle School students revegetated the first 800 feet of shoreline with 5,000 smooth cordgrass salt marsh plants.  The salt marsh is grown at on-campus nurseries as a part of the Tampa Bay Watch Bay Grasses in Classes program.  This hands-on learning experience provides an opportunity for Learning Gate students to culture salt marsh grass at their school and then transplants the mature planting units into bay restoration projects to further stabilize shoreline areas and promote coastal habitat restoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIE   3rd Place

Project #:

GG-04-20                                                                                  AL

Company:

Weeks Bay Reserve Foundation

Project Name:

Weeks Bay Project

Category:

Civic/Nonprofit Organization

Project Type:

Habitat, Nutrient Enrichment, and Nonindigenous Species

Average Rating:

17.750

 

The Weeks Bay Project is the land acquisition project of the Weeks Bay Reserve Foundation.  The Foundation is the 501c3 friends group of the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The Foundation’s main objective is to protect the natural resources in the Weeks Bay watershed through land donations and outright purchase of property.  The Foundation was formed in 1990 as a 501 c3. They have protected close to 1,000 acres of coastal property since that time.  The Foundation has also provided technical assistance with the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in their acquisition of all 6,000 acres of the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The Weeks Bay Project is similar to a land trust in that the ultimate goal is for the State of Alabama to be able to acquire the property and include the property in the Weeks Bay Reserve’s Boundaries.  This partnership between the state and the foundation has led to completing successful milestones in the Weeks Bay Reserve Management plan.  These properties were identified in the management plan, purchased by the foundation and transferred to the Reserve, as land acquisition funds became available.  These Reserve Land acquisitions would not have been possible without the Foundation’s assistance.

 

TIE   3rd Place

Project #:

GG-04-25                                                                                 LA

Company:

Lacombe Heritage Center

Project Name:

Adopt A Spot:  Learn-Work-Play

Category:

Civic Nonprofit Organization

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

17.750

 

Project "Adopt A Spot: Learn-Work-Play” started in 1999 using litter abatement funds from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.  The Lacombe Heritage Center, through its environmental divisions, the St. Tammany Environmental Patrol, and Lacombe Environmental Action Project, organized, educated, and employed Slidell High School students as recruits in its Junior Ranger Corps to clean up and restore areas in the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.  For decades the refuge had been used for illegal dumping.  The project provided in-classroom instruction and hands-on field operations.  It also designed and installed a Bee, Bug, Bat, Bird and Butterfly bog Garden and Environmental Learning Center at Slidell High School as a prototype for continuing wetland restoration installations at other schools.
Individual Category

 

1st Place

Project #:

GG-04-21                                                                              LA

Company:

Barry Guillot

Project Name:

N/A

Category:

Individual

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

21.125

 

In 1998, Barry Guilllot, a seventh-grade science teacher, worked with his students to create the LaBranche Wetland Watchers project. Guillot is the backbone behind this nationally recognized school-based service-learning project that enables more than 1,000 students each year to meet required academic standards through activities that also benefit the environment. His students have spoken to more than 40,000 Louisiana residents.  To ensure success and funding, Guillot writes grants, gains and maintains partnerships, and coordinates and attends a multitude of functions. Without Guillot, there would be no Wetland Watchers project. Guillot’s project is one of the finest examples of outdoor education anywhere.  The primary objective of Guillot’s LaBranche Wetland Watchers Project is to encourage wetland conservation through Education, Service, and Awareness.

 

 

2nd Place

Project #:

GG-04-19                                                                                        TX

Company:

Allex & Associates International Realtors

Project Name:

James R. Matz

Category:

Individual

Project Type:

Public Health and Nonindigenous Species

Average Rating:

20.875

 

For 15 years James Matz has worked tirelessly to provide leadership to promote environmental education and projects which impact public health and improve the Gulf of Mexico.  His innovative approach to mobilizing thousands of volunteers in a cooperative bicultural environment on both sides of the Rio Grande near the Gulf of Mexico, through the Valley Proud Environmental Council (VPEC) and other organizations, has had a beneficial impact on this rapidly developing coastal area.  He has earned numerous awards including the President’s National Service Award,  Southern Community Forest Service "Changing the Southern Landscape" (13 states) award, and  the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Environmental Excellence Award in the individual category.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3rd Place

Project #:

GG-04-14                                                                                         LA

Company:

USGS, National Wetlands Research Center

Project Name:

Robert E. Stewart, Jr.

Category:

Individual

Project Type:

N/A

Average Rating:

19.125

 

Dr. Robert E. Stewart has devoted his entire career to improving our understanding of the natural world with a single purpose --- to support wetland conservation.  His scientific and leadership contributions during the past 30 years have particularly and dramatically advanced coastal wetland protection in the Gulf Coast region. When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to construct a National Wetlands Research Center in 1989, Dr. Stewart fought hard to get it located on the Gulf Coast where most wetland losses occur. Through his efforts and those in Congress he enlisted for support, the 75,000-foot National Wetlands Research Center was built in Lafayette, Louisiana.  From this central-Gulf location, Dr. Stewart and his team have supported wetland inventory, monitoring, and research in every Gulf Coast state.  Between the time the Center opened in 1992 and the spring of 2004, Dr. Stewart doubled its staff and established research stations in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  Now part of the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Wetlands Research Center has emerged as the pre-eminent U.S. institution of wetland science because of its productivity, innovation, and impact under Dr. Stewart’s vision and leadership.

 


Government Category

 

1st Place

Project #:

GG-04-10                                                                                           TX

Company:

Port of Houston Authority

Project Name:

Stormwater Pollution Cleanup Program – “Mighty Tidy”

Category:

Government

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

18.875

 

In June 2003, the Port of Houston Authority, the Harris County Supplemental Environmental Program, the Harris County Flood Control District, and the nonprofit group Buffalo Bayou Partnership, launched the largest stormwater pollution cleanup program in Harris County, Texas history. By providing substantial initial and continuing operations funding and in-kind services for the skimmer boat Mighty Tidy, there is now a massive and continuing cleanup of floatable pollution from the watersheds serving more than 400 square miles that empty into the Port of Houston and flow south to the significant national estuary of Galveston Bay and then into the Gulf.  This project is helping restore Buffalo Bayou to an ecologically functional system. Fish and other wildlife no longer suffer the effects from eating debris or getting caught up in and then dying in floating trash flushed from Houston area streets. Beyond the dramatic visual improvement of three major bayous and the port, the water quality is improving without the toxicity created during the breakdown of floating debris. Natural habitat along Buffalo Bayou and Galveston Bay stretching to the Gulf is no longer contaminated by floating trash.  More than 1,000 cubic yards of floatable litter have been collected to date -- nearly double the anticipated amount.  An unexpected result is the overwhelmingly positive visibility achieved through a launch media event with more than 250 attendees, a “Name The Skimmer” contest at area schools for the winning Mighty Tidy name, and a visually bold (pink) and unforgettable vessel resulting in regular, very positive media and public attention on the issue of floatable pollution.

 

2nd Place

Project #:

GG-04-03                                                                                       MS

Company:

Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission

Project Name:

Derelict Trap Programs in the Southeast Region

Category:

Government

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

18.125

 

Each year thousands of crab traps are lost or abandoned in the Gulf of Mexico.  This program was initiated to recover the thousands of derelict traps that litter Gulf of Mexico estuaries, thus restoring critical nursery habitat and reducing bycatch mortality.  The goal was to assist and support a local-state-federal cooperative program for recovery of derelict traps in the Gulf.  The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission worked in cooperation with the state marine resource agencies in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to remove derelict traps from their estuaries.  The program began July 1, 2021 and continues through June 30, 2004.  Derelict crab traps result from numerous sources:  weather or hydrological factors (tides, currents, or storm surges); senescence of buoys, lines, or knots; failure to assemble and maintain buoys and buoy lines properly; unintentional cutting of buoy lines by vessel propellers; and intentional cutting of buoy lines by vandals.  Even after fishermen lose or abandon traps, these traps continue to catch fish, crustaceans, turtles, and other organisms.  The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have identified derelict crab traps as a source of non-directed fishing mortality for marine organisms and a source of conflict among commercial and recreational water users.

 

Studies have shown that each derelict trap kills an average of 26 blue crabs per year until it deteriorates.  Along with blue crabs, other animals like stone crabs, red drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, mullet, raccoons, and opossums are trapped and killed in traps.  Additionally, ghost fishing by traps is a major threat to diamondback terrapins, a species currently being considered for Endangered Species status.  Removing these traps also protects submerged seagrasses from the smothering effects these traps can cause.  Removing derelict traps will reduce mortality of susceptible organisms, alleviate user group conflicts, and reduce visual pollution of our waters.

 

The four state programs removed a total of 11,478 derelict traps during their 2004 clean ups.  Public participation was crucial to the success of the removal programs.  The states did a commendable job in organizing the removals and gathering volunteers to participate in the removals.  More than 100 community groups and 750 volunteers from diverse backgrounds participated in removal efforts and made the removal programs successful.  The removal of 11,478 derelict traps represents a major step toward removing the thousands of derelict traps that litter Gulf of Mexico estuaries and mitigating their impact on fish, crabs, and other organisms and restoring critical estuarine habitat.

 

3rd Place

Project #:

GG-04-18                                                                                         TX

Company:

Texas Department of Transportation

Project Name:

U.S. 181 Phase III Project

Category:

Government

Project Type:

Habitat

Average Rating:

16.75

 

TxDOT initiated a project in the 1980’s to improve an 11 mile section of U.S. 181.  This facility serves as a primary evacuation route in times of hurricanes or other disasters for the Corpus Christi area.  One of the last phases to be constructed is a 2.3 mile stretch from the north end of the Nueces Bay Causeway to Portland, Texas.  To both the north and south of this 2.3 mile stretch, U.S. 181 was previously upgraded.  This section, if allowed to remain, would be a bottleneck to increased traffic volumes on a daily basis as well as during times of evacuation. Since the 1988 FONSI several changes occurred in the project area that caused the approved design to be reevaluated. 

  • Proposed designation of critical habitat for the wintering piping plover on the east side of US 181 (Sunset Lake)
  • Development that was anticipated along this 2.3 mile stretch did not occur
  • Transfer of ownership of Sunset Lake from private to public interest (City of Portland).

 

TxDOT made a decision to minimize the footprint of the project.  The project was redesigned by providing frontage roads only where needed, designing for urban/suburban frontage roads with a smaller footprint instead of rural frontage roads with a wider footprint in areas where frontage roads were provided, and eliminating the midpoint overpass.  These design changes allowed TxDOT to avoid critical habitat, reduce the acreage of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdictional impacts from over 22 acres to approximately two acres, avoid formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the project received a “not likely to adversely effect” on the proposed critical habitat designation.  

 

At the suggestion of resource agencies, mitigation for the two acres Corps jurisdictional areas could be accomplished by incorporating design features that discourage off road access to the critical habitat on the east side and wetlands on both sides of U.S. 181. TxDOT incorporated sections of retaining wall, traffic rail or concrete traffic barriers, and replaced a 30-inch pipe with three 5-foot by 4-foott box culverts to improve water circulation and shore bird habitat on the Sunset Lake side.