Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 
Greetings from Christian and Dustin
Greetings from Christian and Dustin

In the last couple of months, Gulf Restoration Network has been sad to say goodbye to some members of our team, and happy to welcome new folks.

In August, Jordan Macha, GRN’s Gulf Policy Analyst ended her time with the GRN. Jordan was lead on all things post-BP restoration. Although we will miss her, we congratulate her on becoming Executive Director of Bayou City Waterkeeper and look forward to working with her in that capacity! With the recent devastation of Hurricane Harvey, her work as a Waterkeeper in the Houston area is more important than ever.

We were also saddened by the departure in June of Shona Clarkson, GRN’s Communications Director. However, we are excited to welcome Dustin Renaud as our new Communications Director. Dustin was born and raised in...

 

 

This blog series has covered a variety of corals that live in the Gulf of Mexico. These corals are an amazing natural resource for the Gulf, but they are also under threat. Right now, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is considering extending new protections to 15 deepwater coral sites in the Gulf. An additional eight areas were identified as unique or important sites, but were not given any fishing regulations which would protect the corals - the logic being a lack of regulations due to a lack of current fishing efforts.

Many of the images used in this blog series have come from expeditions in the Gulf that is exploring these sites. More images of deep sea corals may be coming soon as there is currently an expedition off the Florida coast - live footage can be found...

 

Before Congress went on recess, Rep. Graves and Sen. Cassidy, both of Louisiana, introduced identical bills in the House and the Senate nicknamed the RED SNAPPER Act of 2017 - a coy acronym for the bills’ significantly lengthier full name: Regionally Empowered Decision-making for Snapper, Noting the Angling Public and the Preservation of an Exceptional Resource Act (H.R. 3588).

The bills propose extending states’ power to regulate the recreational red snapper fishery out to 25 miles or 25 fathoms, whichever is greater, while leaving commercial and charter-for-hire regulations as they are, in the hands of the federal government past the 9 mile mark.

One reason the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fish Service (NMFS) were established was to eliminate the need for exactly what is being proposed by Rep. Graves and others. The...

 

 

 

The Gulf Coast is no stranger to hurricanes, and we are well-versed in helping our neighbors recover. Hurricane Harvey is proving to be an unprecedented storm that is going to take a lot of effort from many individuals and organizations to fully recover. While search and rescue efforts are ongoing and will be for several days, there are many ways you can help worthwhile organizations who are doing great work right now. We’ve assembled a list of organizations who need your help. Many first response organizations are already on the ground and need financial donations, supplies, or volunteers. There is a way for everyone to help!

We have put together a list of organizations that are helping the most vulnerable populations in the area: children, abandoned pets, the disabled, and partners focused on environmental justice. Please take a moment and support our coastal...

 

Sea pens (order Pennatulacea), with around 300 species, can be found as deep as 20,000 feet in almost all oceans.  Generally found in large fields, this order is one of few to have species in the frigid waters surrounding Antarctica. Having varying appearances, sea pens can range in color from orange to yellow to white, with some capable of emitting a bright greenish light when stimulated.

These octocorals, related to sea whips and sea fans , have a unique form - their central stalk, known as the primary polyp, is a modified polyp that has lost its tentacles and developed a water-filled bulb at its base to anchor the animal (image, left). Secondary polyps branch from the primary polyp and have specialized functions including capturing food, reproducing, and ventilating the colony by controlling water flow. This trait...

 
Flooding in the French Quarter
Deluge rain events have brought flooding to New Orleans neighborhoods twice in the last month.

 

"If a little rain can flood us, what will a hurricane do?" – Public Comment, City Council Meeting

Public confidence in New Orleans’ ability to manage stormwater has eroded in the wake of the latest Gulf Deluge. From Houston to Acadiana, from Livingston to St. Petersburg, bad governance worsens natural risks of flood water damaging residents’ property. As the past two weeks have unfolded, it has become more and more apparent that the institutions and infrastructure that are supposed to protect New Orleanians from flooding are both in need of a dramatic overhaul.

 

  • On July 22nd, there was flash flooding in Mid-City and Lakeview. Rain soaked Gentilly.

 

  • ...
 

Sea fans, sea whips and bamboo coral are all members of the order Alcyonacea, one of three orders of octocoral. There are many other types of coral in this order, but these three are common and interesting deep sea dwelling organisms. Keeping all these corals straight can be confusing because this same order was previously known as Gorgonacea, so corals in the order are commonly referred to as gorgonian corals. 
 
Alcyonacea most commonly occur as branching corals that look like plants, with a main trunk and branching stems (left (white), with an orange crinoid). Ranging from large fleshy masses to smaller feathered-pen-looking organisms, this family of corals is among the most diverse of deep sea corals and are united by having bony skeletons.
 
There are a number of sites in the Gulf that have uniquely...

 
Do not let Trump kill the Clean Water Rule

Trump's EPA is trying to remove valuable protections for our rivers, streams, and wetlands!

The Clean Water Rule provides common sense protections for streams and wetlands across the country. It protects drinking water sources for nearly 1 in 3 Americans. It protects wetlands throughout the nation that filter pollutant, absorb floodwaters, dampen storm surge and provide habitat for countless wildlife. It was a no-brainer supported by millions of Americans and backed by science. 

But that is all at risk nowTake action to protect our water.

The Trump administration wants to roll back these protections.  We can't let that happen. Make your voice heard - send a message to EPA today. Tell Administrator Scott Pruitt: Hands off our water.

Clean Water is essential to human health, vital to healthy communities, and necessary for a robust economy.  We rely on these small streams for drinking water and these wetlands...

 
Pearl River
An aerial view of the Pearl River. Photo Credit: Bonny Schumaker, On Wings of Care.

This article is excerpted from the Summer 2017 issue of Gulf Currents, GRN's bi-annual printed newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here

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GRN advocates for the Pearl River’s restoration and against further damming. The proposal to build a 1500-acre flood control lake on the Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi has been in the study stage since 2013. In summer 2017, we expect feasibility studies and a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the “One Lake” project to be published. The project poses risks to habitats and to the health of the Pearl River downstream of Jackson. There is already a large dam on the Pearl River, impounding the Ross Barnett Reservoir, upstream from Jackson. Further channel modifications from a second lake include dredging the river deeper and wider, filling 1000 acres of floodplain wetlands, and blocking flow with a weir south of Interstate...

 

The August 5th flooding was rough on many New Orleanians - with floodwaters swamping homes, cars and businesses. Our thoughts go out to those who are still dealing with the aftermath. And more flooding could be on the way - stay safe.

This week, the City Council met to try to figure out what happened and what we do now. Several city officials have since stepped down or been fired. This is what we do now: demand accountability and innovation from our city’s current and future leaders.

This massive flood event is wake up call. The system is broken, it must be fixed. We have a system that is focused only on pumping...

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Recent Posts

Mississippi’s second annual Restoration Summit convened on Tuesday Nov. 14th so the state could announce...
Written by Andrew Whitehurst
Wednesday, 15 November 2017
The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing this month to discuss the fate of...
Written by Marley Vebares
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
And the hurricanes just kept coming… In finishing my first full month on the job...
Written by Christian Wagley
Tuesday, 24 October 2017
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met the first week of October in Biloxi,...
Written by Kendall Dix
Friday, 20 October 2017
Flood control alternatives, including the “One Lake” project for the Pearl River in Jackson, have...
Written by Andrew Whitehurst
Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Santa Rosa Island is a gem along Florida’s Panhandle coast, with 52 miles of white...
Written by Christian Wagley
Thursday, 21 September 2017
Residents in East Biloxi continue to face unbearable living conditions due to a fiasco of...
Written by Howard Page
Wednesday, 20 September 2017

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