Ocean Currents » kara lankford http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:26:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 My Vision for the Gulf http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/04/20/my-vision-for-the-gulf/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/04/20/my-vision-for-the-gulf/#comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 12:55:27 +0000 Kara Lankford http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=14191

Together we can get to a Gulf that is restored, healthy and thriving once more.

April 20, 2017, marks seven years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster began, taking the lives of 11 people and severely impacting the Gulf of Mexico.

As someone who grew up and works in the Gulf, I deeply appreciate all that we have accomplished over the last seven years.
Together, we saw the RESTORE Act bring much needed Clean Water Act fines back to the Gulf states, and a global settlement was reached where BP will pay $20.8 billion dollars over 15 years. We now have the opportunity to fix not only the damage from the oil disaster, but also undo decades of environmental problems like water quality impairments. In the past seven years, we invested in scientific research and solutions to restore the Gulf. As a result, we now know more about our wonderful and diverse marine ecosystem with scientists discovering new species in the Gulf.

As a conservationist, I am excited to tackle the challenging work of restoring one of the most important ecosystems in the country.
An effort of this scale—from Texas to Florida, and from upriver to the deep sea—has never before been attempted. We have an unprecedented opportunity to influence the outcome, even in the absence of a guide for decision-makers to follow in order to ensure success. Sure, that’s a little scary, but to me it’s a very exciting challenge!

I am optimistic that our leadership in the Gulf of Mexico can lead the way for large-scale restoration efforts around the world.
Together, we can be an example for how multiple states and federal agencies can cooperate and build on shared strengths to restore an ecosystem that the nation relies upon for food, recreation and thriving coastal economies.

The way forward must be built on:

  1. Coordination and transparency: Wildlife, fisheries and habitats, rivers and estuaries don’t recognize state boundaries. If our restoration and management efforts are to be truly effective, we must commit to regional cooperation and integrated, cross-jurisdictional approaches. There are three major restoration programs in the Gulf recovery process with five states and seven federal agencies in the mix. This is complex, to say the least, but hiccups can be avoided with a formal mechanism for coordination. It will allow for us all to pool and stretch available resources, find synergies between projects and successfully negotiate conflicts that might arise.
  2. Science-based ecosystem approach: Science is the key to success. Countries like the Netherlands have conducted smaller scale restoration efforts and learned that without a strong foundation in science, we are doomed to fail. We must ensure that restoration replicates natural systems where possible, use modeling and science to guarantee the best possible outcomes and know when to change course if our wildlife are not recovering as expected.
  3. Think big! This is an incredible opportunity for the Gulf region to become a world leader in large-scale marine restoration. We shouldn’t be afraid of innovative projects that step outside of our comfort zone. Restoration at this scale calls for more than the usual restoration options. For example, mapping the habitats and species of deep-water coral communities in and around the DeSoto Canyon.

Yes, it’s been seven years since our Gulf got hit with the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.  We’ll always look back at the time with horror and sadness but now, we can also look forward to a Gulf that is restored, heathy and thriving once more.

Take action now. Tell our Gulf leaders to make smart investments in the Gulf beyond the shore.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/04/20/my-vision-for-the-gulf/feed/ 0
Celebrating Alabama’s Women in Conservation http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/08/celebrating-alabamas-women-in-conservation/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/08/celebrating-alabamas-women-in-conservation/#comments Wed, 08 Mar 2017 14:48:13 +0000 Kara Lankford http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13857

Author Kara Lankford and her mother Toni Lankford, one of the women who inspires her in her work. Courtesy Kara Lankford.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating stand out #WomeninConservtion all week long. Here, Kara Lankford, Interim Director of our Gulf Restoration Program reflects on conservation leaders in Alabama. This piece originally appeared on AL.com

Check back every day for new blogs, and don’t forget to join our Twitter chat today, March 8th, at 1 pm EST! 

I was put on the path to protect the incredible beauty and natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico by the most inspiring and influential woman in my life—my mother Toni Lankford.

On long, rambling walks in the woods, she would point out different plant species and trees and what liked to eat them. She taught me that everything plays a different role in nature and is absolutely necessary to the ecosystem, even venomous snakes!

She taught me to appreciate nature and everything that it offers us. Her passion for nature shaped my career path and instilled in me a love for the natural environment. I remember listening in awe as she named of all the birds in our backyard. She was a walking encyclopedia. She would have the answer to practically any question. She also taught me about conservation leaders like Rachel Carson and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas—women who inspired the modern environmental movement.

The work I do today to restore the Gulf is a testament to that early foundation. And I am incredibly grateful to also work and learn from a supportive group of women in conservation that are leading the charge for restoring the Gulf in the wake of the BP oil disaster.

The conservation sector in Alabama is largely led by women. Directly after the disaster, we sprang into action to tackle the country’s largest environmental disaster in history. Women played a crucial role from the early days of response and cleanup, to getting the RESTORE Act passed in 2012 and securing an unprecedented $20.8 billion settlement from BP. It’s worth remembering that there have been many amazing Alabama women who made it their life’s work to protect this beautiful place even before the events of April 2010.

Tammy Herrington has spent the past 20 years calling Alabama home. As the Executive Director of Conservation Alabama, she tracks the decisions made by local, state, and national elected officials protecting the people and places in Alabama we all love.

Casi Callaway grew up in Mobile and, other than a stint in Washington D.C., has invested almost 20 years in protecting her favorite watershed. As the Executive Director of Mobile Baykeeper, she protects the health of our coastal communities and environment through education, monitoring and restoration.

It’s my hope that our group of strong women leaders will inspire future generations of women to continue our work to preserve “Alabama the Beautiful.” I have no doubt the work we are doing to restore the Gulf over the next 15 years will leave a lasting legacy, much like the incredible women who helped pave the way for us.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/08/celebrating-alabamas-women-in-conservation/feed/ 0
New Leadership for Ocean Conservancy’s Gulf Restoration Program http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/08/new-leadership-for-ocean-conservancys-gulf-restoration-program/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/08/new-leadership-for-ocean-conservancys-gulf-restoration-program/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2016 19:22:30 +0000 Kara Lankford http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12596

Gulf Restoration Program staff Kara Lankford and Bethany Carl Kraft on Monterey Bay in California. Credit: Rachel Guillory

Bethany Carl Kraft has been the eloquent voice and thought leader of Ocean Conservancy’s Gulf Restoration Program for the past five years. Her leadership has taken our team through milestones such as the implementation of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act), a global settlement with BP that includes over $1 billion dedicated to restoration in the open ocean, and a Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan that lays out the strategy for restoring the Gulf in the wake of the BP oil disaster.

We have accomplished so much as a team, and it is with a heavy heart that I announce Bethany’s departure as the director of our Gulf Restoration Program. Anyone who has spent five minutes with Bethany understands her love for the Gulf of Mexico and her passion for restoring it. This passion has led her to her new position as the Senior Project Manager, Gulf Coast for Volkert & Associates which she begins this week. In this role, she will be getting her feet muddy once again managing on-the-ground restoration projects across the Gulf region.

As the Ocean Conservancy Gulf Restoration team goes through this leadership transition, we remain strong and ready to tackle the important work that lies ahead. We are committed to ensuring monitoring programs and protocols are in place, maintaining the integrity of the open ocean funding and advocating for coordination among the different restoration programs to avoid duplication and encourage leveraging.

I’ll be taking over as interim director of our program and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this dedicated team. I’ve been with Ocean Conservancy for almost six years and I can say throughout every transition this team has stayed the course and kept the end goal of comprehensive restoration of the Gulf at the forefront.

Ocean Conservancy would like to thank Bethany Carl Kraft for her outstanding leadership of the Gulf Restoration Program. She leaves behind a legacy of enthusiasm for restoring the Gulf for future generations and an ecosystem focus that will continue on in her absence.

 

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/08/new-leadership-for-ocean-conservancys-gulf-restoration-program/feed/ 0
Ocean Conservancy’s Kara Lankford Receives Alabama Coastal Cleanup Award http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/18/ocean-conservancys-kara-lankford-receives-alabama-coastal-cleanup-award/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/18/ocean-conservancys-kara-lankford-receives-alabama-coastal-cleanup-award/#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2012 17:30:30 +0000 Bethany Kraft http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3906

We are very excited to announce that our own Kara Lankford received the Alabama PALS (People Against a Littered State) Governor’s award for her long-time work with the Alabama Coastal Cleanup. She was recently honored at an awards ceremony in Montgomery.

We are not surprised others have taken notice of Kara’s commitment and enthusiasm to keeping our ocean clean and healthy. “Not everyone has a job they like, much less one they can say they love,” she said of the award. “In that respect I feel honored. I love my job. Since graduating from college I have had the opportunity to work in my field of environmental sciences and have always loved my work. Winning an award for doing something that brings joy and gratification isn’t something I expected. However, it is always nice to be recognized for something you are passionate about.”

The Alabama Coastal Cleanup first appeared on Kara’s radar when she was an intern with the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. One of her supervisors asked if she’d like to help out because of her success as zone captain for the Mobile Bay causeway site. This sounded like a great experience and a fun day so she was eager to help out. Little did she know this site was the largest in the state of Alabama and saw between 200-300 volunteers!

The team worked tirelessly that morning to get volunteers signed in, hand out trash bags, weigh the trash individually with a bathroom scale and reward participants with t-shirts. It was a long, exhausting day and she was completely inspired by the idea of everyone around the world cleaning our waterways of trash on the same day. She felt that seeing the amazement on the Boy Scout troops’ and families’ faces as they filled the dumpsters to capacity was the best kind of marine debris education anyone could offer. As she says, “It was a hands-on, real life example of how marine debris can impact our ocean and I was hooked.”

Kara has been the zone captain for the Mobile Bay causeway site for about 8 years now. This past year, 2012, the team had a record of over 300 volunteers. Congratulations to Kara, and here’s to many more years as the zone captain for the causeway.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/18/ocean-conservancys-kara-lankford-receives-alabama-coastal-cleanup-award/feed/ 0