NOAA 99-R416
Contact: Molly Bell


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced this year's recipients of the Walter B. Jones Memorial and NOAA Excellence Awards for Coastal and Ocean Resource Management. The awards honor excellence in unique coastal and ocean resource management programs, as well as in public and private endeavors to conserve America's coasts. Winners of these prestigious awards will be recognized on Oct. 21 in Washington, D.C.

"A chamber of commerce, three individuals, three state agencies, a non-governmental organization, a local government, and eight graduate students were selected for awards for their contributions to coastal stewardship and ocean resource management," said D. James Baker, NOAA administrator. "The judges had a tough time selecting the winners, but that's a good problem to have. The accomplishments of all the nominees were impressive, and the quality and quantity of work being done to protect and conserve our valuable, fragile coastal resources is exciting to see," he said.

The Walter B. Jones Memorial and NOAA Excellence Award winners demonstrate the positive impact public and private organizations and citizens can have on coastal and ocean problems. The winners were chosen from a pool of more than 60 qualified nominees by an independent panel of judges. The criteria for evaluation are based on innovative approaches in coastal zone management -- helping to maintain coasts and ocean resources and balance the needs of these resources with human use. The winners are:


Coastal Steward of the Year
Dr. George F. Crozier, Executive Director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Dauphin Island, Ala.

Excellence in Local Government
Cameron Parish Police Jury, Cameron Parish, La.

Excellence in Coastal and Marine Graduate Study
Tracy Hart, Takoma Park, Md., for her studies at the University of Maryland, Problem solving in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology program Daniel Hudgens, Boston, Mass., for studies at the Graduate Department of Environ- mental Coastal and Ocean Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Boston David H. Shull, Boston, Mass., for studies at the University of Massachusetts, Environmental, Coastal, and Ocean Sciences, Boston Catherine M. Wannamaker, Raleigh, N.C., for studies at the North Carolina Sea Grant/North Carolina State University David A. Hart, Madison, Wisc., for studies at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and Land Information and Computer Graphics Facility David Robinette, Fuquay-Varina, N.C., for studies at North Carolina State University, Chapel Hill Jill Fegley, Orono, Maine, for studies at the University of Maine Christopher Nietch, Columbia, S.C., for studies at the University of South Carolina


Volunteer of the Year
Les Hodgson, Brownsville, Texas

Non-Governmental Organization of the Year
The Galveston Bay Foundation, Galveston Texas

Excellence in Promoting Diversity in Coastal or Ocean Resource Management
Leonard Kapahulehua, Kihei, Hawaii.

Excellence in Business Leadership
Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, Houma La.

Excellence in Innovative Coastal Management
Three California state agencies that are partners in the state-federal interagency San Francisco Dredged Material Management Office (DMMO): The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission; the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board; and the California State Lands Commission

From dedicated individuals to entire communities, this year's honorees embody the hard work and dedication that are vital to solving our coastal problems. For example, the Coastal Steward of the Year, Dr. Crozier, has been involved in coastal issues for decades and is cited for the leadership skills and expertise he has contributed to a number of boards, foundations, and advisory committees that deal with the complex and often controversial coastal management issues. He consistently provides high-quality scientific data to decision makers who must maintain a balance among competing pressures and demands on sensitive, finite coastal resources. Dr. Crozier's
impact extends far beyond his home state of Alabama. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab, which he founded, is widely recognized for its work based on research sites from Mobile Bay to Antarctica.

Another example is this year's Volunteer of the Year, Les Hodgson, who is widely known and recognized in South Texas for his extensive work to protect endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles. Hodgson's volunteer work includes organizing community groups and establishing public education campaigns that help people avoid disturbing or harming turtles that nest along Gulf Coast beaches in Texas and Mexico. He works closely with Rancho Nuevo, a bi-national public-private sea turtle conservation effort that includes organizing volunteers to patrol beaches during turtle hatches, and he personally oversaw the overhaul and upgrading of a fleet of all-terrain vehicles crucial for conducting beach patrols in the region.

Congressman Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-N.C.) and Capt. Ted Lillestolen, NOAA Corps, NOAA's deputy assistant administrator for ocean services and coastal zone management, will preside over the awards ceremony. The memorial awards are named after Jones' father, the late Congressman Walter B. Jones. In 1990 the elder Jones, as chairman of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, granted NOAA the authority under the reauthorization of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) to honor people and organizations who dedicated countless hours and energy to preserving coastal and ocean resources.

The CZMA created the National Coastal Zone Management Program, a unique and voluntary partnership of federal and state governments, to provide a balance between land and water uses in coastal zones and conservation of fragile coastal resources. The CZMA also created the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, a national system of estuarine reserves that represent coastal and estuarine habitats and provide long-term research and education to improve coastal management decision-making.

Additional information about the awards program and this year's winners is posted on the World Wide Web at:

Note to editors/reporters: Media are invited to attend the awards ceremony in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building (room 345), ceremonies beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday Oct. 21, 1999. Winners and officials attending will be asked to make themselves available for interviews following the event.