“Up Close and Personal” Highlights America’s WETLAND Foundation’s 2011 Action Agenda

AWF’s 2011 Highlights

The New Year inspired us to reflect on the progress made toward the goal of bringing the impact of Louisiana’s land loss to a nationwide audience. 2011 proved to be another year of accomplishments for the America’s WETLAND Foundation (AWF) and its America’s Energy Coast (AEC) initiative. More than 600 million viewers, listeners and readers learned about the fight to save America’s WETLAND in leading news outlets and websites across the country, including USA Today, The New York Times, AP News, American Press, Sustainable Business, and Los Angeles Times, to name a few. The Foundation earned strong television coverage and was featured in numerous appearances on New Orleans WWL Radio with Garland Robinette and Baton Rouge’s Jim Engster Show, along providing media attention on Gulf Coast resiliency issues. Local, state and national media accomplishments have been a hallmark of the AWF program and polling numbers show a greater awareness of the importance of wetlands and coastal issues in the region and the U.S.

Without listing all of the accomplishments and networks achieved during 2011 by the Foundation, we have compiled a list of what we consider to be the top 10 highlights of AWF programming from the past year.

1. Gulf Coast Communities Resilient
AWF and the AEC launched a new initiative: “BLUE RIBBON RESILIENT COMMUNITIES: Envisioning The Future of America’s Energy Coast.” During 2011, the Foundation held six forums in communities across the Gulf Coast. During each forum local stakeholders assessed their community’s vulnerabilities and, armed with the data from a granular study of the local infrastructure at risk provided in partnership with Entergy, AWF empowered stakeholders to envision, plan and act to ensure their resiliency and sustain cultural, economic and ecological values for their community. The Foundation will wrap up this initiative with four additional forums in 2012. Findings from the forums were presented in the 2011 State of the Gulf Summit, in the Gulf Ecosystem Restoration Task Force report, AWF’s meetings in Indonesia and Vietnam, and will be presented at the the 9th Intecol Conference on Wetlands in 2012. Click Here to Read More

2. Planning for DELTAS2013VIETNAM

Part of the Foundation’s three-year strategic plan is to host a second World Delta Dialogues conference. Meetings with representatives of Vietnam National University, Southern Institute for Water Resources Science, the Pacific Disaster Center, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Vietnam River Network, and Chevron Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam, were convened to establish protocols for a second international conference on shared knowledge for sustaining the world’s deltas. DELTAS2013VIETNAM will bring together national and international experts to identify best practices and comprehensive strategies for solutions to deltaic deterioration, using the Mekong Delta as a model for study and demonstration. Click Here to Read More

3. Schools Offered $5,000 Awards
The America’s WETLAND Foundation kicked off its third Keep Your Eye on the Prize competition to engage Louisiana students in saving coastal wetlands at a time when coastal land loss is increasing and more Louisiana communities are being affected. The Keep Your Eye on the Prize contest is designed to encourage students across the state to consider the significance of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands to their own lives by writing essays, creating artwork or taking photographs on the topic. The subject of the 2012 essay entries is, “How can Louisiana adapt to coastal land loss and what changes should be made?” The subject of the 2012 art/photo entries is, “Why should the area known as America’s WETLAND be saved?” The deadline to enter is January 15, 2012. For Contest Rules Click Here..

4. White House receives AWF Comments

The America’s WETLAND Foundation worked closely with the federal task forces and the White House Council on Environmental quality in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the BP Oil Spill. Through meetings and submission of comments, the Foundation presented findings drawn from its series of Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities Leadership forums. Local case examples suggesting that red tape and conflicting federal policies impede timely action to restore the coast, added to specific recommendations that give a greater voice to communities who face vulnerable futures. The Foundation also supported work and provided findings to a committee convened by the Environmental Protection Agency and chaired by Lake Charles, Louisiana, Mayor Randy Roach. His advisory committee on community resiliency also provided recommendations to the President’s Gulf Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. Click Here to Read More

5. National Poll Reveals Wetland Concerns

The America’s WETLAND Foundation commissioned the scientific poll of 1,132 respondents conducted August 10-14 by The Kitchens Group, a Florida-based national market research firm. It has a margin of error of 2.9%. The poll focuses on issues critical to sustaining the Gulf Coast region and the health of the Mississippi River. Among other findings, the research concludes a majority of Americans view coastal land loss as serious issue and one in which the Federal Government should take responsibility for action and funding. Click Here to Read More

6. Coastal stewardship & Cultural Survival

The America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps engaged hundreds of volunteers in hands-on coastal restoration and recovery activities, including vegetative planting. In conjunction with its programs to build resilient communities, the Foundation held a number of large scale volunteer efforts, including a demonstration project to restore Native American land by planting “floating islands” in Terrebonne Parish, native dune plants in an effort to help fortify the Texas coastal areas, and wetland grasses and irises planted along the banks of Bayou St. John. The projects, in cooperation with local education and NGOs such as Coastal Conservation Association, The Artist Boat, BISCO, LSU Ag Center, Sassafras and corporate/community volunteers from Entergy and Shell, Terrebonne, Lafourche, Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes and Galveston involved hundreds getting their hands dirty for the cause of saving the coast. Click Here for More Information

7. AWF Supports the Restore Act
Calling July’s introduction of a bill to restore and sustain the Gulf of Mexico and its coast an historic moment in reviving a dying ecosystem, the America’s WETLAND Foundation lauded U.S. Senate leaders who unified around the legislation. The legislation, introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Senator Jim Sessions (R-AL) and six Gulf Coast Senatorial colleagues, marks a breakthrough in responding to the aftermath of the BP oil spill. Click Here to Read More

8. DELTAS2010 Findings Report Released
The Foundation released the DELTAS2010 findings report in March 2011. For five days in October of 2010, more than 400 deltaic and coastal leaders from around the globe applied their expertise to problem solving focused on issues of deltaic sustainability. One of the recommendations in the report led to the Foundation’s Blue Ribbon Resilient Community Forum Initiative. Click Here to Read More

9. AWF launches new website
The America’s WETLAND website remains a prime resource for disseminating important information about campaign activities, events, initiatives, and up-to-date information about restoration efforts. The Foundation uses a variety of mediums to communicate with its supporters and the general public. Our Facebook group is titled “America’s WETLAND: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana” and our Twitter handle is @AmericasWetland.

10. Coastal Restoration and Carbon Market

AWF partnered with Restore America’s Estuaries in an initiative to bring tidal wetland restoration, protection, and creation into the carbon markets. The restoration of tidal wetlands, salt marshes, mangroves and other coastal habitats offers significant potential for sequestering carbon. A national greenhouse gas (GHG) offset protocol/methodology for tidal wetlands activities will provide the means for project managers to develop offset projects in tidal wetlands and for climate registries to issue credits. The Foundation held a number of meetings with industry, the State of Louisiana’s Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, and the engineering community to encourage progress on the beneficial use of carbon, an area of findings from the Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities Leadership Forums. Click Here to Read More

Plans for 2012 include the expansion of the Blue Ribbon program to better connect the interests of the Mississippi Delta and the 31 states and two Canadian provinces of the Mississippi River Basin in a new program to be launched in June of 2012, The Big River Works initiative. More updates on this and our plans to convene DELTAS2013VIETNAM in April of 2013 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, will be a part of future newsletters.

Happy New Year to all who keep saving America’s WETLAND a priority and the many corporate and individual sponsors who make the programs of the America’s WETLAND Foundation possible!