VP's youngest Conservation Pro Staff member owns the room at RESTORE Council public meetings
This week, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council is hosting a series of listening sessions throughout the Gulf States to gather public input on how RESTORE Act dollars should be spent. This plan will outline how RESTORE Act dollars will be translated into restoration projects that will shape the future of Gulf coast wetland habitats and vital fisheries.
As hunters and anglers, we must tell the Restoration Council that sportsmen and women support a healthy ecosystem AND a healthy economy for our Gulf States.
This is exactly what Vanishing Paradise’s youngest Conservation Pro Staff member Sean Turner did on Wednesday night in New Orleans.
Nine-year-old Sean Turner waited patiently for his turn to speak. When his name was called, he marched confidently to the microphone in a room packed wall-to-wall with more than 200 policy makers, state and federal agency reps, reporters, scientists, and community leaders. His comments were simple and straightforward.
“I love to fish in Louisiana, and I’ve done it my entire life. It’s important that we’re able to fish because it means so much to all of us. This is a lot of money we are talking about. Don’t mess this up. I want Louisiana’s coast to stay here. I don’t want to lose it because of some dumb oil spill.”
As he uttered the last word of the simple message that came straight from his 9- year- old heart, the entire room BURST—I mean literally BURST—into riotous applause and shouts of support. People followed him out of the room clamoring to share words of thanks, support, and encouragement.
In a room of conservation, legal, scientific and policy professionals, Sean made the most honest and meaningful statement. Subsequent speakers cited his comments as they spoke to the RESTORE council representatives. “Sean said it best. We have to get this right. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to make sure that his generation has the opportunity to experience the Louisiana we love, and to share it with their children. We have to get this right.”
We couldn’t be more proud of Sean. He and his parents drove from their home an hour away, on their dime, to make their feelings known and to make a statement for future generations.
And Sean did it better than anyone in the room.
Background on the RESTORE Council
The 2010 Gulf oil spill caused extensive damage to the Gulf Coast’s natural resources, devastating the economies and communities that rely on it. In an effort to help the region rebuild, Congress passed the bipartisan RESTORE Act, which dedicates 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines connected with the oil spill to the Gulf Region for ecological and economic recovery efforts.
The RESTORE Act established a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (the Council). The Council will develop and oversee implementation of a comprehensive plan to help restore the ecosystem and economy of the Gulf Coast region in the wake of the oil spill.
The VP Conservation Pro Staff is a group of volunteer leaders that are a vital part of Vanishing Paradise’s efforts to educate hunters and anglers about the importance of the disappearing Mississippi River Delta. Our pro staff members are on the ground, on the airways and on the Internet, fighting for the delta.