Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

Blogging for a Healthy Gulf
Harry Lowenburg
Menhaden: Most Important Fish?
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 15:08

bob williams noaa Pogies being pumped into industrial menhaden ship. Photo courtesy of Bob Williams/NOAA.

Help protect Gulf pogies by attending the public meeting of the Menhaden Advisory Committee Tuesday, March 18th, from 8:30 AM to Noon at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon St in New Orleans. These small forage fish are vacuumed up in vast quantities (on average over 1 billion pounds per year from the Gulf) by factory ships and then reduced in factories for farm feed and fish oils. Despite the concerns over how removing this important forage fish from the ecosystem impacts other species, there are few limits and little monitoring on the menhaden industry. Come to the meeting and tell the Gulf States Marines Fisheries Commission to pay more attention to the effects of this industry!

To RSVP, email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or go to our Facebook event.

Read more: Menhaden: Most Important Fish?
Andrew Whitehurst
Jackson For A Healthy Gulf
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:15

Jackson for healthy Gulf 2014 smaller Our third annual “Jackson for a Healthy Gulf” event happened Thursday, March 6th at Hal and Mal’s patio room in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. A diverse group of stalwart friends joined us on a cold, rainy March night and listened to GRN’s Executive Director, Cyn Sarthou, talk about GRN’s history and our work in Mississippi. Our audience ranged from Millsaps College students to birdwatching grandmothers. Cyn noted that 2014 marks GRN’s 20th year and touched on the challenges in funding the kind of work we do in Mississippi. Sometimes environmental advocacy voices in the state may appear to be spread a little thin, but this doesn’t indicate a lack of interest.

Mississippi is a beautiful state with many natural amenities that need nurturing and thoughtful planning rather than threats from poorly conceived development projects. The state and the Nature Conservancy began 37 years ago with the vision to buy and preserve lands along the Pascagoula River. Before the word “ecotourism” existed, the Pascagoula purchase set the stage for economically beneficial public use and for a growing national appreciation of this river and its swamp habitats in George and Jackson Counties. Conversely, an example of lack of vision in planning development projects is the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Drainage District’s regressive idea that the Pearl River needs another dam and a lake to control floods in the Jackson Metro area. The river downstream of Jackson has suffered from the disruptive effects of the Ross Barnett dam for 50 years. There are other alternatives for flood control that won’t make things markedly worse for downstream sections of the river.

Read more: Jackson For A Healthy Gulf
Sarah Holtz
Sunny cruise on the Mississippi Sound
Monday, 10 March 2014 13:28

Julia and Don sm The evening couldn’t have been more ideal for GRN’s annual Cruising for the Coast fundraiser last Sunday evening. Louis Skrmetta and his crew from Ship Island Excursions welcomed our guests aboard the Capt. Pete in Gulfport for a beautiful sunset cruise around the Mississippi Sound. We enjoyed a delicious spread of food, sipped Dark & Stormy cocktails, and even spotted a few dolphins! The party concluded with a raffle drawing and silent auction that featured an array of pieces from Gulf Coast artists, including Steve Shepard and Walter Anderson.

Our annual boat party is always a wonderful time, and in her welcoming remarks GRN’s Mississippi Organizer, Helen Rose Patterson, reflected on how being out on the Mississippi Sound reminds us all of the importance of protecting our natural resources on the Gulf Coast.

Thanks to our amazing host committee: Terese Collins, Cynthia and George Ramseur, Louis and Beth Skrmetta, Robert Wiygul and Julia Weaver, and Sheryl and Brick Gilliland for helping to make this event a success. For more photos, check out our Flickr page.
Lady on deck sm Party up top sm Ladies on deck sm Cat Island sunset sm

Sarah Holtz is GRN's Development Associate

Natasha Noordhoff
Take a sunset cruise for the Coast!
Friday, 28 February 2014 13:41

bow shot sm Now that Mardi Gras is over, I wanted to remind you of GRN's Cruising for the Coast fundraiser this Sunday in Gulfport, Mississippi. There will be beer from Lazy Magnolia, food from Bayview Gourmet and Tony's Brick Oven Pizzeria, and some amazing art in the raffle so buy your ticket while we still have spots left.

Sunday March 9
5-7:30 p.m.

Ship Island Excursions
Gulfport, MS

Your ticket includes an open bar (beer, wine, and a special cocktail!), food, and a sunset cruise. Reserve your seat today on the Capt. Pete and help GRN continue to protect and restore the Mississippi coast.

Tickets are $50 for one and $80 for two. RSVP here, and look forward to seeing you Sunday!

Natasha is GRN's Development Director

Andrew Whitehurst
Comments and Discord at Hattiesburg Hearing
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:58

Hattiesburg Groundworx Permit hearing 2 25 14 A public meeting on the Groundworx LLC wastewater land application permit was held at the Hattiesburg train depot on the evening of Tuesday February 25th. Around 85 people attended to hear MDEQ staff describe the draft permit for a new sewage treatment system that features no discharge to streams or rivers. Thirty people made verbal comments to the court reporter in attendance. I delivered GRN’s comments which were written for us by Tulane Environmental Law Clinic attorneys. Our comments focused on the need for more monitoring of soil suitability and water quality in both surface and ground water, the need for defining buffer zones around spray sites to protect public health, the lack of any operational procedures or operator qualifications in the permit, and the need for compliance with local floodplain ordinances. These deficiencies are all addressable before a final permit is presented to the MDEQ permit board.

Read more: Comments and Discord at Hattiesburg Hearing
Grace Morris
Coast or Coal?
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 16:50

This articles was excerpted from Gulf Currents, GRN's quarterly newsletter. To read the rest of the December 2013 edition of Gulf Currents, click here.

Grace and Warren Lawrence smaller Warren Lawrence of Mrytle Grove and GRN's Grace Morris set up air monitoring device.Louisiana is giving a coal export terminal – RAM Terminal, LLC – permission to pile hills of coal dust and traffic coal at the same location as the coastal master plan’s largest restoration project – the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion.

Coal export terminals release clouds of coal dust that cover homes, boats, cars, and coastal wetlands with a layer of black soot. Coal-carrying rail cars are uncovered and blow coal into the communities they traverse. Coal-carrying barges dump coal in the river. In short, coal export terminals create public health and environmental impacts every step of the way.

Through a public records request, GRN obtained a technical memorandum that was commissioned by Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) to see if constructing a coal export terminal at the mouth of the planned Mid-Barataria river restoration project would compromise restoration goals. The report found the RAM coal export terminal could reduce sediment, transfer coal pollution to marsh areas, and that the proximity of the coal facility to the river restoration project intake poses navigation, erosion and safety issues. 

Unfortunately, CPRA ignored the recommendations and wrote a special memorandum of agreement with RAM Terminal, LLC permitting its devastating coastal activity.

Read more: Coast or Coal?
Matt Rota
Protect the Pearl
Friday, 21 February 2014 13:52

ProtectThePearlActionAlertsmallerEven as the Pearl River struggles to recover from 2011’s massive fish kill, the paper mill behind this illegal killing of hundreds of thousands of fish is attempting to renew its permit to pollute. We must protect our waterways by telling the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) that we demand a more protective permit!

It is within our power as citizens to make sure that LDEQ adequately protects the Pearl. That is why we are asking you to send an email demanding the following improvements to the proposed permit:

• The mill must monitor for and have limits on all toxic and polluting chemicals that might be discharged from the mill.

• The mill must put in place an enforceable plan to systematically reduce the pollution that flows out of the mill.

• The mill must develop a stormwater plan that will be capable of withstanding a 100-year storm.

The Pearl River lives up to its name: it is a natural gem that is vital to the health, livelihoods, and happiness of so many residents of Louisiana and Mississippi. We can’t afford another disaster on the Pearl. Join us in asking the LDEQ to make the mill’s permit more protective—an important step in preserving the Pearl for generations to come.

Matt Rota is GRN's Senior Policy Director. 

Raleigh Hoke
GRN and Partners Call for Action on Dispersants
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 00:00

coast guard dispersant On February 5th, GRN and 62 other organizations sent a letter asking the Environmental Protection Agency to move swiftly to revise their current regulation of chemical dispersants. It's been thirteen years since the EPA first initiated a rulemaking to revise the rules for overseeing and testing of dispersants, and we are still waiting. The need for reform became tragically clear in 2010 during the BP drilling disaster, when nearly 2 million gallons of dispersants were released into the Gulf.

EPA needs to stop stalling on these revised dispersants rules. You can send you own letter to EPA urging them to take action by clicking here.

Raleigh Hoke is GRN's Communications Director. 

Scott Eustis
One Thousand Square Miles
Monday, 17 February 2014 23:29
And Louisiana's best science agrees with them. The 2012 Master Plan is head-and-shoulders the best science and engineering effort to keep Louisiana afloat, and perhaps one of the more honest climate adaption strategies around the world. 
And that plan outlines what is at stake: from One to Two Thousand Square Miles of Louisiana, should our government continue to stall on climate action. 
There is a difference between a future land loss of 770 sq miles if we act to limit carbon ("moderate" scenario) compared to 1750 sq miles lost if we continue with stalling and half-actions ("less optimistic" scenario).  
The Master Plan does not dare to outline the worst case sea level scenario ("High" or NRC III, pg 86) should no action be taken on climate, but I think we can assume that it is on the order of losing whatever is left --the "Sliver on the River" maps published by Blum and Roberts, that show New Orleans as a ringed island, engulfed in water as Ft Proctor is surrounded by Lake Borgne today . 
A destabilized climate makes a lot of predictions uncertain, but what is certain about Louisiana's future is how much there is to lose to inaction--at least One Thousand square miles of Louisiana, One Thousand square miles of Paradise. 
Scott Eustis is GRN's Coastal Wetland Specialist
Scott Eustis
Heal the Marsh --Fix the Flow, Fix the Canals
Monday, 17 February 2014 22:57
Backfilling unused canals can restore flows and marsh without impeding access--all it takes is the oil industry paying back a small part of its debt to our coast.  
While the state is focused on larger-scale projects, like restoring the river and dredged marsh creation, there are tens of thousands of acres of restoration in the Delta that backfilling unused canals can accomplish--if the state merely asks the industry to comply with the law, and to work with DNR OCM to restore lands the state seeks to sustain with the river. 
When the coastal management program was first conceived, Louisiana's Dept of Natural Resources required the industry to fix their damages. DNR stopped required backfilling of canals some time ago, despite many studies outlining the benefits, and requests by the Louisiana legislature to improve industry access techniques.
Read more: Heal the Marsh --Fix the Flow, Fix the Canals
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Page 6 of 102

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