This program to restore Alabama’s coastal environment and economy grows
A $ 7 million restoration project launched in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 is gaining momentum.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the RESTORE Council (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revised Economies of the Gulf Coast States) have announced that they will spend an additional $ 11.9 million to continue the work of the program. GulfCorps until 2025. The program, originally established in 2017 as a four-year joint project of The Nature Conservancy and NOAA, aims to restore natural features and habitats on critical conservation lands in Alabama, in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
“We appreciate the continued support of the RESTORE Council to GulfCorps, our award-winning program that employs young adults to restore habitat in their coastal communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” said Paul Doremus, Deputy Assistant Administrator of NOAA Fisheries for operations. “The work of Corps members increases the economic and environmental resilience of the Gulf and equips them with skills and training to prepare for long-term careers in natural resources. “
GulfCorps helps Alabama’s coastal environment from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.
GulfCorps employs several teams of young adults in each Gulf state with support from the Student Conservation Association (SCA), the Corps Network and the RESTORE Council. SCA teams plant native vegetation, remove invasive species, restore shorelines and provide public access by maintaining trails, repairing boardwalks and removing debris.
“We have different crew members who grew up here in Mobile and they don’t even realize all of this wonderful habitat is around them,” said Larissa Graham, Gulf Coast Team Manager for SCA. “They’ve been to the coast and they haven’t even seen different wetlands and different habitats like that, so it’s really an eye-opening experience for them.”
Since work began in 2018, SCA teams have restored over 3,000 acres of coastal habitat, including the Weeks Bay Estuary National Research Reserve, Meaher State Park, Sanctuary of ‘Audubon on Dauphin Island and sites owned by Mobile and Orange Beach, Mobile County and the state of Alabama. Katie Arnold, GulfCorps program coordinator for SCA, said crew members and leaders are trained and educated, providing them with marketable skills for jobs in the restaurant economy taking shape in the Gulf of Mexico.
“It makes me smile because I look back on the memories of being a team manager,” said Arnold. “Being out there for hours and sweat – especially in a bog environment when it’s 90 degrees during the summer months, making sure these plants are easily seen so that a field trip can come there and be informed of the reasons why this environment is preserved… that’s what we are looking for.
SCA is a joint partner in other coastal habitat restoration projects, such as an effort to restore, protect and maintain the 60-acre Alta Fish River Nature Reserve in Baldwin County. This project is coordinated by the South Alabama Land Trust with assistance from SCA, Baldwin County Sewer Service, Mobile County Wildlife and Conservation Association, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of West Florida and Nature Connect. The work is funded by a grant from the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program, a collaborative effort of several partners, including Alabama Power and its parent company Southern, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Preserving this property will prevent a lot of erosion,” said Arnold. “This little piece of land really makes a difference.
Graham said the work also benefits crew members.
“What we want to see at the end of the season is that they go out and do a good job with a different organization,” Graham said. “I tell members all the time, ‘This is the one job where they’re going to help you find your next job,’ because at the end of the day, we just want to educate them and inspire them to be our next generation of leaders. conservation queue. This is our goal.
If you know of a young adult who would be interested in joining the SCA to work on a GulfCorps team, contact the SCA at thesca.org.
(Courtesy of the Alabama NewsCenter)