New campaign calls for restoration projects that benefit environment and economy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (Marketwired) – The Walton Family Foundation today announced a Gulf-wide effort to spotlight business support for restoration projects that will benefit both the economy and the environment. The campaign, Operation 1-1-1, provides a unique platform for fishermen, restaurant owners, community leaders and other coastal residents to tell their stories and call on policymakers to support environmental restoration that benefits local communities.

“The old construct of business and environmental interests being at odds doesn’t work for anyone. We support restoration solutions that make economic sense,” said Scott Burns, director of the Walton Family Foundation’s Environmental Focus Area. “We call it conservationomics, the idea that environmental and economic restoration go hand in hand. That’s what this campaign is all about.”

Operation 1-1-1 features video interviews with business owners and community leaders from across the Gulf Coast, including: Fr. Sinclair Oubre, Treasurer of Port Arthur Area Shrimpers’ Association.

“When people come out fishing for the first time on my boat, they see firsthand why clean waters and healthy fish stocks are so important. Their experiences and my business depend on a strong ecosystem,” said Avery Bates, Vice-President, Organized Seafood Association of Alabama.

“For decades my family has relied on oysters in the Gulf waters — not only to make a living, but also to provide seafood to Americans across the country. Restoring the Gulf environment means sustaining our way of life,” said Michael Hecht, President, Greater New Orleans, Inc.

“Common sense tells us there’s more at stake than just the jobs that will be directly created or preserved by restoration efforts. Businesses can’t expand or create jobs without a stabilized coast that protects the region from flooding. We need our leaders to make smart decisions that leverage our natural resources to protect this region from the storms that harm both the economy and the community,” said Joseph “Smokey” Parrish, Franklin County Commissioner and Shrimper.

“I know from my own experience as a shrimper and from the lives of my neighbors that the seafood industry relies on thriving ecosystems. We must make sure those ecosystems continue to sustain the jobs in our community by supporting responsible restoration in Florida and across the Gulf Coast,” said Louis Skrmetta, Captain, Ship Island Excursions. “When tourists and locals come on Ship Island Excursions, they can see firsthand why clean waters and healthy fish stocks are so important. Their experiences and my business depend on a strong ecosystem.”

The Operation 1-1-1 campaign, which launched today across the Gulf region, collected stories from residents who rely on a healthy Gulf environment for their livelihoods. The campaign provides a forum for Gulf Coast residents who support common-sense restoration to take action through the campaign website, which will be supported with Google and Facebook ad buys from the Walton Family Foundation.

Environmental restoration creates jobs, boosts Gulf Coast businesses and strengthens local communities. Some environmental projects, such as invasive species removal, can create up to 74 percent more jobs per dollar than typical investments in infrastructure. The Gulf Coast environment is the backbone of the region’s economy, supporting: $19 billion in wildlife tourism industry; $41 billion in recreational fishing economy; and producing roughly 40 percent of the seafood in the lower 48 states.

About the Walton Family Foundation The Walton Family Foundation promotes environmental solutions that make economic sense for communities and their natural resources. The foundation works to achieve change that lasts by creating new and unexpected partnerships and bringing conservation, business and community interests to the same table to build long-term solutions to big problems.

The Walton Family Foundation invested $91 million in environmental initiatives in 2012. A majority of the foundation’s grants are made to organizations and programs that pursue lasting conservation solutions for oceans and rivers while also recognizing the role these waters play in the livelihoods of those who live and work nearby. The foundation divides its environmental giving into two initiatives:

Freshwater Conservation, which works to sustain healthy and resilient communities of both people and wildlife in the Colorado River basin and along the Mississippi River from its headwaters to the delta; and

Marine Conservation, which supports initiatives that create economic incentives for sustainable resource management in some of the world’s most ecologically rich ocean areas, from Indonesia to Ecuador to the Gulf of Mexico.

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