NOAA announces Walter B. Jones awards for coastal and ocean management excellence
June 26, 2012
The late Peter M. Douglas, longtime head of the California Coastal Commission, leads the list of the 2012 Walter B. Jones and NOAA Excellence in Coastal and Ocean Management award winners announced today. Douglas received the Walter B. Jones Coastal Steward of the Year Award in honor of his many contributions to coastal management in California.
“I am especially pleased to honor this year’s award winners, especially Coastal Steward of the Year, the late Peter M. Douglas, who was a coastal management pioneer and former head of the California Coastal Commission,” said Margaret Davidson, acting director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. “Peter was a legend in California’s coastal history and his legacy today is a model for others who follow.”
Douglas served California for 40 years including 26 years as executive director of the state’s coastal commission. He was a key force in the establishment of both the California Coastal Zone Act and Coastal Commission, as well as in drafting the original regulations implementing the federal act. Douglas passed away on April 1, and was made aware of the honor shortly before he died.
Given every two years, the Jones Awards recognize individuals and organizations for their dedication and outstanding contributions in helping the nation maintain healthy coastal and ocean resources, and balance the conservation of these resources with human needs. Winners are selected in three important award categories: Coastal Steward of the Year, Excellence in Local Government, and Excellence in Coastal and Marine Graduate Study.
The awards were created to honor the late 11-term congressman Walter B. Jones of North Carolina. As chairman of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, Jones was a strong supporter of NOAA and its coastal zone management and Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. He provided leadership on numerous legislative initiatives addressing coastal and ocean issues such as commercial shipping, oil spill clean-up and prevention, and flood insurance reform.
The winners of the 2012 Walter B. Jones Awards for Excellence in Coastal and Ocean Management are listed below.
Coastal Steward of the Year: Peter M. Douglas
Excellence in Local Government: Awarded to local governments that have inspired positive change in the field of coastal management by developing or implementing principles embodied by the Coastal Zone Management Act.
- Port of Anacortes, Wash.: The port of Anacortes is being recognized for its innovative approach to restoring the area’s waterfront resources. Its waterfront, having been devastated from historical industry uses, is now cleaner, safer, and more accessible to the community and provides much needed habitat for terrestrial and aquatic species.
- City of Morro Bay, Calif.: Morro Bay’s vision and commitment for the protection of its historic fishing industry and vibrant harbor, while facilitating innovation at the local level, have earned it this recognition. The city developed a strategic plan aimed at economic, social, and environmental sustainability in the Morro Bay fisheries and has successfully built a community fishing association capacity.
- City of Naples, Fla.: Naples is being recognized for implementing its plan to become the “Green Jewel of Southwest Florida” through the conception, design, and conduct of numerous key projects to improve the environmental health of the area while completing a variety of restoration projects using volunteers and innovative methods.
- Town of Plymouth, N.C.: Located in a region that has been described as the state’s environmental crown jewel, Plymouth’s accomplishments include addressing infrastructure through encouraging new partnerships and increasing local knowledge to address issues facing the town, including changing climate, developing clean energy, and creating new jobs.
Excellence in Coastal and Marine Graduate Study: Recognizes graduate students whose academic study promises to contribute to the development of new or improved approaches to coastal or ocean management.
- Michelle Brodeur, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill: Michelle Brodeur’s research focuses on more effective ecosystem-based management of oyster reef communities. Using the Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve as a backdrop, Brodeur’s work focuses on how climate change will interact with other ecosystem-level stressors to affect the resiliency of oyster reefs.
- Michelle Covi, East Carolina University: Michelle Covi’s graduate work investigates communication, policy, and planning relating to the effects of severe weather, sea level rise, and other climate and climate change related events on coastal North Carolina. The research is addressing the significant need for citizen education, collaborative planning, and effective policy.
- Jennifer Cudney-Burch, East Carolina University: Jennifer Cudney-Burch’s research has taken a novel approach to the issue of spiny dogfish management along the U.S. East Coast and Canada. Cudney-Burch has used a combination of traditional mark and recapture techniques, acoustic tagging, and direct work with fishermen to understand both spiny dogfish behavior and the commercial fishing community’s approach to avoiding the species when they are not in season. She is contributing to wise management and knowledge of this key source of winter income for many in the mid-Atlantic region.
- Timothy Ellis, North Carolina State University: Tim Ellis’s research focuses on spotted seatrout, an economically important fishery subject to winter kills, which have the potential to influence their vulnerability to anthropogenic activities. In particular, he has been able to estimate population level demographic rates of spotted seatrout, a necessary piece of information to effectively manage and protect this resource from overfishing. Data gathered through his research were considered by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries in making decisions about bag and size limits in early 2011.
- Rachel Kelley Gittman, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill: Rachel Gittman’s research is conducting integrated physical-biological assessments of successes and failures of bulkheads and marsh sills in protecting shorelines from erosion and sustaining coastal habitats. Measuring changes in shoreline will contribute to improving management of critical estuarine habitat by determining how alternative types of shoreline stabilization techniques influence the provision of ecosystem services.
- Melissa Keywood, University of Virginia: Melissa Keywood’s research supports coastal community adaptation initiatives to climate change and sea level rise. Through a series of successful listening sessions held in Virginia Beach, her subsequent project is helping coastal communities in Virginia Beach, and Virginia’s Gloucester County and Eastern Shore prepare for and adapt to climate change and sea level rise.
- Katie Laakkonen, Florida Gulf Coast University: Katie Laakkonen is merging her City of Naples environmental specialist responsibilities with graduate research focusing on key restoration activities occurring in Naples Bay. Under her direction, the design and implementation of water quality sampling, seagrass bed monitoring, and mangrove and oyster restoration activities are generating science-based data so that Naples can improve its management and restoration planning efforts.
- Matthew McCarthy, University of North Carolina—Wilmington: Matthew McCarthy’s research project investigates the use of new satellite imagery products in mapping coastal habitats in the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve. This research aims to identify which types of imagery and which techniques can provide the highest level of mapping accuracy. Once the final maps are completed, an analysis will be conducted to identify how habitats have changed through time.
- Katherine Sherman, Oregon State University: Kate Sherman’s research supports Oregon’s Territorial Sea Plan amendment process for renewable energy. The project includes conducting and summarizing basic research; survey design, preparation and conduct; database design; GIS data development; and outreach and education. Kate’s research inventory can be used as a model for inventorying research occurring in those areas that are being considered by other states as they develop marine spatial planning strategies.
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