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EPA announces 2019 Gulf Guardian Winners from Biloxi, Mississippi

09/26/2019
Contact Information: 
James Pinkney (region4press@epa.gov)
(404) 562-9183 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

BILOXI, Miss. (Sept. 26, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Division announced the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, MS DMR and Allen Engineering and Science, and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain as Gulf Guardian award winners for projects that help improve water quality, habitat and environmental education in the gulf.

“Protecting the Gulf of Mexico requires innovative approaches and proactive measures,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “The Gulf Guardian award winners are paving the way for ‘out of the box’ thinking and replicable practices.”

“Plentiful marine resources, pristine beaches and economic vitality make the Gulf of Mexico a national treasure worthy of protection and preservation,” said Acting Gulf of Mexico Division Director Lakeshia Robertson. “The Gulf Guardian winners embody environmental stewardship. Their efforts are creating a healthy and resilient Gulf for residents and tourists alike.”

Mississippi Department of Marine Resources - 1st Place for its Celebrate the Gulf Marine Education Festival Project. Celebrate the Gulf Marine Education Festival, held annually in Pass Christian, Mississippi, collaborates with 70 organizations and more than 250 volunteers. These include federal and state departments, environmental groups, local businesses, artists, and small business owners. All collaborate to create one free family festival. The festival hosts more than 5,000 visitors from Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Alabama.

MS DMR and Allen Engineering and Science - 2nd Place for its Gulf Coast National Heritage Area Nature Based Tourism Plan for Coastal Mississippi. The 2016 Nature Based Tourism (NBT) Plan for Coastal Mississippi created a sustainable opportunity for tourism growth in the Gulf Coastal region, while offering incentives for residents to protect natural heritage and increase resilience. The plan establishes a 10-year strategy for the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area and serves as a model for a statewide nature-tourism strategy. Outcomes to date are marketing resources for NBT businesses, a Passport program, the Gulf Coast Outpost certification program and a Blueways design guide to increase natural recreation opportunities.

Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain - 3rd Place for its Training Program for Southern Mississippi Youth in Restoring Critical Habitat for Endangered Species. The Land Trust and its partners created the program to educate and inspire youth while significantly enhancing the environment. This project worked to improve land resources and habitat in Harrison County through forest restoration, environmental education and invasive-species control—all of which will have long-lasting benefits to the health of the gulf. The program aims to connect youth with the environment and give exposure to related career opportunities, which could lead to even greater benefits for the resiliency of the region.

The Gulf of Mexico Division initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. Awards were given in 2019 in five categories: Individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations and partnership.

The Gulf of Mexico Division is a non-regulatory program of EPA founded to facilitate collaborative actions to protect, maintain and restore the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico in ways consistent with the economic well-being of the region. To carry out its mission, the Gulf of Mexico Division continues to maintain and expand partnerships with state and federal agencies, federally recognized tribes, local governments and authorities, academia, regional business and industry, agricultural and environmental organizations, and individual citizens and communities.

For more information about the U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Division go to: https://www.epa.gov/gulfofmexico.

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