Winter 2004 Gulf Currents Newsletter

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GRN NEWS
10TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
Volume 8, Issue 4 December 2004

GRN BEGINNINGS
To celebrate our 10th anniversary, the GRN asked board members, staff, and peers to write articles about the GRN’s work over the past decade. The following is an account of the GRN’s earliest days written by founding board member Robert Wiygul. The Gulf Restoration Network had its humble beginnings on the front porch of a beach house (set at an environmentally safe distance behind the primary dunes, of course) over between Destin and Grayton Beach in the Florida Panhandle. I remember it well because Vic Sher, then the head of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, asked me to help put together a group of activists to come to Florida and discuss a coalition that would address the major environmental issues affecting the Gulf of Mexico. I remember it particularly well because at the time I had just moved from New Orleans to the Colorado office of the Defense Fund, and I thought Vic had a rather ambitious view of the geographical area I was supposed to cover from up there in the Rockies. After reflection, however, I recognized the real possibilities in what Vic was proposing: i.e., an opportunity to take all my activist buddies on an expensepaid trip to the beach. At the time, and now in hindsight, it was an impressive group of activists from across the Gulf Coast, so perhaps I should not be surprised that ten years later the GRN is still around. I think what is surprising is that after gestating in the belly of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund for a few years, the organization went out and matured into something considerably larger and stronger than I ever would have really anticipated, with a The GRN’s humble beginnings— environmentalists gather in Four Mile Village, Florida, in 1994. real leadership role across the Gulf. I believe that several things have allowed the GRN to endure and prevail. It needed to be invented to protect a great resource that was and is under great threats. It has managed to grow in an organic way, responding to real needs that come from grassroots rather than from the top down. And most important, it has had a top-notch staff, who took the dreamy dreams from that beach house porch and turned them into a hard-edged, technically savvy, living, breathing organism.

ANNIVERSARY THOUGHTS
By founding board member and current Chair Mark Davis

When Robert Wiygul asked me join a group of at least their little corner of it. We all needed help, folks interested the health of the Gulf of Mexico but we did not need a new player that sucked up all and the communities and natural resources around the resources and usurped our various programs. In short, we needed an organization unlike any we had it, I said “Sure” because I always say that when Robert asks for something. I seen before. agreed to go to Four Mile Village in San Destin, Florida, but I really We needed the Gulf Restoration had no idea what to expect. It was Network. 1994 and times were tough for the Gulf and people who cared about Forming the GRN was not easy it, and wetlands, water quality, but I have to say that I am very fisheries, wildlife habitat, and the proud to have been part of its health of our seafood all needed creation and I am proud to be attention. So even though I part of it today. Both I and the wasn’t sure what to expect, I was Mark Davis, fourth from left, poses with GRN Coalition to Restore Coastal excited to go because it was clear board members at a mid-90’s meeting in Louisiana have gotten far more Texas. that we needed to work smarter out the GRN than we ever put and more regionally and to learn into it and are more effective from the experience of others. because of it. But more than that, one of our nation’s greatest treasures is also better off—far At that time there was no organization that could better—because of the GRN. It has been such a both serve the Gulf as a whole and those folks good experience, I almost look forward to my next across the region who were trying to improve it, or call from Robert.

GRN PUBLICATIONS
“Costly Corps: How the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Spends Your Tax Dollars to Destroy America’s Natural Resources.” Published April, 1996. “Destruction by Design: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Continuing Assault on America's Environment.” Published December, 1999. This report covers the needless destruction of the Gulf's precious wetlands, the Corps’ waste of taxpayer dollars and failure to comply with environmental laws. Available online at: http://www.gulfrestorationnetwork.org/wetlands/Destruction%20by%20Design.htm “Dubious Delistings.” Published June, 2002. The GRN released two reports challenging Louisiana’s and Mississippi’s removal of water bodies from their lists of polluted waters warranting clean-up plans. Available online at: http://www.gulfrestorationnetwork.org/water/Listing.Report.LA.PDF and http://www.gulfrestorationnetwork.org/water/Listing.Report.MS.PDF “Guide to Protecting Wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico.” Published June, 2001. This guide has been provided to hundreds of citizens and served as the basis for numerous wetland trainings in Gulf communities. Available online at: http://www.gulfrestorationnetwork.org/wetlands/Wetlands%20Manual.htm Back issues of the GRN News are available at: http://www.gulfrestorationnetwork.org/overview/newsletter.htm
Page 2 DECEMBER 2004

WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT OUR SUPPORTERS?
You cannot reach your tenth anniversary without looking back on what made your organization’s work possible. When first formed, the GRN was a single employee organization that was severely restricted in the breadth of issues it could address. With the help and continuing support of numerous foundations, we have been able to grow to a staff of five and become an organization that is capable of addressing many of the issues facing the Gulf: wetlands loss, water quality, sustainable fisheries, protection of marine biodiversity, and mercury contamination. We recognize that none of this growth would have been possible without the financial investment made by our funders. So, on this important anniversary, we wish to extend a special thanks to those Foundations that have supported us throughout this period. We can honestly say that we could not have accomplished what we have in the last ten years without them. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Belvedere Fund (of the Rockefeller Family Fund) Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Booth Bricker Foundation Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Dorothy-Dorsett Brown Foundation Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation Environmental Support Center Greater New Orleans Foundation McKnight Foundation Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation Moriah Fund PEW Charitable Trusts Regional Marine Conservation Project River Network Rockefeller Brothers Fund RosaMary Foundation SFC Charitable Foundation Surdna Foundation Trull Foundation Turner Foundation

PRAISE FROM PEERS
I am so honored to have this opportunity to say thank you to all The help the Gulf Restoration Network has provided to me the wonderful people at GRN for the extraordinary work they on different projects, especially Mississippi TMDL's, has do. We the residents of the community of North Gulfport will allowed me to make a small difference on Mississippi's always be grateful to you for your compassion, dedication and impaired waterbodies. commitment to empowering a low income and underserved community like ours to stand up In today's times it is often hard to find and fight for justice. Again and again the GRN people with knowledge, the willingness to has come to the aid of poor working people on share, and the ability to explain it to environmental justice issues in Mississippi who others. For your time, your data, your did not have the resources to protect their willingness, your comment letters, your communities. The reality is without your knowledge, your phone calls, your research and technical support our community encouragement and the newsletters, I once would have experienced a tremendous increase again thank you for taking the time to help in flooding to our homes, churches and educate me, for caring enough to share and streets. Congratulations GRN! help me, and for making a difference!! Vicki Murillo, Director for Water
—Rose Johnson, Co-chair, Gulfport Concerned Citizens Coalition and Co-chair, MS Sierra Club Resources, educates children about wetlands at the 2004 Ocean Commotion in Baton Rouge, LA. —Paula Vassey, Conservation Chair, Gulf Coast Group

In 2000, the City of Jackson, Alabama withdrew its proposal to construct a port facility along the Tombigbee River in Alabama. The port was the main justification for the Corps' planned construction of a navigation spur that would have destroyed 189 acres of bottomland hardwood wetlands. The GRN worked with the Alabama Environmental Council to oppose the Spur Canal and Port Facility, and significantly contributed to our success by crafting extensive comments from a legal perspective on both the draft and final environmental impact statement. Together, we were able to protect important habitat in our state!
—Kirsten G. Bryant, Former Alabama Environmental Council Executive Director

Volume 8, Issue 4

Page 3

A GRN TIMELINE
1994
November Historic meeting at Four Mile Village (San Destin)—the GRN is formed.

1995
November Cynthia Sarthou is hired as the first staff person, with the title Network Coordinator.

1996
April The GRN holds its first Annual Meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi.

1997
April The GRN and the Clean Water Network hold a joint meeting the Gold Head Branch State Park near Lake City, Florida.

1998
January The GRN hosts Mike Davis and Chip Smith of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works on a tour of projects in Alabama and Mississippi. Following the tour, the Office of the Assistant Secretary issued a temporary moratorium on the issuance of permits for casino development in coastal Mississippi. GRN Annual Meeting, Beckwith Camp and Conference Center, Fairhope, Alabama.

April

June

Chris Dorsett is hired as the first Director of the Fisheries Program.

Page 4

DECEMBER 2004

A GRN TIMELINE
1999
July September The IRS grants the GRN 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. The GRN hosts Davis and Smith in a tour focused on projects and permitting practices in Florida. The tour spurs the Office of the Assistant Secretary to modify a development permit in coastal Florida to reduce habitat loss and to investigate the illegal drainage of a large wetland area in coastal Florida.

2000
May July Susie Little is hired as the GRN’s first Office Administrator. The GRN sponsors a tour of Mississippi projects for Mike Grunwald, reporter for the Washington Post. That tour resulted in the publication of articles on the Yazoo Pumps project, the Turkey Creek Development, and Mississippi Casinos as part of a weeklong series on Corps reform. The GRN launches its website, opens its first office in New Orleans, and hires its first Director of the Water Quality and Wetlands Program, Cynthia Goldberg.

Fall

2001
Spring March The GRN staff and Board complete a Strategic Plan for 2000-2006. GRN Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA

2002
April GRN Annual Meeting, Houston, Texas.

September

GRN sponsors a regional symposium, When the Water Runs Dry: The Need to Maintain a Balance between Human Water Use and Environmental Needs in Southern States. Sen. Paul Simon serves as the keynote speaker.

2003
April
Volume 8, Issue 4

U.S. PIRG and the GRN co-sponsor the first Save Our Seafood Dine-Out.
Page 5

TO ALL OUR MEMBER GROUPS!
ALABAMA ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL - Birmingham, AL ALABAMA RIVERS ALLIANCE - Birmingham, AL ALLIANCE FOR AFFORDABLE ENERGY - New Orleans, LA AMERICAN LITTORAL SOCIETY, SE CHAPTER - Sarasota, FL BAYOU PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION - Houston, TX CARIBBEAN CONSERVATION CORPORATION - Gainesville, FL CITIZENS ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER - New Iberia, LA CITIZENS FOR A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT - Baton Rouge, LA CLEAN WATER NETWORK - Tallahassee, FL COALITION TO RESTORE COASTAL LOUISIANA - Baton Rouge, LA COAST ALLIANCE - Washington, DC COASTAL BEND BAYS FOUNDATION - Corpus Christi, TX CYPRESS SWAMP TOUR - Westwego, LA DEEP SOUTH CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE - New Orleans DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE - Washington, DC DELGADO GREENS - New Orleans, LA DELTA LAND TRUST - Madison, MS EARTHSHORES FOUNDATION - Bay St. Louis, MS ENDANGERED SPECIES COALITION - St. Petersburg, FL ENVIRONMENTAL COALITION OF MISSISSIPPI - Madison, MS ENVIRONMENTAL CONFEDERATION OF SOUTHWEST FLA - Sarasota, FL ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE - Austin, TX FRIENDS OF THE FENHOLLOWAY RIVER - Salem, FL GALVESTON BAY CONSERVATION & PRESERVATION - Seabrook, TX GULF COAST ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE - Gulf Breeze, FL GULF ISLAND CONSERVANCY, INC. - Biloxi, MS HELP OUR POLLUTED ENVIRONMENT - Salem, FL INFORMED CHOICES - Slidell, LA LAFAYETTE PARISH BAYOU VERMILION DISTRICT - Lafayette, LA LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS - New Orleans, LA LONE STAR SIERRA CLUB - Austin, TX LOUISIANA BUCKET BRIGADE - New Orleans, LA LOUISIANA ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION NETWORK - Baton Rouge, LA LOUISIANA WILDLIFE FEDERATION - Baton Rouge, LA MISSISSIPPI RIVER BASIN ALLIANCE - New Orleans, LA MISSISSIPPI WILDLIFE FEDERATION - Ridgeland, MS MOBILE BAY WATCH/MOBILE BAYKEEPER - Mobile, AL NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY LIVING OCEANS PROGRAM - Islip, NY OCEAN CONSERVANCY - St. Petersburg, FL PELICAN AUDUBON COUNCIL - New Orleans, LA REEFGUARDIAN INTERNATIONAL - Miami, FL RESTORE - Longville, LA SIERRA CLUB, ALABAMA CHAPTER - Theodore, AL SIERRA CLUB, DELTA CHAPTER - Ponchatoula, LA SIERRA CLUB, FLORIDA CHAPTER - St. Petersburg, FL SIERRA CLUB, MISSISSIPPI CHAPTER - Jackson, MS SIERRA CLUB NATIONAL - San Francisco, CA TAMPA AUDUBON SOCIETY - Tampa, FL TURTLE COVE RESEARCH STATION - Hammond, LA U.S. PIRG, GULF STATES FIELD OFFICE - New Orleans, LA WETLANDS WATCH - Pass Christian, MS
Page 6

Founded in 1994, the Gulf Restoration Network is a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the resources of the Gulf Region, forever protecting it for future generations. Board of Directors
Casi Callaway Mobile Bay Watch/Mobile Baykeeper Mobile, AL Mark Davis—Chair Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Baton Rouge, LA Robert Hastings Alabama Natural Heritage Program Montgomery, AL Rose Johnson—Vice-Chair Concerned Citizens Coalition Gulfport, MS Joe Murphy Sierra Club Tampa, FL Juan Parras TSU Law Clinic Houston, TX Bob Schaeffer Public Policy Communications Sanibel, FL Page Williams Sierra Club—Lone Star Chapter Houston, TX Robert Wiygul—Acting Secretary/ Treasurer Waltzer and Associates Biloxi, MS

Staff
Cynthia Sarthou: Executive Director Amy Gill: Director of Operations Vicki Murillo: Director for Water Resources Briana Kerstein: Outreach Coordinator Aaron Viles: Fisheries Campaign Director Marianne Cufone: Fisheries Consultant

DECEMBER 2004

Network Notebook: New Literature and Reports
Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. (Cambridge University Press, 2004). This report investigates the impacts of climate change on the Arctic and explores the global implications. Some of the issues, such as sea level rise, could directly impact the Gulf’s fragile coastal areas. The report can be downloaded from http://amap.no/acia/ The following are new documents available from the National Service Center for Environmental Publications. They are available by mail at U.S. EPA/NSCEP, P.O. Box 42419, Cincinnati, OH 45242; by phone at 1-800-490-9198; or online at http://www.epa.gov/ncepihom/index.htm: • • • • • • Cherish Wetlands {Magnet} (EPA#843E03006) Fact Sheet: Constructed Treatment Wetlands (EPA#843F0313) Fact Sheet: Wetlands and West Nile Virus (EPA# 843F04010) Technical Components of State and Tribal Bioassessment Programs (EPA# 822F03009) Thirstin’s Drinking Water Games and Activities {K-12} {CD ROM} (EPA #816C04008) Water on Tap: What You Need to Know {CD ROM} (EPA# 816C04006)

GRN Action Alert list:
To stay updated on upcoming regional events, critical actions on Capitol Hill, and opportunities for public comment, join the GRN listserv by e-mailing [email protected] or visiting groups.yahoo.com.

Calendar of Events
DECEMBER 2004 6-7 13-16 20th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference. Everglades Land and Congress on Building Capacity for Coastal Water: Preserve Now to Restore Forever. Solutions. Hosted by the Renewable Natural Naples, Florida. For more info, call Resources Foundation. American 954-942-3113. Geophysical Union headquarters, Washington, DC. For more info, contact 25 Seventh Biennial State of the Bay SympoRyan Colker at 301-493-9101 or go to sium. Downtown Aquarium, Houston, TX. http://www.rnrf.org/2004cong. For more info, visit

http://www.gbep.state.tx.us/newsFirst National Conference on Ecosystem events/symposium.asp. Restoration. Wyndham Palace, Orlando, FL. Visit http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/ecosystem/ FEBRUARY 2005 for more information. 12-15 Clean Water Week. Hosted by the Clean Water Network in Washington, DC. For 13-17 SEDAR (Southeast Data, Assessment and more info, contact Josh Klein at 202-289Review) Meeting on Red Snapper. Miami, 2421, or [email protected]. FL. Contact: [email protected]. 6-10 JANUARY 2005 10-13 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Meeting. Sheraton, Baton Rouge, LA. Contact: [email protected].
Volume 8, Issue 4

MARCH 2005 7-10 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Meeting. Wynfrey Hotel, Birmingham, AL. Contact: [email protected].
Page 7

United for a Healthy Gulf

P.O. Box 2245 New Orleans, LA 70176 Phone: (504) 525-1528 Fax: (504) 525-0833 Website: www.gulfrestorationnetwork.org

The GRN would like to thank the following foundations for making this newsletter, as well as the work of the GRN, possible: The Belvedere Fund, The Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, The Booth-Bricker Foundation, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation, The Greater New Orleans Foundation, The Joe W & Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, the Regional Marine Conservation Project, and The RosaMary Foundation.

PARTICIPATE IN THE GRN FORUM AND 10TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY!
A HEALTHY FUTURE FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO: How we get there from here.
Saturday, December 4, 2004 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. GRN 10th Anniversary Party immediately following Forum! University of South Florida – St. Petersburg Campus Florida Center for Teachers, Room 118 St. Petersburg, Florida Dr. Frank Muller-Karger, who serves on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, will be our keynote speaker. He will discuss the release of the commission's final report, "An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century," which highlights the problems plaguing our oceans and the specific solutions that must be adopted. Dr. Muller-Karger is a biological oceanographer and professor at the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, where he directs the Institute for Marine Remote Sensing. Learn how you can join our fight for a healthy gulf! Breakout sessions will highlight important issues of water quality, the Louisiana coastal crisis, the GRN "Every Fish Counts" campaign, and the push to reform the fisheries management councils. Help the GRN celebrate our 10th anniversary of working to protect and preserve the Gulf of Mexico. Return the enclosed registration form and join us to celebrate our greatest successes and our continued efforts toward a healthy gulf.

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