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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: December 8, 2004

Dr. Robert E. Stewart Receives Gulf Guardian Award

Dr. Bob StewartLafayette, LA. Lafayette, LA– Dr. Robert E. Stewart received a Gulf Guardian Award from the Gulf of Mexico Program in recognition of his work and leadership in wetland conservation along the Gulf Coast. This award marks the second conservation recognition he has received this year; last spring, Dr. Stewart was named Professional Conservationist of the year by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation.

Dr. Stewart is associate regional biologist in the U.S. Geological Survey’s central region and is stationed at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center, headquartered in Lafayette. He formerly was center director for 25 years and will retire from the Department of the Interior in January after 30 years of service.

The award states that Dr. Stewart “has devoted his entire career to improving our understanding of the natural world with a single purpose --- to support wetland conservation. His scientific and leadership contributions during the past 30 years have particularly and dramatically advanced coastal wetland protection in the Gulf Coast region.”

The award also cites Dr. Stewart’s work to get the 75,000- square foot research center located at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and near the Gulf Coast where most wetland losses occur. The award states, “From this central-Gulf location, Stewart and his team have supported wetland inventory, monitoring and research in every Gulf Coast state. Between the time the center opened in 1992 and the spring of 2004, Dr. Stewart doubled its staff and established research stations in Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“Now part of the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Wetlands Research Center has emerged as the preeminent U.S. institution on wetland science because of its productivity, innovation, and impact under Dr. Stewart’s vision and leadership.”

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive.

Gulf of Mexico Program office director Bryon O. Griffith said, “This year’s Gulf Guardian Award winners encapsulate the essence of the Gulf of Mexico Program and our efforts to attain environmental solutions in concert with economic growth. Environmental successes are exponential when you bring the resources of many to the table, as the 2004 winners have so successfully demonstrated.”

“The Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2004 are prime examples of collaborative environmental efforts leading to neighborhood solutions that transcend political boundaries,” said Benjamin Grumbles, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator for water in Washington, D.C. “I commend all of the winners for their innovative partnerships, common sense ideas and hard work. Their efforts are making a difference in protecting and restoring the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. It seeks partners to protect the 1.8 million square miles that make up the waters of the Gulf. Award entries were received from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by EPA and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists and community leaders from all five Gulf States.

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