July 2010 Newsletter

AEC Leaders Brief Members of Obama Administration

As part of its’ on-going work, America’s Energy Coast members brief Federal and state leaders on sustainability issues surrounding the region’s economy, culture and environment.

Recently, AEC leaders briefed key leaders in the U.S. Department of Interior, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the National Oceans Policy Task Force and the Interagency Working Group demonstrating that the balanced approach taken by the AEC continues to receive acknowledgment by the Federal Administration and constituents in the region.

AEC leaders discussed immediate steps that could be taken by the federal government toward a comprehensive long-term Gulf Coast recovery including:

  • Funding already authorized restoration plans that begin to connect the river to the wetlands.
  • Immediate action on the President’s request for $19 million for beneficial use of dredge material.
  • The acceleration of OCS revenue sharing to Gulf Coast states to provide critical funds before 2017 when land loss will reach tragic proportions.
  • Dedicating a portion of funds from BP to restoration projects that lead to the survival of coastal communities through coastal restoration.
  • Fixing conflicting federal policies that impede coastal restoration and removing the red tape holding back Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) grants to our states.

For more information on the AEC resolutions and recent activities, please visit: www.americasenergycoast.org and see the “Publications and Resources” section of the website.

America’s WETLAND Featured on Garland Robinette’s Radio Show

America’s WETLAND Foundation was featured again on Garland Robinette’s show on WWL radio to discuss plans to rebuild Louisiana’s wetlands. The discussion centered on President Obama’s recent pledge to move forward with coastal restoration in the Gulf region, including the first mention of the issue from the Oval Office in the President’s recent primetime address, and the appointment of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, former Governor of Mississippi, to spearhead recovery efforts.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, America’s WETLAND Managing Director Val Marmillion noted that simply reacting to these symptoms, as was done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, leads to little restoration.

Governor Mabus plans to offer recommendations soon and will be meeting with leaders in the region. Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast will likely inform these efforts.

Women of the Storm Launch Campaign to Restore the Gulf

In the face of the Gulf oil spill and in response to ongoing coastal restoration needs, the Women of the Storm, a non-partisan, grassroots organization formed in New Orleans and South Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, announce today the launch of a campaign to Restore the Gulf.

A grassroots initiative to secure long-term funding to restore and protect the Gulf Coast and area wetlands, Restore the Gulf features the viral distribution of a celebrity-studded video, “Be the One,” designed to capture signatures to an online petition in support of this cause.

“The Gulf Coast is an American treasure and its deterioration affects us all,” said Sandra Bullock. “The solution begins with each American demanding the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, its coastlines and its wetlands for ourselves and for future generations.”

The Restore the Gulf effort is designed to communicate the importance of the region to the entire country, giving Americans in every state a concrete way to show their support for the Gulf Coast.

“The impact of a healthy Gulf of Mexico is critical to American domestic energy, shipping, seafood, ecology, recreation and culture,” said Women of the Storm founder Anne Milling. “This campaign harnesses the latest in innovative social media techniques to galvanize the nation for coastal restoration and wetlands protection.”

The creative initiative seeks to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures on the electronic petition that Women of the Storm will deliver to Congress and the Administration to show broad and deep national support for funding and implementation of Gulf Coast restoration.

Celebrities and influencers who appear in the “Be The One” video in support of this cause include: Sandra Bullock, Drew Brees, Blake Lively, Lenny Kravitz, John Goodman, Dave Matthews, Wendell Pierce, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Emeril Lagasse, Peyton and Eli Manning, Alfre Woodard, Bryan Batt, Harry Shearer, Eric Harvey (of Spoon), Dr. John, Leah Chase, Jack del Rio, Clay Hensley and many more.

The “Be the One” video and its accompanying petition can be accessed through various social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. A 2-D barcode has been created in partnership with Scanbuy, Inc., the global leader in mobile barcode solutions, and is being printed on t-shirts and on pocket cards to broaden the reach of the movement. A mobile version of RestoreTheGulf.com allows for viewing of the video and signing of the petition from smartphones.

The non-profit group Women of the Storm does not advocate particular legislation. “We simply seek to demonstrate to national leaders the strong support in every corner of America for the essential funding of Gulf Coast restoration,” said Milling.

America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps Half Year Report

Energetic America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps (AWCC) members recruited 1,395 volunteers to participate in hands-on wetland restoration projects, an astounding feat considering their volunteer recruitment goal for the first half of the year was 250. The volunteers completed 5,077 hours of service while helping with 17 restoration projects this year.

As the hands-on extension of the Foundation, AWCC members work directly with communities throughout Louisiana to assist with conservation efforts and to educate residents about the effects of coastal erosion and environmental degradation. The AWCC made significant improvements in water management, plant growth and land preservation by orchestrating restoration and conservation projects, including plantings and debris clearing.

2010: AWCC Restoration and Education Project Highlights

First Quarter Restoration events:

All members gathered in Baton Rouge for a “Pre-service Orientation” to start the 2010 service year. Members learned about wetland conservation in Louisiana and how to conduct successful education programs and participated in a service project that helped the Youth Wetlands Week Program package educational materials eventually distributed to more than 50,000 students across the state.

AWCC members facilitated restoration projects in St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans and Plaquemines Parish to help protect vulnerable coastal communities from future storms and erosion. Collectively, the AWCC planted more than 2,300 indigenous plants in February alone, accomplishing these goals in partnership with local schools.

AWCC members coordinated several wetland restoration planting projects in March, partnering with the Youth Wetlands Program, 4H, University of New Mexico, and Mount Mary College. In separate plantings, more than 3,100 trees and 13,500 plugs of grass were planted in coastal areas along Holly Beach, in Pilottown and Plaquemines Parish, as well as in north Louisiana areas of LaCombe, Ruston, and Winnfield.

Members also distributed wetland educational material and taught students how to grow plants in greenhouses constructed in Plaquemines parish. One member led nearly 600 students in St. Bernard parish in a bald cypress tree planting project and another worked with a group of volunteers from the University of New Mexico and Mount Mary College on a project, splitting and organizing plants at the Wetland Plant Center in City Park in New Orleans.

First Quarter Educational Events:

AWCC members helped distribute wetland educational materials for the Youth Wetlands Education and Outreach program by delivering materials to AgCenter parish offices that will later be distributed to the local teachers. On Earth Day, members had a booth at Audubon Zoo’s annual Earth Fest, emphasizing to children the importance of wetlands and helping them finger paint with marsh mud. One member partnered with Audubon Zoo’s Wetlands Express program to bring an alligator, rat, bull frog and Louisiana pine snake to a preschool in Lafourche Parsh to give the children a greater understanding of the animals living in Louisiana’s wetlands.

Second Quarter Restoration Events:

AWCC partnered with Plaquemines Parish, Conoco Phillips, the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, and the Youth Wetlands Program to lead volunteer restoration projects in Fort Pike, Ruston, Rockefeller Refuge, Winn Parish, Grand Isle, New Orleans, West Feliciana and Plaquemines Parish. These projects resulted in the planting of over 400 trees and 17,000 plugs of grass in the second quarter of 2010.

Members also volunteered for a beach sweep at Holly Beach, serving as team leaders at the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana/Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary Program event. In addition, a member in Shreveport led students from St. Mark’s Cathedral School on a wetland outreach field trip to participate in invasive species removal.

Another member led a group of volunteers in re-potting plants at the City Park greenhouses in New Orleans. These plants will later be used to help restore marsh areas that have been impacted by the BP oil disaster. Finally, one member has been volunteering with the Audubon Society as a “bird liaison,” helping to monitor birds being transported to Fort Jackson to be cleaned in wake of the oil leak.

Second Quarter Educational Events:

AWCC partnered with Louisiana Sea Grant to develop a booth for Baton Rouge’s Earth Day festival, teaching visitors about wetland conservation and helping children decorate paper shopping bags with wetland pictures and phrases. Another booth at a wetlands education event at Wetland Watcher Park in Norco taught children about coastal restoration through the use of a Wetlands Jeopardy game and marsh mud painting.

For the fourth year in a row, students in fourth through 12th grades across the state studied and celebrate Louisiana’s wetlands during Youth Wetlands Week, April 19-23, 2010. Youth Wetlands Week has educated more than 200,000 students on the importance of wetlands.

In partnership with the Youth Wetlands Week and Louisiana 4-H, members taught a two-day class on the importance of wetlands, showing them how they can get involved in wetland restoration during a field trip to Tickfaw State Park. Another ten-week 4-H event in Pollack led by AWCC members is taking children on a weekly trip to the wetlands. Finally, a program of the St. Charles Parish Library Summer Reading Program focused on restoration and issues surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil leak and was taught by AWCC members.

From Cupcakes to Concerts

Donations Support America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps

With the Deepwater Horizon disaster on their minds, supporters of the America’s WETLAND Foundation have been holding events, creating charms and selling cupcakes to benefit the work of the America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps. Here’s a sample of some recent events:

July 3, 2010 – Shreveport, LA “Saturday In The Square” is an event happening on the first Saturday of the month during the summer in Shreveport, Louisiana. Each month there is a different featured headlining music act, as well as local bands, artists and food vendors. The organizers of the event share a strong love for the well-being and restoration of the Louisiana wetlands and donated a portion of the proceeds from their July 3rd event to America’s WETLAND Foundation.

June 20, 2010 – Washington, DC The Citizens Association of Georgetown in Washington, DC held a summer concert that benefitted America’s WETLAND Foundation. The concert, sponsored by local businesses and the local Georgetown community, featured Zydeco band Junkyard Saints. Amy Kuhnert, the concert organizer, is a native Louisianan and saw the concert as an opportunity to give back in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. America’s WETLAND Foundation had a table the concert, handing out informational materials on coastal restoration and raising funds to further its efforts.

June 26, 2010 – Bossier City, LA Kim Woods, owner of Buttercups Cupcakes in Bossier City, LA, recently held a day long event to help raise funds and awareness for the America’s WETLAND Foundation’s coastal restoration efforts in response to the oil spill. Proceeds from the sale of Ms. Woods’ cupcakes totaled over $4,000.00. America’s WETLAND Foundation managing director, Valsin A. Marmillion, said the “Cupcakes for the Coast” proceeds will be used to buy plants for restoration projects undertaken by the America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program that AWF supports with its partner, LSU AgCenter. “We’re very grateful to Kim, as it is unusual for gross proceeds to be donated, rather than just a portion of the profits,” said Marmillion. “Kim is a welcomed new partner in our fight to save the coast.”

Buttercups Cupcakes is located at 1115 Villaggio Blvd. in Bossier City, Louisiana.

Call to Action in the Wake of Deepwater Horizon

On June 29, the America’s WETLAND Foundation, published a letter to the editor in the Daily Comet on the importance of coastal restoration in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The letter urged that coastal restoration must be an immediate priority saying, “We cannot afford ‘we’ll get to restoration soon’ to be the answer.”

It was also noted that, “The price tag for hurricanes Katrina and Rita has climbed past $150 billion dollars with little or no serious attention and support for coastal restoration.”

The letter was direct in its call on those charged with cleaning up the most recent disaster in the Gulf to move forward on coastal restoration. “The very survival of communities across our coast is directly tied to restoring our wetlands. Restoration must be a part of the fix. Let’s not allow this moment to pass without solutions that include saving this valuable place for all Americans. When will the nation understand that we must attack the disease and not the symptoms or we will all be big losers?”

America’s Energy Coast Leadership Forum in Galveston, Texas

America’s Energy Coast (AEC) held a leadership forum, entitled “Toward Resiliency for America’s Energy Coast Communities” in Galveston, Texas on May 26, 2010. The AEC is focused on solutions for sustaining the vulnerable landscape of the Gulf region of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and the activities that are critical to the nation’s energy and economic security that take place there. America’s Energy Coast convenes leaders of industry, the national environmental and conservation community, academia, government, and diverse coastal interests throughout the four energy-producing states.

In addition to panel discussions and presentations on issues and challenges facing the region’s coastal communities, including fallout from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, AEC presented Jody Henneke and Mark Hurley with Special Recognition Awards for their work to restore and protect Louisiana’s coast. BG America also made a generous donation of $100,000 to America’s WETLAND Foundation to further our work. David Keane of BG made the presentation during the forum.

On May 25, 2010, the America’s Energy Coast Hearing on “Vulnerable Infrastructure and Transportation Routes For Energy and Economic Security” was held in Galveston, Texas. The hearing addressed trade offs required for long term sustainability and waterborne transportation, including shipping, shipbuilding, port operations and vessel operations.

America’s WETLAND Gulf Oil Spill Response Fund

The America’s WETLAND Foundation has added online action tools on the right side of the homepage (www.americaswetland.com) in order to better respond to coastal advocates wanting to help in the wake of the deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Now, coastal advocates can help organize volunteer wetland restoration and replanting projects in areas affected by the oil spill by donating via text. All donations support the work of the America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps (AWCC) – an Americorps youth program in cooperation with LSU AgCenter. Each $10 donation will help purchase 10 plugs of Smooth Cord Grass, a grass that grows well in salt and brackish water with an intricate root system to support the retention of marshland.

Give $10 now by texting – “Isupport wetlands” to 22202.

Advocates can also sign the Women of the Storm’s (WOS) “Be the ONE” petition soon. The Women of the Storm hope to gather signatures from across America in support of funding and implementing Gulf Coast restoration. WOS will take the petition to Congress and the Administration in a visit to Washington, DC. Stars included in the promotional video tie-in include Sandra Bullock, Wendell Pierce, Lenny Kravitz, John Goodman, Dave Matthews, Mary Matalin, James Carville, Drew Brees, Peyton and Eli Manning, Emeril Lagasse, Harry Shearer, Dr. John, Leah Chase, Bryan Batt, Blake Lively, Alfre Woodard, Eric Harvey (of the band Spoon) and many more.

The other action item tool added to the America’s WETLAND website is the Parishes Against Coastal Erosion (PACE) “Flood ‘Em” public official database that makes it easy for coastal advocates to look up the contact information of their public officials to send them a letter or email on the importance of coastal erosion.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

America’s Energy Coast Leadership Forum – October 20, 2010 – New Orleans, LA

Please join us for the fourth America’s Energy Coast Policy Forum to be held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New Orleans on October 20, 2010. The forum will include a special presentation on the results of a comprehensive Adaptation Study of the Energy Infrastructure within the Gulf Coast area. This event is made possible by the generous support of Entergy. You can register to attend this free event by visiting www.americasenergycoast.org.

DELTAS2010: World Delta Dialogues – October 17- 20, 2010 – New Orleans, LA

DELTAS2010 is a four-day, hands-on conference focused on designing sustainable development, restoration and protection scenarios for world deltaic regions, using the setting of the Mississippi Delta as the focus for the discussion. In addition to pre-conference, off-site lab sessions, tours and thematic plenary sessions, a series of facilitated, highly interactive, working design charettes will produce cross-disciplinary approaches to the issues facing deltas worldwide.

DELTAS2010 will result in recommendations to be presented to organizations interested in comprehensive forecasting, best practices, technology transfer, research, and policy for delta regions. This report of findings will encourage the development of pilot projects identified by potential partners during the conference, with a status report to be delivered to participants at the second World Delta Dialogues planned for 2012.

This conference is made possible, in part, by the generous support of DELTAS2010 Global Sponsors, Shell, Chevron and Entergy. For more information about the conference and to register, please visit: www.deltas2010.com.