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Mississippi Gulf Guardian Award Winners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 18, 2002

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – Five Mississippi projects were awarded Gulf Guardian Awards recently at the annual awards ceremony held at the Clean Gulf 2002 Conference in Galveston, Texas.

First place in the individual category went to Dr. Sharon Walker, director of the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium in Biloxi, Miss. Dr. Walker was instrumental in developing the Project Marine Discovery Program for the purpose of providing students, teachers, and community members with opportunities to learn about the Gulf of Mexico and other marine and aquatic environments.

Bob Taylor, owner of Outback Steakhouse in Gulfport, Miss., took a second place award in the business category. Several years Taylor decided to become active in his community by promoting various environmental, educational and charitable endeavors. For the past six years, his Outback Steakhouse crew has been a key sponsor and member of the Mississippi Marine Debris Task Force. Mississippi’s cleanup is organized around a barbecue lunch that he provides free of charge to participants of the cleanup as a thank you for their efforts. On the average, he has rewarded between 1,500 and 2,500 cleanup participants with lunch each year. He also encourages his employees to adopt and clean a section of beach.

ChevronTexaco in Pascagoula, Miss., took a third place award in the youth and education category for their sponsorship for the Mississippi Envirothon. The Envirothon is part of a national program for high school students designed to educate and challenge young people in the environmental sciences. More than 350 students and teachers were involved in area competitions, as well as more than 100 professional resource people from various state agencies.

Also taking a third place award was Jayne Buttross in the individual category for her efforts with the Mississippi CIAP process. In October 2001, Congress created the Coastal Impact Assistance Program which allocated Mississippi $24,316,417 to spend on coastal ecology and to share between the state and the three coastal counties. The person leading the planning process for disbursement of this money was Jayne Buttross, Advisor to the Executive Director at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Qquality. More than 150 projects totaling $67 million were submitted for review. The final submission package to the Department of Commerce included 81 collaborative projects. From the $24.3 million allocated to Mississippi, a total value of $47,483.061 in collaborative projects is being funded.

The Center for Sustainable Design at Mississippi State University took a third place award in the partnership category for an experimental beach landscape implemented in Biloxi, Miss. The Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce along with the Landscape Architecture and Biological Engineering Departments from the Center worked together to transform a five-acre manmade beach devoid of plant materials into an attractive and functional natural beach landscape. The naturally evolving site now has a 90-foot long colony of emergent smooth cord grass along the water's edge, as well as 2,600 feet of sea oat plantings that are creating dunes modeled after dune formations on Horn Island. In addition to being more attractive, the naturalistic site attracts hordes of butterflies and birds. The plantings eliminated sand movement off the site onto Highway 90 and into the Mississippi Sound, which also eliminated the need to remove sand from the highway and medians. This should also delay or eliminate the need for beach re-nourishment every eight years, thus saving taxpayer dollars.

“The Gulf Guardian Awards take on special significance in 2002 as we celebrate 30 years since the passage of the Clean Water Act,” said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. “The efforts of those being recognized as Gulf Guardians are key to our success as we address water issues. These award winners accepted the challenge and have joined us as we restore and protect our nation’s waters for future generations."

“Three years ago the Gulf of Mexico Program developed the Gulf Guardian awards as a method of recognizing and honoring the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive,” said Bryon Griffith, deputy director of the Gulf of Mexico Program. “These award winners today exemplify the exceptional level of quality of effort being undertaken cooperatively by the public and private sectors to address critical issues that face Gulf coastal communities,” he added.

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. Award entries were received from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. A first, second, and third place award are given each year in six categories – individual, business, youth and education, nonprofit organizations, government, and partnership efforts.

The Gulf of Mexico Program is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

For more information about the Gulf Guardian call Terry Hines Smith at 228-688-1159. Photos (7) of the award winners accepting their awards and corresponding cutlines are below.

Terry Hines Smith, APR
Gulf of Mexico Program
Office of Public Affairs
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center MS 39529-6000
(228) 688-1159
Fax: (228) 688-2709
Email: hines-smith.terry@epa.gov
Web Site: http://www.epa.gov/gmpo

The mission of the Gulf of Mexico Program is to facilitate the protection and restoration of the coastal marine waters of the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal natural habitats; to sustain living resources; to protect human health and the food supply; and to ensure the recreational use of Gulf shores, beaches and waters in ways consistent with the economic well-being of the region, through a network of citizens and institutions.

MISSISSIPPI AWARD WINNERS

Dr. Sharon Walker
Dr. Sharon Walker, director of the J.L. Scott Marine Aquarium won a first place Gulf Guardian Award in the Individual category. She accepted her award at the Nov. 6 ceremony in Galveston, Texas, at the Clean Gulf Conference. Pictured from left to right are: Bryon Griffith, deputy director of the Gulf of Mexico Program and event host; Dr. Sharon Walker, award winner; and award presenter Eric Dear with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Bob Taylor, Owner of Outback Steakhouse
Bob Taylor, owner of the Outback Steakhouse in Gulfport, Miss., won a second place Gulf Guardian Award in the Business category. He accepted his award at the Nov. 6 ceremony in Galveston, Texas, at the Clean Gulf Conference. Pictured from left to right are: Bryon Griffith, deputy director of the Gulf of Mexico Program and event host; Bob Taylor, award winner; and award presenter Eric Dear with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Jayne Buttorss
Jayne Buttross of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality won a third place Gulf Guardian Award in the Individual category. She accepted her award at the Nov. 6 ceremony in Galveston, Texas, at the Clean Gulf Conference. Pictured from left to right are: Bryon Griffith, deputy director of the Gulf of Mexico Program and event host; Jayne Buttorss, award winner; and award presenter Eric Dear, also with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Mississippi State University’s Center for Sustainable Design
Pete Melby accepted a third place Gulf Guardian Award in the Partnership category on behalf of the Mississippi State University’s Center for Sustainable Design. He accepted the award at the Nov. 6 ceremony in Galveston, Texas, at the Clean Gulf Conference. Pictured from left to right are: Bryon Griffith, deputy director of the Gulf of Mexico Program and event host; Pete Melby, award winner; and award presenter Eric Dear with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Mississippi Envirothon
Lee Harbison accepted a third place Gulf Guardian Award in the Youth and Education category on behalf of ChevronTexaco, Pascagoula Refinery, for their sponsorship of the Mississippi Envirothon. He accepted the award at the Nov. 6 ceremony in Galveston, Texas, at the Clean Gulf Conference. Pictured from left to right are: Bryon Griffith, deputy director of the Gulf of Mexico Program and event host; Lee Harbison, award winner; and award presenter Eric Dear with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Group Shot of Mississippi Award Winners
Pictured from left to right are the Mississippi Gulf Guardian Award winners who accepted their awards at the 2002 Clean Gulf Conference held in Galveston, Texas, Nov. 6: Bryon Griffith, deputy director of the Gulf of Mexico Program and event host; Lee Harbison with ChevronTexaco; Dr. Sharon Walker with the J.L. Scott Marine Aquarium; Jayne Buttross with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality; Bob Taylor, owner of Outback Steakhouse in Gulfport, Miss.; Pete Melby with Mississippi State University’s Center for Sustainable Design; and Eric Dear, award presenter with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

NOTE: PHOTOS AT A HIGHER RESOLUTION ARE AVAILABLE

Gulf of Mexico Program Office
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
228-688-3726
FAX: 228-688-2709


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