NOAA03-R937
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Aja Sae-Kung
10/6/03
NOAA News Releases 2003
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs

NOAA AWARDS $400,000 TO GULF OF MEXICO FOUNDATION
FOR HABITAT RESTORATION

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded a $400,000 grant to the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc. for habitat restoration in the five Gulf States.

“We are constantly working to improve the understanding of our environment and to strengthen regional initiatives, such as habitat restoration,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “With awards such as this, NOAA’s and the Bush Administration’s commitment to the Gulf of Mexico is reinforced through the combination of local knowledge, local stewardship, and technical support from NOAA Fisheries and the state ecological site managers.”

NOAA’s Community Based Restoration Program and the Gulf of Mexico Foundation have 11 projects underway in five Gulf states. These projects benefit ecologically sensitive marine, estuarine and riparian habitats. From opening up fish passage for sturgeon on the Pearl River to building a mangrove nursery at Bahia Grande, one of the largest restoration efforts in the country, these projects benefit living marine resources as well as foster local stewardship throughout the Gulf region. The Foundation will continue to work with the state Gulf of Mexico Program’s Gulf Ecological Management Sites (GEMS) managers and NOAA Fisheries staff to identify and implement habitat restoration projects under the partnership.

“These are exciting projects,” according to Dr. Quenton Dokken, Executive Director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation. “Working with NOAA’s Community Based Restoration Program and the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program has been very effective in rehabilitating degraded and lost habitats critical to the living resources of the Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf of Mexico community, these projects bring together two federal agencies, multiple state agencies, scores of private citizens, and private conservation organizations to leverage resources and work for the common good.”

The goal of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation is to ensure a sustainable quality of life for residents and visitors of the Gulf coast by promoting preservation and conservation through voluntary and cooperative stewardships. The EPA Gulf of Mexico Program has supported the partnership with expertise and $90,000 per year. Grants from NOAA and the Gulf of Mexico Program have been leveraged to nearly $2.5 million in habitat restoration efforts along Gulf shores.

NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program (CRP), a financial and technical assistance program within the NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation, promotes strong partnerships at the national, regional and local level to fund grassroots, community-based activities. The NOAA-funded projects provide strong on-the-ground habitat restoration components that offer educational and social benefits for people and their communities in addition to long-term ecological benefits for fishery resources.

In fiscal year 2003, NOAA has awarded more than 475 grants totaling more than $204 million to members of the academic, scientific and business communities to assist the agency in fulfilling its mission to study the Earth’s natural systems in order to predict environmental change, manage ocean resources, protect life and property, and provide decision makers with reliable scientific information. NOAA goals and programs reflect a commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation for the past 33 years.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit http://www.noaa.gov. More information about NOAA’s CRP can be found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration.

Additional information on the Community Based Restoration Program partnership and projects, including request for proposals, can also be found at the Foundation’s web site www.gulfmex.org/restoration.htm and the Gulf of Mexico Program’s web site www.epa.gov/reg4gmpo/welcome.html.

On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher: http://www.noaa.gov/lautenbacher.html

National Marine Fisheries Service: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/

NOAA Community-based Restoration Program: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration/index.html

NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/index.html