The Blog Aquatic » louisiana http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Communities Come Together to Restore the Gulf http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/04/02/communities-coming-together-to-restore-the-gulf/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/04/02/communities-coming-together-to-restore-the-gulf/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 13:30:48 +0000 Michelle Erenberg http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7970

Great things happen when people come together and collaborate on a shared vision, especially when that shared vision is a healthier Gulf of Mexico. This notion rang true at a series of workshops Ocean Conservancy helped to coordinate in Mobile and Baldwin counties on the Alabama Gulf Coast. These “Community Conversations” were an opportunity to share information with and collect ideas from residents and business owners about the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.

As you might remember, NFWF established this fund with $2.544 billion from a settlement resolving the criminal cases against BP and Transocean as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Alabama will receive $356 million over the next five years to fund projects that benefit Alabama’s coastal and marine wildlife and habitats. Last fall, 22 projects were selected to restore and protect our natural resources around the Gulf Coast. Alabama received $12.6 million for three projects, which will restore oyster reefs and watersheds around Mobile Bay.

As NFWF begins to look toward the next phase of funding, it is important that communities begin to think about their priorities for restoring the natural resources in the coastal and marine environments.

Providing a forum and an opportunity for a conversation about community restoration priorities, the workshops proved to be a great success, with a total of nearly 100 people in attendance. Not only did residents have the opportunity to share their ideas for Gulf restoration with their neighbors, but the director of the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund for Alabama, Florida and Mississippi was on hand to give more information about the purpose of the fund and the process of soliciting and selecting project proposals. Officials from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, as well as local elected officials, were also there to hear what folks had to say. The most valuable part of these workshops was the hour spent in small groups with community members talking about restoration priorities and activities needed in their communities.

Those who attended identified their top priorities for restoration in Alabama, including improving water quality and restoring estuaries, rivers, streams, wetlands, marshes and oyster reefs. Many people expressed a need for better public access to beaches and water. It was clear that their vision for Alabama focused on investments in sustainable, resilient environments and economies; a sustainable fishing industry; clean waters, bays and estuaries; and a good quality of life for all people living on the coast.

The feedback from these community conversations will be compiled into a report to be given to restoration authorities, including NFWF and state agencies, to inform their decision-making. Meaningful public engagement is critical to the success of restoration in the Gulf, and Ocean Conservancy is proud to help our local leaders in that effort.

For more information about Gulf restoration through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, check out our fact sheet.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/04/02/communities-coming-together-to-restore-the-gulf/feed/ 4
Hurricane Isaac Threatens Gulf Region http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/28/hurricane-isaac-threatens-gulf-region/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/28/hurricane-isaac-threatens-gulf-region/#comments Tue, 28 Aug 2012 19:46:14 +0000 Bethany Kraft http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2591

This visible image of Tropical Storm Isaac taken from NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite shows the huge extent of the storm. The image was captured on Aug. 28 at 8:40 a.m. EDT. Credit: NOAA

I wrote a blog post about the start of hurricane season back in June, and I am writing this one today in Hurricane Isaac’s sights. Hurricanes are anything but predictable, and this one in particular has been hard to track. Would it rain and blow into the Republican Convention in Tampa? Head West towards Texas? Now, less than 24 hours away from landfall, it looks like Isaac has made up his mind to aim for somewhere in Louisiana or Mississippi, which means rain and wind anywhere across the Gulf Coast, and hopefully not much more than that. We hope.

If you are watching the approach of the storm on TV, you’d think that hurricanes are some sort of spectator sport or reality TV show. DEVASTATION! MANDATORY EVACUATION! DESTRUCTION! It turns what is a serious event into a sort of comic theater. Note to newscasters: Gulfport is in MS and Mobile Bay in in AL. Just sayin’. (Sorry, I’ve been seeing silly screen shots on Facebook all morning that are geographically confused).

In the midst of the TV hullabaloo, I thought I’d take a few minutes to tell you what I think about Hurricane Isaac while safely tucked away from the weather, listening to the weather radio and wondering what the day will bring. Mind you, these thoughts are mine alone, and not meant to represent those of Gulf residents, generally.

1. Hurricanes make me uncharitable. I want the storm to go anywhere but where I happen to be. Well, what I really want is to be watching the radar when all of a sudden–poof!– the swirling bands of rain disappear from the screen like a magic trick. But, knowing that is pretty darn unlikely, I instead find myself wishing that the storm knocks somewhere other than my front door, even though I don’t wish bad luck on anyone else. And so I watch the radar like I’m bowling, leaning left and then right, hoping that somehow the motion of my body moves the storm where I want it to go.

2. Hurricanes make me charitable, too. When you find yourself preparing for a storm, out and about gathering water, batteries, food, etc. everyone you come across is a friend, and you are lashed in the boat together for better or worse. “You leavin’ or ridin’ it out? You boarding up? Bout to get windy!” These are the greetings you exchange with friends and perfect strangers. As the storm approaches and everyone heads home to hunker down, I am reminded of how strong our communities are when faced with tough times: texts and emails and calls coming in from friends and family both near and far, with well wishes and offers to check on homes, to come over for dinner when the storm passes, to stay safe, to holler if you need help. The Gulf region has taken a lot of hits over the years, but the fabric of our community stays tightly woven, and that is a beautiful thing.

3. Isaac makes me worry. This is the first hurricane to hit the area since the BP oil disaster in 2010, and the churning of the water from Isaac may well toss up oil that has been lurking offshore. This is a stark reminder for me of how thoughtful we need to be about restoration moving forward, and that we can’t neglect the marine environment when we talk about recovery from the oil disaster– the oil hasn’t magically disappeared. There is still a long way to go before BP has made good on its promise to “make things right” for the Gulf, and I’m afraid we will get a stark reminder of that when we see what Isaac stirs up.

4. Hurricanes remind me of how vulnerable we are, and how we become more vulnerable with every passing year. Storms are a fact of life on the Gulf, but sea level rise and loss of protective habitats like wetlands (which act like giant sponges to protect coastal communities from storm surge) means that we are more at the mercy of Mother Nature than ever before, in spite of our efforts to engineer ourselves into a protective cocoon of levees and seawalls– you just can’t engineer the wildness out of nature. If you think of our coastal communities as the beating heart of the Gulf region, then our wetlands and marshes are the rib cage that protects us. Losing them to filling, erosion or oiling peels away our protection one layer at a time, and that is a loss for everyone, not just those of us who call the Gulf region home.

It’s starting to rain a bit, and so I will sign off for now. Keep the Gulf in your thoughts today, and we’ll see you on the other side.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/28/hurricane-isaac-threatens-gulf-region/feed/ 0
Building a Mosaic of Restoration Projects for the Gulf http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/19/building-a-mosaic-of-restoration-projects-for-the-gulf/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/19/building-a-mosaic-of-restoration-projects-for-the-gulf/#comments Thu, 19 Jul 2012 14:38:52 +0000 Denny Takahashi Kelso http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1807 sea turtle mosaic

Credit: luxomedia flickr stream

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster harmed communities from Texas to Florida and damaged the Gulf ecosystem from the ocean floor to the surface across a vast swath of waters and shoreline. Restoring these damaged resources will require a comprehensive, Gulf-wide restoration plan that covers coastal environments, blue-water resources and Gulf communities.

Because wildlife like birds, fish and marine mammals move throughout the ecosystem making use of coastal, nearshore and offshore environments, effective restoration requires a holistic approach. For example, restoration efforts for oyster reefs or barrier islands in Texas should complement the work done in Alabama or in Florida so that the full suite of species and habitats can recover.

The state and federal officials responsible for creating such a plan, the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees, are making decisions about how to spend the balance of the $1 billion committed by BP for early restoration. The decisions they make about early restoration and about the longer-term restoration program to follow have the potential to pay enormous dividends to the Gulf for generations.

To help the Trustees build an effective plan, a coalition of nonprofit groups, including Ocean Conservancy, has created a portfolio of 39 projects that reflect an integrated and Gulf-wide approach to restoration.

No doubt, other projects could have been included, but the point is to start a conversation about how we collectively fulfill our vision of a healthy and prosperous Gulf. This portfolio is more than a mosaic of projects; it also initiates an ongoing dialogue about how to most effectively restore the damage to the Gulf from the BP Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

Here are a few examples from the portfolio:

  • Sea Turtle Nesting Beach Conservation: The five species of sea turtles found in the Gulf are all either endangered or threatened. This project would protect their nesting habitat and nearby waters as well as provide for rehabilitation and care of injured sea turtles.
  • Large-scale Seagrass Restoration and Protection: Seagrass beds are essential components of healthy, productive and biodiverse aquatic ecosystems. This project aims to restore those areas damaged by vessel traffic, boom placement and other response and recovery efforts in ecologically sensitive areas.
  • Monitoring Marine Mammals, Sea Turtles and Bluefin Tuna: Additional observation and biological sampling in the Gulf will help scientists understand any lingering oil-exposure effects on these species.
  • Oyster Reef Restoration: Rebuilding reefs for juvenile oysters to colonize also provides nursery habitat for fish and nesting area for birds while protecting shorelines from erosion.
  • Threatened Coral Recovery: Restoration of shallow-water corals will provide critical habitat for fishes and other reef inhabitants, improving the health and resilience of this unique reef community.
  • Rebuilding Marsh and Barrier Islands: Marsh areas provide nursery habitat and help prevent dead zones by absorbing excess nutrients; barrier islands provide critical habitat for nesting birds. By restoring these ecosystems, a wide range of Gulf species benefit.
]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/19/building-a-mosaic-of-restoration-projects-for-the-gulf/feed/ 1
Don’t Miss This Major Step Toward Gulf Restoration http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/28/dont-miss-this-major-step-toward-gulf-restoration/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/28/dont-miss-this-major-step-toward-gulf-restoration/#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2012 20:35:33 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1360

Shrimp boats outfitted to skim oil head out of Grand Isle to clean up the massive oil before it hits the Louisiana shore, Wed., June 9, 2010. Credit: Cheryl Gerber

No question it’s a big news day in Washington.  One big thing we want to make sure doesn’t get lost in the mix is the inclusion of the RESTORE Act in the final Transportation bill that Congress will vote on this week.  Directing the fines BP and other parties responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster have to pay back to the Gulf for restoration has been a key priority of ours since the early days of this ordeal.

Thanks are in order to Senator Boxer for her leadership in the negotiations and the Senators and Representatives from the Gulf States, particularly Senators Landrieu, Nelson, and Shelby, and Representative Scalise for their work in shepherding the bill to final passage.  We’d like to thank Senator Nelson of Florida specifically for making sure the bill includes a science and monitoring program, which is always a crucial issue for Ocean Conservancy.

As our press statement says, “The Transportation bill is far from perfect, but passing the RESTORE Act is a big win for the people and waters of the Gulf. The RESTORE Act will direct funding toward the places where it’s needed most — to execute a comprehensive ecosystem restoration plan and to ensure the future health of the birds, dolphins, sea turtles, fish and, of course, the local communities that greatly depend on our oceans.”

In the coming days and weeks we’ll talk more about the good, and not so good, parts of the bill and what needs to happen next (like resolving the legal case against BP so that the money can actually start flowing).

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/28/dont-miss-this-major-step-toward-gulf-restoration/feed/ 0