MASGC Project Impacts

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant supports graduate students, develops workforce

Relevance:

Graduate education is a significant component of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium’s annual budget. Graduates go on to land jobs in such places as academia, industry and environmental non-profit organizations. 

Response:

During the 2014-2017 reporting period, 4.5 Ph.D. degrees, 8.5 master’s degrees and 2 Juris Doctorate degrees were awarded to Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant-supported students. Based on literature values, the value of a master’s degree is valued $584,881, and a Ph.D. is valued at $1,315,982 over the course of a 30-year career.

Results:

The one-time economic impact of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant-supported graduate education for 2014-17 was more than $12M based on a 30-year career.

Recap:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant’s support for graduate education is valued at $12M. (2017)

Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative outreach efforts help integrate SLR science into coastal decision-making

Relevance:

Sea-level rise (SLR) is a critical hazard facing coastal ecosystems, communities and economies. Effective and efficient communication across the science-to-stewardship continuum is necessary for successful resilience. However, the science around SLR is expanding at a rapid pace. Local and regional planners and natural resource managers cannot keep up with the advancements in science.

Response:

The Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative, a program supported by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, worked with researchers in the partnership to integrate new sea-level rise science into decision-making with natural resource management and coastal community planning. The cooperative has been socializing this new information across the northern Gulf participating in Tool Cafes, giving individual webinars, giving presentations at conferences, hosting workshops and spreading the word via various social media platforms and partner networks.

Results:

New SLR science is being integrated across a variety of sectors in the northern Gulf. For example, a recent marsh restoration design accounted for SLR utilizing the latest projections because of Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative discussions and training efforts with local consultants. The Florida counties of Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla are using the updated SLR model on changing coastlines and storm surge due to SLR in place of previously used models as a direct result of the cooperative’s workshops, private webinars and integration into the cooperative’s network of experts.

Recap:

Efforts to socialize new SLR science has led to application in community planning and natural resource management. (2017)

Sea Grant saves communities money by leading activities credited through the Community Rating System

Relevance:

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) facilitates workshops and trainings, delivers professional development credits and provides technical assistance to local communities looking to improve their Community Rating System (CRS) scores. These activities help communities earn points through the National Flood Insurance Program’s CRS and reduce the flood insurance burden passed on to residents.

Response:

In 2014-2017, MASGC organized and led 30 training sessions focused on increasing knowledge about the CRS serving over 1,162 constituents. In addition, Sea Grant received funding to research the Program for Public Information (PPI), a newly implemented CRS activity. As a result, a comprehensive workshop was held to assist communities in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana with developing a PPI. MASGC provided direct technical assistance to the city of Biloxi to create and implement a PPI program, which will save the city money during their next CRS cycle visit (an evaluation to determine their flood insurance discount). Further, Sea Grant staff provide support and regular facilitation for the Coastal Hazard Outreach Strategy Team (CHOST), the CRS users group for coastal Mississippi. MASGC staff organize and participate in major outreach events for CHOST including annual mall outreach, The Home Product Show and presentations for target audiences, such as realtors, developers, contractors and insurance agents.

Results:

Sea Grant provided more than 224 professional certification hours in CRS-related topics, serving over 1,162 local constituents. In addition, Sea Grant’s role in CRS activities saved seven local communities on average $24,271 in flood insurance premiums for a total of $679,600 from 2014-2017 ($169, 900 in savings per year). Through its direct involvement with CHOST, Sea Grant reached multiple communities and organized presentations and training sessions catered to the information needs of its local members. In addition, Sea Grant provided technical assistance to the City of Biloxi to implement the Program for Public Information, a new CRS requirement. Once adopted, the PPI will allow the city to maintain its class 5 CRS rating and provide additional insurance savings for residents.

Recap:

MASGC assisted seven local communities in saving $169,000 a year in reduced flood insurance premiums through its facilitation of the CHOST user group, technical assistance with the PPI and professional development trainings. (2017)

Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative outreach efforts help integrate SLR science into coastal decision-making

Relevance:

Sea-level rise (SLR) is a critical hazard facing coastal ecosystems, communities and economies. Effective and efficient communication across the science-to-stewardship continuum is necessary for successful resilience. However, the science around SLR is expanding at a rapid pace. Local and regional planners and natural resource managers cannot keep up with the advancements in science.

Response:

The Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative, a program supported by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, worked with researchers in the partnership to integrate new sea-level rise science into decision-making with natural resource management and coastal community planning. The cooperative has been socializing this new information across the northern Gulf participating in Tool Cafes, giving individual webinars, giving presentations at conferences, hosting workshops and spreading the word via various social media platforms and partner networks.

Results:

New SLR science is being integrated across a variety of sectors in the northern Gulf. For example, a recent marsh restoration design accounted for SLR utilizing the latest projections because of Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative discussions and training efforts with local consultants. The Florida counties of Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla are using the updated SLR model on changing coastlines and storm surge due to SLR in place of previously used models as a direct result of the cooperative’s workshops, private webinars and integration into the cooperative’s network of experts.

Recap:

Efforts to socialize new SLR science has led to application in community planning and natural resource management. (2017)

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant serves as leader for Alabama Working Waterfront Initiative

Relevance:

In Alabama’s coastal zone, real estate values are escalating and competition for land use is increasing. As tourism development and population growth drive property values higher, locally owned working waterfront businesses are disappearing. Investments in alternative land uses after natural and human-caused disasters also have caused conversion of traditional waterfront uses.

Response:

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium supported and led the Alabama Working Waterfront Coalition as it elected officers, created a board of directors, adopted by-laws and used information from Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant’s Legal Program to file articles of incorporation with the state of Alabama. After years as an ad hoc committee, the stakeholder group was able to operate as an independent entity. Coalition members from a wide range of water-related economic sectors were able to speak with one voice in larger political and economic-development forums.

To improve its visibility, the coalition developed and implemented a Sea Grant-funded marketing plan. Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant also successfully competed for funding from the National Sea Grant Law Center to develop two websites: "Accessing the Alabama Coast" and "Accessing the Mississippi Coast," which contained information on coastal access options.

Results:

Numerous Sea Grant efforts led the development of the Alabama Working Waterfront Coalition and ultimately to the Alabama Legislature recognizing the importance of working waterfronts. The Legislature created the Alabama Waterfront Access Study Committee, which Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant facilitated. The committee studied issues related to working access to Alabama's waterways. Its final report included recommendations regarding planning/zoning, financial incentives, and socio-economic and infrastructure issues.

On the national level, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant was selected by the National Working Waterfronts Network to co-host the 4th National Working Waterfronts & Waterways Symposium. More than 200 participants from 24 states and Canada increased their capacity to address working waterfront issues in their communities.

The Alabama Working Waterfront Coalition’s branding efforts led to broader recognition and outreach opportunities. On social media, the coalition has nearly 400 Twitter followers and more than 200 Facebook followers.

Recap:

The importance of working waterfronts in Alabama is better recognized at a local, state and national levels, and stakeholders are better informed of working waterfront issues. (2017)

The Oyster Trail public art, education project supports oyster gardening program

Relevance:

The Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program is a volunteer-based project that focuses on education, restoration/enhancement and research by bringing the reef to the people. Since the program began in 2001, oyster gardeners have produced more than 800,000 oysters (enough to restore approximately 40.5 acres) for restoration and enhancement efforts within Mobile Bay. Additional volunteers and funding were needed to support these restoration efforts.

Response:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant launched The Oyster Trail, an interactive scavenger hunt through Mobile and Baldwin counties in Alabama. The Oyster Trail currently has 28 5-foot-tall oyster statues that local artists have painted. A business, group or nongovernmental organization pays a yearly fee to sponsor an oyster on their property or in a public space. Each fiberglass oyster statue includes a fact plaque that displays information about oysters or estuaries. Maps and a scavenger hunt form (which includes a list of questions about the oyster facts) can be found around town or on The Oyster Trail's website. Proceeds from oyster sponsorships go to support the ongoing restoration efforts of the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program.

Results:

Twenty-eight businesses, groups and NGOs are active sponsors of The Oyster Trail. Statues placed in 28 locations around Mobile Bay provide a visual reminder of our connection to the estuarine environment. They generated $103,742 in gross proceeds to support the trail and the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program. In addition to the sites in Alabama, the Trail has expanded to include sites in Virginia and New Jersey, where local restoration efforts have capitalized on the success of the trail. Proceeds go toward material and logistical and equipment costs associated with gardening and planting efforts in Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound.

Recap:

The Mississippi-Alabama Oyster Trail raises awareness and funds for the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program's restoration efforts. (2017)