DOI Names Partners in Conservation Award Winners

The Flower Garden Banks' Long-Term Monitoring program won one of 26 national awards given by the Department of the Interior for "those who achieve natural resource goals in collaboration and partnership with others," according to a recent press release.

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,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “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 miles 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.

The award went to Boston University Marine Program, Les Kaufman, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Richard B. Aronson, Geo-Marine, Incorporated, 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, G.P. Schmahl, PBS&J Ecological Sciences, and Donald R. Deis.

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