Place-based conservation really hit home for me last week when I had the opportunity to visit the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (NMS). I was in Florida to participate in the Reserve’s State of the Coast meeting with federal, state, and local officials to discuss the latest coastal science and management issues.
Both the Rookery Bay NERR and the Florida Keys NMS provide world-class examples of place-based conservation. For instance, the staff members at the Reserve are leading a multidisciplinary team to understand and manage freshwater flows, which is a significant issue for the area. Through this project and others at Rookery Bay, the Reserve is helping individuals, businesses, and communities make decisions that are environmentally and economically sound.
Similarly, Florida Keys NMS established the Blue Star program to recognize charter boat operators committed to protecting the Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem. The operators support reef protection through the promotion of responsible snorkeling and diving practices. This is a highly effective way to provide targeted education to divers and snorkelers to decrease contact with reef habitat.
There are plenty of examples I could name, but the thread that runs through all of them is that place-based conservation connects individuals in a very personal way to the areas that we seek to protect. Both the Reserve and the Sanctuary made a lasting impression for me personally. I would like to thank the staff members from the Reserve and the Sanctuary for taking the time to show me around and share their challenges and success stories with me. I also appreciate the fact that the Sanctuary arranged a visit to the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Key West.
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator
Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management,
National Ocean Service
On May 19, the Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) was notified of a 24-inch pipeline rupture that occurred earlier in the day near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, California. OR&R is on the scene providing information on the fate and effects of the crude oil and potential environmental impacts both in the water and on the shore. In addition, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is supporting the Joint Information Center and has provided a vessel for use by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Learn more.
Two NOAA Physical Oceanographic Real Time Systems (PORTS®) recently went online in the Louisiana shipping hubs of the Port of Morgan City and Port Fourchon. PORTS® improve navigation safety and efficiency by giving mariners reliable real-time information about environmental conditions in seaports. These are the 24th and 25th systems to join the PORTS network. Morgan City is a recently established foreign trade destination, and serves as a gateway for goods and services to reach markets in 37 states. Port Fourchon is one of the nation’s busiest energy ports, servicing 90 percent of the deep-water Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry and handling more than 20 percent of the nation’s energy supply.
NGS is supporting the State of Hawaii’s new effort to dramatically modernize heights across the state, covering a total of approximately 1,001 miles with work to be completed over the next four to five years. Only four of the eight main Hawaiian Islands have any form of leveling, and no major leveling has been performed there since the early 1970s. Many of the state’s bench marks have also been lost due to construction, vandalism, and other factors. Of the original 341 bench marks on Oahu, for example, only 197 have been recovered. The processed leveling data will provide coastal managers with valuable information to revise emergency response efforts, floodplain mapping, and more. The data will be submitted to NGS for inclusion in the National Spatial Reference System.
NOAA recently released a Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment, which opened a public comment period, for the former coal tar processing facility adjacent to the Island End River in Everett, Massachusetts. From the 1890s to the late 1950s, coal tar produced from a manufactured gas plant was released to adjacent soil, groundwater, sediment, and surface water, including the tidally influenced Island End River. Tar deposits impacted aquatic habitat for bottom-dwelling organisms and fish in the river. As part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, the Plan identifies and evaluates a range of restoration alternatives to restore subtidal habitat and aquatic species that were significantly impacted from the long-term wastewater discharge. The preferred restoration project will restore salt marsh habitat to address injuries to fish species. NOAA will accept public comments through June 19, 2015.
OCS released six new nautical chart overlays of oil and gas lease blocks in the Gulf of Mexico. The overlays, which include all oil and gas lease blocks in the Gulf, provide coverage that extends beyond traditional lease block charts. Mariners are now able to see lease block boundaries relative to existing features depicted on underlying electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®). The overlays are compiled in the inland electronic navigational chart format and require users to have an electronic chart display and information system or electronic chart system that can ingest and display this specific format. Created from Bureau of Ocean Energy Management geographic mapping data, the overlays do not constitute the legal boundaries of official lease blocks and are for situational awareness only.
An NCCOS researcher outlined the benefits and limitations of living shorelines at a recent workshop for marine contractors, engineers, landscape architects, and land use planners. Unlike hardened shorelines such as metal or concrete sea walls, living shorelines use vegetation, sand fills, natural fiber logs, and oyster reefs to reinforce the shoreline and minimize erosion. This approach provides shoreline stabilization while creating wildlife habitat and maintaining natural shoreline dynamics. Workshop participants learned about the ecological importance of estuaries and natural shorelines, shoreline stabilization techniques, best practices for working with marsh plants and oyster shells, and the living shoreline permitting process. The workshop, held at NOAA’s Beaufort (North Carolina) Laboratory, was sponsored by the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve and the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.
Helpful tips to prevent disruptive behaviors from derailing meetings are now accessible via a smartphone or tablet. The Dealing with Disruptive Behaviors site describes an intervention strategy, facilitation guidelines, and tips for dealing with 10 common disruptive behaviors. The tips use a social scientific understanding of behavior motivation and note what is likely to productively re-engage the disruptive participant. Meeting participants can also look up strategies for redirecting unproductive meetings, even when there is no facilitator or disruptive behavior present.
NOS Acting Assistant Administrator
Dr. Russell Callender
Cathleen Barry’s adventures have taken her from scraping barnacles to a lifelong passion for the sea.
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