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The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Farm Service Agency and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation 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 third place Gulf Guardian Award for 2008 in the Partnership Category is being awarded to Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, Iowa Farm Service Agency and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation of Des Moines, Iowa, for their formation of a partnership of Iowa Agriculture for Reducing Nutrients to the Gulf. 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 at approximately 6 p.m. at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, Versailles Ballroom in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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.

Iowa farmers, landowners, and conservation agencies have partnered in a 3-part strategy addressing Gulf hypoxia and enhancing local water quality by reducing nitrate and phosphorus transport to water resources from cropped landscapes. This strategy included 1) research developing technologies for wetland and drainage systems to reduce nutrient transport from cropped lands, 2) construction of strategically-targeted and designed nitrogen-removal wetlands through the Iowa Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and 3) development of pilot demonstrations for a market-driven, private/public initiative to deploy integrated drainage and wetland landscape systems for nutrient removal targeted across 6 million acres of cropped lands. The CREP will continue as a major initiative for reducing Iowa nutrients to the Gulf and potentially a Corn Belt model. Current projects completed and underway due to this partnership involve 72 wetlands, treating drainage from 86,100 acres of cropland at 40-90% nitrate removal.

"In the years since the Gulf of Mexico Program partnership began recognizing Gulf Guardian award winners, literally hundreds of agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals have distinguished themselves,” said Jimmy Palmer, Regional Administrator of the EPA Office in Atlanta. “Their efforts to preserve, protect and restore the priceless Gulf of Mexico resources deserve the highest commendation.”

“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 “This is the 9th year of the Gulf Guardian Awards Program and I am proud to say that each year the winners in all categories have represented the very best of environmental accomplishments in the Gulf of Mexico. The 2008 award winners truly exemplify the bond that enthusiastic and committed citizens, communities, governments, and businesses share in addressing complex problems 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.