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News Releases from Region 06

Galveston Bay Area Chapter-Texas Master Naturalist Wins Gulf Guardian Award

11/30/2017
Contact Information: 
Joe Hubbard and Jennah Durant at 214-665-2000 or r6rpess@epa.gov
DALLAS – (Nov. 30, 2017) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced the Galveston Bay Area Chapter-Texas Master Naturalist won the first-place 2017 Gulf Guardian Award in the Civic/Non-Profit Category. The group is being recognized for raising awareness of and cleaning up plastic pollution in the Galveston Bay area.  
 
Ben Scaggs, Director of Gulf of Mexico Program said, “Whether for individual recreational use or as an economic engine supporting a wide variety of jobs and industry, the Gulf of Mexico is a vibrant yet vulnerable ecosystem. Protecting this national resource requires innovative approaches and proactive measures. The Gulf Guardian award winners are paving the way for ‘out of the box’ thinking and replicable practices.”  
 
Galveston Bay Area Chapter (GBAC) members have monitored nesting sea turtles and shore birds for the last several years. Noticing increasing numbers of birds harmed or killed due to plastic litter, members realized plastic pollution needed to be removed and other organizations and the public needed to learn about the harm plastic litter was doing.  
 
In January 2016, the chapter committed to conducting cleanups and included plastic pollution education in all outreach activities. They held 12 cleanup events throughout the Galveston Bay area, removing over 3,500 pounds of plastic. They also hosted 178 education events with direct contact to 3,250 community participants, to promote awareness and shift behavior to proper disposal of plastic. The aforementioned events included activities at local schools, beach and bay explorations at Galveston Island State Park, sea turtle tours at NOAA and more. 
 
The chapter leaders engaged and enlisted other Galveston Bay stakeholders to cleanup plastic accumulation hotspots in sensitive estuarine and shoreline areas. GBAC created and coordinated the Plastic Prevention Partnership (P3) which includes 11 federal, state and non-profit entities. GBAC designed and funded “Plastic Cleanup Here” and “Plastic Pollution Prevention Partnership” signs that are posted at all plastic pollution cleanups.   
 
GBAC’s goal was to create a behavior change to support current and future stewards of the Galveston Bay Area. The results have been contagious – people respond to others’ work; they want to help and now they know how and where to start.
 
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. First, second and third place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts. The awards ceremony will be held on November 30, 2017, at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, Alabama.  
 
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.
 
For more about EPA’s Gulf of Mexico Program: https://www.epa.gov/gulfofmexico
 
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