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Artist Boat Offers Educational Adventure

Wetlands on the Gulf of Mexico coast provide a number of ecological and ecosystem services that are vital to the health of our local bay systems and surrounding environments. They provide essential habitat for numerous fish, shellfish, and bird species throughout the Gulf coast, many of which are endangered or threatened. They also provide many ecosystem services or services that benefit humans. For example, over 95% of the commercial and recreational fish species found in the Gulf of Mexico, including red drum, spotted sea trout, and brown shrimp, rely on wetlands at some stage in their life cycle. They also improve water quality, reduce shoreline erosion, and absorb wave energy during storms.

However, despite their importance, over 50% of the wetlands in Texas have been lost. In Galveston Bay, over 35,000 acres of wetlands have been lost since the 1950s. Wetland losses are due to a variety of factors, including drainage for agriculture, urban development and industry, subsidence, dredging and channelization, and air and water pollutants. The losses of these wetlands have resulted in increased flooding, increased erosion, and declining populations of fish, shellfish, and bird species.



Effectively educating the public about the importance of wetlands and surrounding bay habitats is paramount to the mission of the Artist Boat. The Artist Boat is committed to promoting the awareness and preservation of the coastal margins and the marine environment through the disciplines of the arts and sciences. This is done through private and public kayak adventures to coastal sites throughout the Texas Gulf coast, science and art-based workshops and programs, and professional development trainings.

Through Artist Boats’ new programs members of the oil and gas industry are introduced to hands-on training designed to educate and raise awareness of the importance of wetlands and associated bay habitats of the Texas Gulf coast. This program consists of two parts: the Watershed Education Training Program (WET) and the Stewardship Training in the Coastal Zone for Petrochemical Industrial Workers Program.

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During WET training, energy production workforce members participate in watershed education training focused on the Galveston Bay estuarine system. Participants will engage in hands-on, place-based, and meaningful watershed experiences through in-class Eco-Art Workshops and outdoor Eco-Art Adventures via kayaks that integrate the disciplines of art and science. This provides a place-based and experiential interaction with the Galveston Bay estuary that is intended as a first opportunity for people to think about their specific relationship to the environment through non-consumptive use of the ecosystem.

During stewardship training, energy production workforce members participate in a stewardship-based training program designed to develop a common lexicon of environmental vocabulary and concepts, promote permanent corporate and personal investments in maintaining a steward Ship ethic, and assure a continued and broadened participation in activities that address the priority environmental issues within the estuaries and watersheds impacted by oil and gas activities. Through this training, each participant is directly involved with the restoration of 1 acre of wetland habitat, for a total program goal of 60 to 80 acres of restored coastal wetlands. Participants will also receive a 2-hour Brown Bag Workshop at the workplace, with fun, hands-on activities designed to provide a background on the ecology, functions, and issues affecting the wetlands and associated habitats of Galveston Bay. Participants will leave with an increased environmental awareness, stewardship ethic, and hands-on experience in salt marsh restoration.

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These two programs promote a stewardship ethic in the workplace, increase staff knowledge on priority issues affecting local marine habitats, and engage employees who may not typically work together in a dialogue about the natural resources of Galveston Bay. This program is grant funded under the Coastal Impacts Assistance Program and is entirely free for participants. For more information about how your company can participate in a WET or Stewardship program, please contact Anna Deichmann, Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 409-770- 0722. Also, visit our website at www.artistboat.org.

All photos © 2014 - www.epicphotography.pro.

“The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government or the State of Texas. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U. S. Government or the State of Texas.”

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