From The Observer News (www.observernews.net)

Wandering Florida
Exciting developments with the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN)
By
Jun 21, 2007, 13:45

There are exciting developments with the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN).  To learn more about GRN you can visit the website at www.healthygulf.org
 With two board members from every Gulf of Mexico state, the GRN has long been the only conservation organization focused solely on the health of the entire Gulf of Mexico.  Physically based in New Orleans since the organization’s founding in 1994, the GRN has been able to be actively involved in Louisiana and Mississippi environmental issues such as water quality and wetlands protection, and regional issues such as fisheries management.





 GRN set a goal to expand our active, on the ground conservation work into Florida in 2006/2007 and that project is moving forward.  I’m very excited and honored to have taken a full-time position with GRN as their new Florida Programs Coordinator.  GRN now has an office in Florida as well, and we look forward to continuing our work with our Network Member Groups in Florida, as well as working with diverse and new partners committed to protecting the Gulf of Mexico.

 GRN is actively working in Florida on two key issues: Ecosystem/Habitat Preservation - One of the top priorities is our work with our allies across the Gulf in the Save Our Cypress Coalition (http://www.saveourcypress.org/) to stop the destructive logging of cypress forests.  Cypress forests provide habitat for listed species, provide flood protection, help ensure water quality, and are essential to healthy, vibrant natural systems.  GRN is pressuring Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Lowes to stop selling cypress mulch and instead provide  their customers with sustainable, environmentally friendly alternatives.

 They are also continuing the work to protect and preserve Florida’s Nature Coast.  GRN was involved in the recent successful coalition efforts to stop the Magnolia Bay development project’s proposal to dredge across a state seagrass preserve and destroy acres of coastal wetlands.  GRN is committed to protecting and preserving Florida’s Nature Coast which stretches from the Pasco/Hernando County region to Wakulla County in the Big Bend region.
 Healthy Waters - The Gulf Restoration Network works to protect and restore waters throughout the Gulf of Mexico that are critical to recreation, fisheries, wildlife habitat, and drinking water.

Despite much progress made under the Clean Water Act, many waters flowing into the Gulf remain polluted with fertilizers, pesticides, sewage, and other contaminants. In addition, high levels of bacteria from municipal sewage treatment plants and urban runoff force the closure of beaches throughout the Gulf. The GRN is working to end these water pollution problems through a multi-faceted approach that includes public education, empowerment of citizen groups, technical review of government policies, and legal action when necessary.

In Florida GRN will be working with our Network Member Groups and other conservation and community allies to create a Gulf wide scorecard to rate and review the job that Gulf states do in protecting water quality and implementing the Clean Water Act.  They are also producing a “Sewage Manual” that will provide community, coastal, stakeholder, and neighborhood groups with tools to protect water quality in their community.  This manual will help citizens understand, use, challenge, and improve the process that local and state government agencies use to manage and treat polluted water.  They’ll also be conducting on the ground, in community workshops for organizations who request one once the Sewage Manual is released to help them use the manual.

I’m very excited to be working for GRN after volunteering for them as a board member for the last four years!  I look forward to working with all of you to protect Florida’s Gulf Coast and the water bodies and wildlife that make the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico such an amazing and special place.  My new GRN contact information is at the end of the article and let’s work together soon for a healthy and vibrant Gulf of Mexico!

P.S. - If you’re e-mailing me regarding GRN please update your address book to my new GRN email address (joe@healthygulf.org).  My current email address (wildcritters99@aol.com) will continue to work to contact me as well for other projects and purposes.
Joe Murphy
Florida Program Coordinator
Gulf Restoration Network
joe@healthygulf.org
352-583-0870 (office)
813-468-0870 (cell)



© Copyright 2006 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing