Newswise — The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (Alliance) received two 2019 Gulf Guardian Awards at a ceremony hosted by the EPA Gulf of Mexico Division in Gulfport, MS. The programs that were recognized are the regional Gulf Star public-private partnership, and Gulf Tree, an interactive decision-support tree to help users find climate tools.

Gulf Star, awarded second place in the partnership category, originated in 2016 as a program to address region-wide issues that are tied directly to the Gulf of Mexico economies. Now in the fourth year, it boasts over 50 projects with over $2.5 million of funding. The innovative public-private partnership provides a means for diverse partners to support common issues. Public contributors include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and most recently the Environmental Protection Agency; private contributors include Shell, Freeport McMoRan, BHP, Hess, Anadarko, Equinor, Chevron, and most recently Clean Gulf Associates.

Gulf Tree received second place in the partnership category. Administered by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, this project was managed by the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach and Resilience Community of Practice. The three partners recognized the need to provide climate tool guidance to stakeholders such as natural resources managers and community planners. Gulf Tree provides logical steps to easily navigate the myriad of tools available; allowing the user to find the ones most applicable to them. The project was funded, in part by the EPA, under an assistance agreement to the Alliance.

The EPA Gulf of Mexico Program developed the Gulf Guardian awards to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that take positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful, and productive. The awards exemplify innovative solutions that come about when partners pool resources and look for creative ways to positively impact our quality of life and economic well-being.

The two winning programs are exemplary ways the regional ocean partnership works around the Gulf of Mexico to accomplish impactful actions at the community level.