STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that Volkert, Inc. of Mobile, Alabama will receive a Gulf Guardian Award for 2011 in the Business Category for their Little Bay Finfish and Shellfish Recovery project. The Awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Meeting on August 3, 2011, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place in New Orleans.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s waves and storm surge crossed the Mississippi Sound as far north as Little Bay, just west of Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The hurricane eroded and breached a small peninsula south of Little Bay that protected sea grasses, oyster reefs, and extensive salt marsh habitat to the north. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources developed the Finfish and Shellfish Nursery Habitat Restoration Program to identify and implement coastal restoration techniques. Volkert was assigned the Little Bay Project in 2008. Volkert provided their client and partner, turn-key services including planning, design, permitting, bidding, and construction management. As the largest coastal restoration project in Alabama, it presented major challenges of no land access, shallow bottom, and high energy wave conditions. State-of-the-art engineering technology, site-specific adaptation, and ingenuity were used to achieve the goals. Development of a Wave Attenuation Devise (WADs) permeable segmented breakwater was an essential task in the overall project success. The WADs provided a solution that could be installed from barges in a high energy environment. They were designed to remain stable during a storm surge and provide sufficient wave calming effects. As constructed, the breakwater allows for biological and hydrological exchange with Mississippi Sound. This exceptional project not only corrects serious ongoing environmental degradation, but also demonstrates how engineered structures can provide habitat protection and creation for the overall good of the environment. The Little Bay Finfish and Shellfish Recovery project serves as a model for similar type restoration and protection projects.
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 awards are given in seven categories: individual, business, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts.
“I applaud this year’s Gulf Guardian winners for their environmental leadership and commitment to protecting and restoring one of our nation’s most treasured natural resources, the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf Guardians are true environmental stewards and protectors of this vital ecosystem,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming.
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.
Gloria Car, Acting Director of the Gulf of Mexico Program said, “This is the 11th 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 partnership of the Gulf of Mexico Program works to improve the environmental health of the Gulf, and the Gulf Guardian Awards is an important way for us to recognize these valuable efforts. The 2011 award winners truly exemplify the enthusiastic and committed citizens, communities, governments, and businesses who address complex problems to improve, protect, and sustain our regional and national treasure, the Gulf of Mexico.