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EPA Awards $2.4 million to Restore Coastal Habitats in the Gulf

Release Date: 10/14/2010
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Joe Hubbard at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

(DALLAS – October 14, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded more than $2.4 million to revitalize coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP), and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) are the grant recipients. They will use the money to restore land lost in areas where commercial and industrial development has decreased natural areas causing habitat loss and land degradation.

The funds will be split between the three organizations. TCEQ developed the Galveston Bay Estuary Program which includes a comprehensive conservation and management plan (CCMP). The plan focuses on restoration and maintenance of chemical, physical and biological integrity of estuaries. The state of Texas will receive $800,000 towards activities that include assessing trends in water quality, natural resources and implementation of the CCMP.

CBBEP, a local Texas non-profit, will receive $815,000 to implement plans to protect and restore the health and productivity of Texas’ bays and estuaries. CBBEP is a volunteer organization that works with industry, environmental groups, bay users and local governments to improve the health of the coastal areas.

The Barataria-Terrebone National Estuary Program (BTNEP) under the LUMCON organizational structure will focus on the implementation of a CCMP. The plan will include efforts to restore coastal estuaries in the Barataria-Terrebonne Bay of coastal Louisiana. BTNEP's mission is the preservation and restoration of the estuary and will receive $800,000.

“The window of opportunity for conservation of natural resources is gradually closing. These projects foster new approaches to conserve coastal wetlands,” said Al Armendariz, Regional Administrator. “Protection and renewal of the wetlands will provide increased protection from coastal storms and more recreational opportunities.”

The National Estuary Program (NEP) was established in 1987 by amendments to the Clean Water Act to identify, restore, and protect nationally significant estuaries of the United States. Unlike traditional regulatory approaches to environmental protection, the program targets a broad range of issues and engages local stake-holders in the process. The program is designed to encourage local communities to take responsibility for managing their own estuaries. Each NEP is made up of representatives from federal, state and local government agencies responsible for managing the estuary's resources, as well as members of the community. Stakeholders work together to identify problems in the estuary, develop specific actions to address those problems, and create and implement a formal management plan to restore and protect the estuary.

Additional information on EPA grants: http://www.epa.gov/region6/gandf/index.htm

More about activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/region6

EPA audio file is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/podcast/oct2010.html

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