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North Deer Island Protection Project Receives Gulf Guardian Award

Release Date: 10/22/2008
Contact Information: Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the North Deer Island Protection Project in the West Bay of the Galveston Bay system of Texas will receive a first place Gulf Guardian Award for 2008 in the Partnership Category. The 2008 Gulf Guardian awards hold a special significance this year as they will be awarded in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Program’s 20th Anniversary Celebration! (1988-2008). The awards ceremony will be held on October 29, 2008 at approximately 6 p.m., at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, Versailles Ballroom in New Orleans, Louisiana.

North Deer is the most important colonial waterbird rookery island along the upper Texas coast. The north shoreline was previously subject to severe erosion from ship wake. The south shoreline was exposed to significant wind-induced erosion from prevailing winds, which threatened to degrade diverse interior marshes and upland areas protected by a narrow and eroding isthmus. In 2000, partners began an effort to protect the island from rapid erosion. Phase I was completed in 2003, protecting 4700 feet of shoreline along the southern half of the island. Project partners completed Phase II in 2008, protecting the critical north shoreline where much of the upland habitat for nesting lies, as well as protecting remaining exposed areas along the southeast shoreline. This diverse partnership succeeded in placing 24,100 tons of highly durable limestone of erosion control structures to protect nearly 2 miles of rapidly eroding shoreline. As a result of this effort, 20,000 birds of nineteen species, including the endangered Brown Pelican and threatened Reddish Egret and White-faced Ibis, are assured of nesting and foraging habitat for many years to come. Of equal importance, wetlands and seagrass beds protected and re-established through this project will support commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish species, and improve water quality.

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. A first, second, and third place award are given each year in seven categories individual, business, youth and education, nonprofit organizations, government, partnership and bi-national efforts.

“Gulf Guardian award winners represent the very best in efforts to ensure the Gulf of Mexico region remains a place where people, industry, and the environment can continue to thrive,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “Their accomplishments are making a positive difference for everyone, and EPA is pleased to recognize their environmental leadership.”

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. 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 and is proud to be celebrating 20 years of successful partnerships to protect the Gulf of Mexico.

Bryon Griffith, Director of the Gulf of Mexico Program said “After 9 years of conducting the Gulf Guardian Awards Program, I never cease to be amazed by the quality and depth of environmental accomplishments across the Gulf of Mexico region. The 2008 award winners will play an important part of the Gulf of Mexico Program's 20th anniversary celebration. (1988-2008) These special winners proudly illustrate for all of us what committed citizens, communities, governments, and businesses that share a common vision can do to improve, protect, and sustain our regional and national treasure, the Gulf of Mexico.”

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2008, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button.

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call the Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726 or visit our web site at