Thursday, 24 August 2017 00:00


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"Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana" cited as Best Practice in findings by
The Association of State Wetland Managers
 Baton Rouge, LA - Success of programs by the America's WETLAND Foundation to inform the nation  and build public awareness and support for wetland restoration is cited in a new report issued by  The Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM). Wetland managers across America are facing  the daunting task of addressing coastal land loss and see the report as an important mechanism to  augment their work to engage the public and important coastal interests on serious consequences that  arise with eroding coastlines and wetlands.
 Ten case studies were selected for inclusion in the study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection  Agency in a grant to ASWM. The America's WETLAND Foundation in Louisiana, which includes the  Mississippi River Delta region, was the only study area from the U.S. south. Other areas included: New  Mexico, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, Great Lakes region, Washington State, Canadian Provinces,  Delaware and New Hampshire.
 According to the Report, "The work of the America's WETLAND Foundation is both unique and  replicable. The uniqueness of the project is the state-led initiative to help create a private foundation  that would serve as a strong, third-party voice that supported funding and restoration efforts by the  state. The case study is valuable to other states by providing an example of what is possible when  resources are made available and by providing seasoned advice and models that are applicable to  wetland outreach efforts, regardless of budget or location. The Foundation offers access to many  resources that can be adapted for use elsewhere." 
 "One of the inspirations for creating AWF was so that our work and solutions could be replicable," said  AWF managing director, Val Marmillion. "For Louisiana to be a leader in restoration, we had to first tell  the story about the value of our region to gain national and state support. The Foundation used  research and use of metaphors like "losing the equivalent of a football field of land each hour" to grab  public attention on the seriousness of Louisiana's land loss challenge. With public awareness of the  coastal crisis hovering around 20% in 2002 when the AWF public awareness campaign began, the  foundation's awareness strategies saw voter support for wetland issues rise in five years to above  80%, with three constitutional amendments passed to ensure funds for coastal restoration and  protection would be dedicated to that purpose by the state of Louisiana."
Panel Presentation at AWF's Delta Conference in Viet Nam
 "The remarkable thing about this effort is  the outcome of both support in Louisiana  and awareness  nationally about the  relationship of healthy wetlands to secure  communities and a healthy economy,"  said Sidney Coffee, senior advisor to  AWF. "The Foundation has been able to  beat the drum so loudly  that Louisiana is  now seen as the epicenter for solutions  that will come to impact coastal states and  regions across America and the world."  Coffee helped lead the creation of  Louisiana's Coastal  Protection and  Restoration Authority, serving under  Governors Foster and Blanco. "We had little public  recognition at the beginning for the magnitude of  the crisis," Coffee said. "The Governor's Coastal  Commission issued a report in 2001 saying that  public support must be built so AWF was created as  an independent foundation representing  key stakeholder interests. Its laser focus has never been  political and professional communications  and marketing techniques have been utilized through private  funding to support the public interest."
 The report finds that, since its inception, AWF has implemented programs at the local, state, regional,  national and international levels, hosting two World Delta Dialogues in New Orleans and Viet Nam, five  Mississippi River Leadership Forums with key stakeholders along the River and its tributaries in  Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans and over fifty conferences and summits to  grow knowledge about wetland challenges and create innovative approaches and incentives for private  sector projects that  alignment with Louisiana's Coastal Master Plan. Following Hurricanes Katrina and  Rita, AWF was activated to triage new stories from the state and the relationship of wetland loss to the  disasters was a prime part of the stories coming from New Orleans and Southwest Louisiana.  
 Following the BP oil spill, AWF was first to release a report of voluntary initiatives that energy sectors  could support to prevent future spill incidents. The Foundation also organized industry into the  America's Energy Coast Leadership Council to host a series of eleven Gulf Coast forums to    understand the impact of sea level rise and the economic damage it could do to communities and  coastal infrastructure. The forums helped coastal communities from Texas to Florida envision the future  and the actions needed to sustain their environments, economies and the communities, themselves.
 The foundation is the recipient of more than 100 national awards and commendations for its  communications programs.
Here's the Press Release from Association of State Wetlands Managers about the new report.
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