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BAYTOWN WINS FIRST PLACE GULF GUARDIAN AWARD

It's Time Graphic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2002

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss.
The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the city of Baytown, Texas, will receive a first place Gulf Guardian Award for 2002 in the Government Category. The award will be presented to representatives of Baytown at the Clean Gulf Conference scheduled for Nov. 5-7, in Galveston, Texas.

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. 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 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."

The citizens of Baytown have long recognized their unique relationship with the Gulf of Mexico, its bays and tributaries, said Pete C. Alfaro, Mayor of Baytown. Creative forethought and determination brought us the vision of a revitalized Goose Creek, the Baytown Nature Center, the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Education and Recreation Center and the Chandler Arboretum. Our progress was accomplished by the dedicated efforts of many volunteers from our community. These projects contribute to our community's awareness of our critical role in the restoration, protection, and preservation of our natural resources and educate the public about the importance of stewardship of the environment. We are honored by the recognition of the Gulf Guardian Award.

In 1990, the City of Baytown formed the Goose Creek Stream Development Committee, which aimed to restore one of the city's most neglected treasures. Over the years, Goose Creek, which feeds into one of Baytown's six bays, had been treated as a dumping ground. The committee envisioned a creek complete with trails and scenic overlooks. However, its vision soon expanded. Plans were put in place to revitalize the creek, restore a flood-devastated neighborhood to its natural wetland habitat, create a wetlands education and recreation center, and most recently, to develop an arboretum. These projects are ongoing.

Gulf of Mexico Program Office Director Jim Giattina said, The Gulf Guardian Award exemplifies what the Gulf of Mexico Program is all about innovative solutions that come about when we pool resources and look for creative ways to positively impact our quality of life and economic well-being. We are all one Gulf community and have only one Gulf of Mexico. Projects like these are helping to protect our local coastal waters, which significantly contributes to the Gulf's beauty and value, said Giattina.

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2002, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button on the left.

The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten 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.

Editor's Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call Terry Hines Smith at 228-688-1159. For more information about the Baytown Environmental Enhancement Program, call Scott Johnson at 281-420-6597.

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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