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DALLAS – (April 27, 2022) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Division announced Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program as the winner of the Gulf Guardian Award for its Egery Flats Restoration Project. The project was designed to restore water flow to the Egery Flats system and reduce salinity to over 600 acres of marsh, seagrass and tidal flat habitat.

“The work of protecting and improving the Gulf of Mexico goes far beyond the coast, touching most of the Central U.S. through the Mississippi River basin,” said Regional Administrator Earthea Nance. “This year’s Gulf Guardian Award winners reflect the diverse ways people can help, and their passion for making a difference. Congratulations to the awardees and for all they do to protect this precious natural resource.”

“The Gulf of Mexico is a vulnerable ecosystem that requires innovative approaches and proactive measures to protect this national resource.  Over the past two years, the Gulf Guardian award winners have continued to think “outside of the box” during challenging circumstances due to COVID-19.  These Gulf Guardian Awards are an important way to recognize the valuable efforts of all their hard work to protect the environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Marc Wyatt, Director, Gulf of Mexico Division.

“It’s great to see the improved flow through the culverts connecting Egery Flats to the Copano Bay system,” said Adrien Hilmy, Project Manager for the CBBEP. “Not only will this increased water exchange improve the salinity levels, but it will also help increase the nutrient and sediment input into the marsh, creating a more productive and diverse ecosystem.”

The purpose of this project is to restore hydrology and reduce salinity in the Egery Flats marsh area, which has lost about 100 acres of emergent marsh in the past 60 years. Egery Flat is a 600-acre semi-enclosed basin near the confluence of the Aransas River and Copano Bay. To measure the success of the project, CBBEP worked with the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to collect valuable data. The data will help determine the effectiveness of the culvert replacement and success of the restoration project.

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. First, second and third place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts.

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.

For more information about the U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Division visit our webpage.

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