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FGCU Oyster Restoration Project Team Honored With National Award from Coastal Preservation Group
3/21/2007

FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University invites the media to attend an award ceremony 10 a.m. Thursday, April 5 in the Student Union ballroom to honor the FGCU program, "Community-based Restoration of Oyster Reefs in Southwest Florida," with a national award from Coastal America Partnership for leadership in guiding public restoration of oyster reefs in Southwest Florida estuaries. FGCU Interim President Richard Pegnetter and deputy assistant secretary for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, Timothy R.E. Keeney will present the award.

The program, headed by associate professor of marine science Aswani Volety, is one of four projects honored by Coastal America with a 2006 Partnership Award, which recognizes exceptional teamwork in restoring and protecting our nation's coasts.

FGCU worked in collaboration with the Lee County School District, Florida Sea Grant, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program and South Florida Water Management District to direct numerous community volunteers. In the past four years, 23 oyster reefs were constructed by FGCU scientists and volunteers. In addition, several volunteers participated in oyster gardening, where residents living along the canals and the estuary in the brackish water portion raised young oysters to seed the oyster reefs.

Workers built and repaired oyster reefs at strategic points in the Charlotte Harbor-Everglades watershed where they would attract natural oyster larvae and eventually form reefs. Marine biologists agree oyster reefs are vital to water and provide habitat to more than 300 marine species.

"The community-based oyster restoration effort not only restores and enhances ecologically important resources, oyster reefs, but also involves the public in environmental restoration and education. We could not have done the project without the community help," Volety said.

The foundation of this oyster restoration effort is built upon partnerships and community support. The restoration goals have been effectively combined with community education and awareness. In turn a project has been created that community members have taken ownership of and have learned the value of coastal restoration and protection.

The project was funded in part by Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Coastal Watershed Institute, FGCU, South Florida Water Management District, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Fish America Foundation.

Coastal America is a partnership of federal agencies, state and local governments and private organizations established to protect, preserve and restore U.S. coastal watersheds.

For more information, media representatives should contact Volety at (239) 590-7216 or avolety@fgcu.edu.




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