WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today presented a Partners in Conservation Award to the Flower Garden Banks Long-Term Monitoring program for their long-standing commitment to the protection of the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico, the northernmost coral reef communities in the western hemisphere.
It was one of 26 national awards to individuals and organizations presented at a ceremony at Interior headquarters in Washington, D.C. to honor “those who achieve natural resource goals in collaboration and partnership with others.”
The 26 Partners in Conservation Awards recognize conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of a total of 600 individuals and organizations including landowners; citizens' groups; private sector and nongovernmental organizations; and federal, state, local, and/or tribal governments.
“The Partners in Conservation Awards demonstrate that our greatest conservation legacies often emerge when stakeholders, agencies, and citizens from a wide range of backgrounds come together to address shared challenges,” the Secretary said. “It is a testament to the continued dedication of the individuals at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Minerals Management Service and in the private sector and academic communities that the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico are among the healthiest reefs not only in the Western Hemisphere, but in the world.”
The Garden Banks Long-Term Monitoring program is one of the longest, continuous, coral reef monitoring programs in the world. Monitoring and restrictions on nearby oil and gas exploration since the early 1970s, first by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and later in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have ensured that the health and resiliency of the reefs.
Located approximately 100 mi south of the Texas/Louisiana border and near the outer continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico, data sets collected by researchers from MMS and NOAA, along with the current contractor, PBS&J Environmental Sciences not only monitor the effects of oil and gas exploration but those of natural events such as hurricanes.
“These 26 awards recognize the dedicated efforts of thousands of people from all walks of life, from across our nation – and from across our borders with Canada and Mexico,” Salazar noted. “They celebrate partnerships that conserve and restore our nation's treasured landscapes and watersheds, partnerships that engage Native American communities, and partnerships that engage youth.”
The following groups and individuals share this Partners in Conservation Award:
Boston University Marine Program
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Richard B. Aronson
Ken J.P. Deslarzes
Minerals Management Service
Thomas E. Ahlfeld
Gregory S. Boland
James E. Sinclair
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Emma L. Hickerson
William F. Precht
PBS&J Ecological Sciences
Donald R. Deis