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Audubon Nature Institute’s Film Hurricane on the Bayou Receives GULF GUARDIAN AWARD

Release Date: 10/22/2008
Contact Information: Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the Audubon Nature Institute/Aquarium of the Americas’ in New Orleans, Louisiana will receive a first place Gulf Guardian Award for 2008 in the Youth and Education Category, for their film, Hurricane on the Bayou. The 2008 Gulf Guardian awards hold a special significance this year as they will be awarded in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Program’s 20th Anniversary Celebration! (1988-2008). The awards ceremony will be held on October 29, 2008 beginning at approximately 6 p.m. at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, Versailles Ballroom in New Orleans, Louisiana

Hurricane on the Bayou began in early 2005 with two-time Academy Award-nominated producer/director Greg MacGillivray shooting the film as a story he hoped would sound the alarm on the destruction of Louisiana’s vital wetlands and how a hypothetical hurricane could lead to a massive flood in New Orleans. He never could have predicted that the nightmare he was exploring on film was about to become real life – the August 2005 landfall of Hurricane Katrina. Following that unexpected event, the film crew switched gears and broadened the scope of the film, creating a visual panorama of the damage wrought.

The film illustrates how the loss of wetlands grows more and more dangerous every year as Louisiana loses 16,000 acres of wetlands and marshes - enough to make up the island of Manhattan. As the coast deteriorates, many unique animal and plant species become endangered, and the city of New Orleans is left wide open to Mother Nature’s ferocious forces. Spectacular flights over the Gulf of Mexico reveal the shocking reality that every half an hour; Louisiana loses a section of wetlands the size of a football field. In the film, Tab Benoit (one of the featured musicians) explains that hope for New Orleans’ future will lie in concerted efforts not only to preserve these wetlands by redirecting the Mississippi River’s silt, and re-planting vital foliage.

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. A first, second, and third place award are given each year in seven categories – individual, business, youth and education, nonprofit organizations, government, partnership and bi-national efforts.

“Gulf Guardian award winners represent the very best in efforts to ensure the Gulf of Mexico region remains a place where people, industry, and the environment can continue to thrive,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “Their accomplishments are making a positive difference for everyone, and EPA is pleased to recognize their environmental leadership.”

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 and is proud to be celebrating 20 years of successful partnerships to protect the Gulf of Mexico.

Bryon Griffith, Director of the Gulf of Mexico Program said “After 9 years of conducting the Gulf Guardian Awards Program, I never cease to be amazed by the quality and depth of environmental accomplishments across the Gulf of Mexico region. The 2008 award winners will play an important part of the Gulf of Mexico Program's 20th anniversary celebration. (1988-2008) These special winners proudly illustrate for all of us what committed citizens, communities, governments, and businesses that share a common vision can do to improve, protect, and sustain our regional and national treasure, the Gulf of Mexico.”

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2008, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button.

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call the Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726 or visit our web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo.