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Daigle and Partners Receive Gulf Guardian Award

Melissa Daigle, Louisiana Sea Grant resiliency specialist, and partners recently received the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2022 Gulf Guardian 2nd Place Partnership Award.

Photo: Gulf Guardian Award 2022 Recipients

Daigle worked on the Resilience to Future Flooding project, led by Renee Collini at the Program for Local Adaptation to Climate Effects: Sea Level Rise (PLACE:SLR). The two-part project, which commenced in 2017 with funding from a NOAA Regional Coastal Resilience Grant and ended in January 2022, examined the northern Gulf region’s communication and financial barriers toward sea-level rise resilience. Other partners on the project were the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Climate and Resilience Community of Practice, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Mississippi State University, and University of Florida Extension.

“It is important for local governments to think about ways to become more resilient whether their community is experiencing flooding due to sea level rise, an increase in flooding from storm surge or flash flooding. Communities can learn from what their neighbors along the Gulf coast are doing,” said Daigle.

Communication barriers were addressed through several short films as well as case studies from coastal communities that have implemented projects to address flooding. “The videos are a great way to show local governments how other coastal communities have worked with limited resources to address issues related to flooding,” she said.

The second part of the project – providing funds directly to five additional communities for projects to increase flood resiliency – began in early 2019. The community projects are in Alligator Point, FL; Apalachicola, FL; Biloxi, MS; Magnolia Springs, AL and Santa Rosa County, FL. Those communities also captured their implementation process by creating video diaries, providing insight into the process in order to benefit other communities facing similar challenges.

“I hope other communities utilize the videos this project provided, and that they begin to strategize about ways to help their coastal communities despite barriers such as limited resources. The case studies and video diaries show that local governments can take action now to address future flood risk,” Daigle said.

More details about the project, and all project videos, can be found on the PLACE:SLR website, PLACE:SLR is a partnership between the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Florida Sea Grant, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Mississippi State University Extension to support and enhance sea level rise resilience in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The EPA Gulf of Mexico Division is a non-regulatory program of EPA established to facilitate collaborative actions to preserve the Gulf of Mexico’s health, which promotes the region’s economic well-being. The division initiated the Gulf Guardian Award in 2000 to celebrate the businesses, community groups, individuals and agencies taking positive steps to keep a healthy Gulf coast. There are five award categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations and partnership.