For the fourth year in a row, a regional partnership between the Gulf Ecological Management Sites (GEMS) Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Community-Based Restoration Program is inviting preproposals for habitat restoration projects.
The Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a nonprofit organization, manages the partnership funds and seeks projects that restore marine, estuarine and riparian habitats to benefit living marine resources and to provide educational and social benefits by significantly involving the community.
GEMS represent ecologically significant areas along the Gulf of Mexico, including several Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife management areas and state parks. TPWD GEMS sites include Candy Abshier WMA, Guadalupe Delta WMA, Matagorda Island WMA, Murphree WMA, Mustang Island State Park, and Sea Rim State Park. A complete list of Texas GEMS is online (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/water/conservation/txgems/).
GEMS include barrier island habitats, seagrass beds, saltwater marshes and swamps, freshwater marshes and swamps, tidal flats, oyster and other mollusk reefs, coral reefs and artificial reefs. Projects proposed within GEMS will be given priority for the Gulf of Mexico Community-Based Restoration Program Partnership funding.
Kay Jenkins, Texas State GEMS Coordinator and biologist with the TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division, represents GEMS located in Texas and promotes support for those 24 sites as a member of the partnership’s interagency steering committee that reviews and selects projects for funding.
“The Gulf of Mexico Community-Based Restoration Program Partnership represents a great opportunity for site managers, including federal, state, local governments and nonprofit organizations to apply for funds to implement coastal habitat restoration and educational programs,” Jenkins said, reminding applicants that a non-federal match is required for the funds.
Preproposals are due Sept. 24 and will be reviewed in October and full proposals will then be invited for selected projects. Projects are required to result in actual habitat restoration, not simply planning and engineering.
The GEMS Program is a 1991 initiative of the federal Gulf of Mexico Program (GMP) in partnership with the five Gulf of Mexico states. GEMS provides a regional framework to conserve ecologically important Gulf habitats. The Gulf of Mexico Program and the five participating states each support a GEMS manager to participate in and serve as a point-of contact for the program. These partners meet at least annually to exchange information and to formulate annual objectives to guide the program.
The GEMS Program now includes more than 100 unique habitat areas from Texas to Florida.