Texas forms public-private wetlands restoration partnership

Feb. 14, 2003
The State of Texas has established a public-private initiative known as the Texas Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (Texas CWRP).

HOUSTON, Feb. 14, 2003 -- Future visitors to the historic San Jacinto monument and surrounding grounds soon will see the first fruits of a newly established public-private initiative known as the Texas Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (Texas CWRP).

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK - News) and ENSR International are leading the corporate efforts to establish the Texas CWRP. The two companies are recruiting other entities to join forces with federal and state agencies and others committed to preserving the environment.

The Partnership's first project aims to help return the historic San Jacinto battleground/marshland to its original 1836 appearance. The goal is to make the area look much the way it was when the Texas Army defeated the Mexican Army and won Texas independence some 166 years ago. Among other things, the project will restore prairie grasses, groves of trees and marshes near where the monument now stands to help visitors understand the battlefield's historical significance.

"The San Jacinto marsh restoration and project to develop an interpretive boardwalk for visitors is the Texas chapter's inaugural effort," said Emilio de Cardenas, a vice president of environment, health and safety at Duke Energy and chair of the Texas CWRP. "It will include marsh improvement, restoration, the extension of the boardwalk and creation of an observation deck for visitors to better understand one of the state's more popular attractions. Last year, about one million people visited the monument, battlefield and/or the nearby Battleship Texas. Our project should enhance the experience for years to come."

CWRP and Coastal America

A key purpose of the Texas CWRP is to identify and remove unnecessary policy or regulatory barriers to wetlands, aquatic habitat/coastal restoration and protection. In addition, monetary donations from corporations are generally matched with federal/state grants increasing the financial support of Texas CWRP supported projects. Private funds contributed to the partnership will generally be matched by federal dollars, three dollars (federal) to every one dollar donated; however, the match will vary by project.

"The newly established Texas CWRP will help restore wetlands, rivers, and fish and wildlife habitat in the state," said James L. Connaughton, the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Chair of the Coastal America Principals Group. "The partnership builds on the success of similar ventures in other states. It will help fund priority habitat restoration projects."

The Texas CWRP operates as a private sector initiative, working with the Coastal America Partnership and state agencies. An advisory board has been formed to oversee the Texas CWRP; select projects to support; and disperse funds to the appropriate organization.

Coastal America is a partnership among federal, state and local governments and private alliances to address environmental problems affecting our nation's coasts, waterways and wetlands. The federal partners are: the Departments of Agriculture, Air Force, Army, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Navy, State, Transportation; the Environmental Protection Agency; and The Executive Office of the President.

Cooperative Effort is Working in Other States

"The corporate partnership is an excellent example of how federal and state agencies can communicate, consult and cooperate toward the goal of conservation," said J. Steven Griles, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Duke Energy, a multinational energy company with extensive business operations in the Houston area, is serving as lead corporate sponsor of the Texas CWRP. ENSR International, a worldwide provider of environmental and energy development services, has joined Duke Energy as a charter member of the partnership. The companies are taking the lead role in recruiting others to join the Texas CWRP.

"I am proud of what Duke Energy is doing here," said U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of Texas. "The future of environmental protection lies in government and business working in partnership to achieve a common good. Projects like this will help people realize that protecting the environment is just good business

The Texas CWRP and other state partnerships are part of a larger contingent of corporations, federal and state agencies, and non-profit organizations that comprise the National CWRP. Since its inception in 1999, the National CWRP, through the initiative of such companies as the Gillette Company and Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, which is majority owned by Duke Energy, has grown to include active programs in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Alaska, California, New York, New Jersey, and now Texas.

Kick-Off Event, Feb. 18 in Houston

The Texas CWRP kick-off of its campaign to restore coastal wetlands will be held at The Houstonian Hotel, 111 North Post Oak Lane, Houston, Texas, 77024, on Feb. 18. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m., and a program and reception follows at 5:15 p.m.

Remarks at the event will be provided by Bell, Griles and representatives from Duke Energy and ENSR International.

"This kick-off event is primarily targeted at recruiting additional companies to join the partnership," said de Cardenas. "It also serves as a celebration of the establishment of the Texas chapter of the CWRP."

More information about this new state organization can be found at www.texascwrp.org

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