AmeriCorps Does Good Work For Gulf, More Planned For Next Month
Bagging 4,000 Gulf Saver Bags in two days to help restore Louisiana wildlife habitat and wetlands damaged by the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill is the next challenge for 20 AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) Members from the Vicksburg, Mississippi campus October 12 – 13, 2011.This is an initiative of Restore the Earth Foundation, Inc. (REF).
“NCCC is excited about providing the manpower of NCCC Corps Members to help in this initiative. Environmental stewardship and disaster response are two focus areas where NCCC members are making a significant impact in communities,” said Jen Prall, assistant program director at the NCCC Southern Region campus.
In cooperation with nature, Gulf Saver Bags re-introduce native vegetation to accelerate the recovery process in the Gulf Coast’s oil-damaged ecosystems and habitats. The Gulf Saver Bag is a biodegradable package of native marsh grasses with its own supply of totally natural nutrients and billions of oil eating micro-organisms to support, feed and protect the marsh grasses, promoting survival and growth to stabilize and restore the ecosystems and habitats. The bags support maximum plant growth, and survivability in the face of storm surge, saltwater, rapid erosion and potential oil saturation.
“We are so grateful to have the support of AmeriCorps NCCC to help us TAKE ACTION to restore Louisiana's critically challenged wetland and wildlife ecosystems. Together we can make a difference,” said Leslie Carrere of Restore the Earth Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization out of New York, that has been successfully coordinating this wetland restoration initiative with volunteers since December 2010.
NCCC is working with REF to fill 4,000 Gulf Saver Bags at the Whitetail Oil Services Marina that will be transported by barge to the planting site at Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Venice LA. This site is part of a major wildlife habitat and flyway at the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was severely impacted when an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico from April to July 2010 from the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
When deployed in shallow waters, the marsh plants’ root systems begin to develop. Within three months, the bags decompose, allowing the roots to expand into the existing sediment and hold together, protect and restore the wetlands. November 7-11, volunteers from California, in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and other local community supporters, will plant the 4000 Gulf Saver bags that were filled by NCCC.
REF partners with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWLF). LDWLF and Dr. Don Blancher, Sustainable Ecosystems Restoration have been monitoring the progress and impact of the Gulf Saver Bags. LDWF and Dr. Blancher have reported very positive results and identified multiple additional sites for Gulf Saver Bags restoration.
Restore the Earth Foundation, Inc.’s (REF) mission is “to be the Catalyst for Environmental Conservation, Protection, Restoration, Awareness and Stewardship through Collaborative Partnerships.” They focus on a proactive and practical approach, combining innovative all-natural solutions, partnerships and volunteerism. For more information on REF, visit www.restoretheearth.org.
AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based, 10-month, residential national service program for men and women ages 18-24. Corps Members are organized into teams of 10-12 members and serve in the region’s local communities in areas related to disaster services; environmental stewardship; energy conservation; and, urban and rural development; and, infrastructure improvement. There are five campuses in the U.S. Members receive housing, meals, uniforms, a living allowance, a $5550 education award, training in volunteer management and leadership, and valuable work skills. For more information, visit www.americorps.gov/nccc.