From left to right: Don Blancher (REF Board Member), Taylor Marshall (REF Director of Sustainable Programs), Shane Granier (Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries), Juana Woodard (widow of John W. Woodard), Marv Marshall (REF Co-Founder), P.J. Marshall (REF Co-Founder and Executive Director), Jonathan Foret (South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center), Amy Wing (REF Board Member), Bob Thomas (REF Board Member) and his wife Polly.

Houma, Louisiana – (May 8th, 2017)
 – Restore the Earth Foundation is thrilled to announce that Co-Founders P.J. and Marv Marshall were honored this past Saturday with the John W. Woodard Award, presented by the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center at their 5th Annual Rougarou Ball. Every year this award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the protection and restoration of coastal Louisiana.

Under P.J. and Marv’s leadership, Restore the Earth has reforested over 50,000 acres since 2008. They deployed the first wetland restoration on oil soiled wetlands following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, leading to multiple coastal wetland restorations in the Gulf Coast.

Utilizing landscape-scale restoration, Restore the Earth successfully rebuilds ecological health and integrity, providing benefits for both people and the environment. The organization has a mission to restore 1 million acres of degraded forest and wetland ecosystems in the Mississippi River Basin — North America’s Amazon.

Starting in Louisiana, Restore the Earth is currently underway with the first 4,000 acres of this initiative, restoring a historic bald cypress forest at the Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Montegut, Louisiana.

People living in the coastal communities of Louisiana are at the frontlines of land loss, having experienced significant loss to their culture and livelihoods. Through restoration, Restore the Earth will not only return the ecosystem services to the area, but the culture, history and way of life that is built by the hunting, fishing and residual economies created from healthy ecosystems.

When asked what restoration at the Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA would mean for the local community, one longtime resident noted:

“I have cypress baskets from my grandfather that are over 100 years old. I know how to make cypress baskets but we don’t have cypress like we use to have . . . I would be so excited to be able to work with [Restore the Earth] to get our trees for our baskets. This is so important. We have baskets in all kinds of museums all over the country — there are so few,” responded one stakeholder.

Successfully deploying restoration “on the ground”, has been a result of Restore the Earth’s collaborative partnerships with private corporations, public agencies and community organizations.

“Our work truly would not be possible without our incredible partners. We have developed unique and valuable relationships, and are grateful for each and every individual or entity that has been a part of “taking action” to make restoration happen,” P.J. reflects.

Restore the Earth prides itself on its collaborative and unlikely partnerships citing partners ranging from Clif Bar, Timberland Pro, Silicon Valley tech firms and international oil and gas companies to community non-profits and local engineering firms.

“This award is a testament to those partnerships and the ability for unlikely partners to come together to find a solution to environmental, social and economic concerns.” Marv adds. “We are honored to receive this award but remain humble in acknowledging the many people and partnerships that led to it and the great work that is being accomplished by other organizations across the coast.”

Local community engagement and stakeholder involvement in restoration projects has been a critical priority for Restore the Earth, ensuring that opportunities to generate awareness or participation is provided to community members as a way to educate and engage project beneficiaries. This is why receiving the Woodard Award is such an honor for P.J., Marv and Restore the Earth Foundation.

“Each year the Wetlands Discovery Center selects an individual to receive the Woodard Award acknowledging their efforts to protect and restore coastal Louisiana. This year we are excited to present the award to P.J and Marv Marshall in recognition of their work,” Jonathan Foret, Executive Director of the Discovery Center explained. “Our board members were overjoyed to see Restore the Earth Foundation’s restoration work that has begun in the Pointe aux Chenes Wildlife Management Area. This reforestation project will offer another must needed level of protection to our communities fighting against coastal land loss and hurricane storm surges. We are truly thankful for their work and commitment to the coast!”

About Restore the Earth Foundation
Restore the Earth Foundation (REF), is 501(c)(3) non-profit. REF’s mission is to restore the earth’s essential forest and wetland ecosystems, by delivering outstanding environmental, social, and economic returns. These returns are then documented, verified, monetized, and ready for third party audit, using REF’s EcoMetrics Model. REF has a successful track record, having restored over 50,000 acres along America’s Gulf Coast, funded by $40 million from private/public funding sources. Today, these reforested areas enhance resilient ecosystems, habitats, and communities in self-sustaining systems. This restoration ensures the overall well-being, livelihood, identity, and culture of communities.

About The South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center
The South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center is revolutionizing how we think, teach and learn about Louisiana’s disappearing coast. The Discovery Center serves as a hub to increase awareness of the plight of Louisiana’s wetlands so that this valuable resource may be preserved for future generations. We believe that all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity or geographic location, have a responsibility to understand their environment and how it changes. We believe that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education develops the skills necessary to adapt to a changing environment, enabling students to continue their way of life for generations to come.

The Center is working to achieve its mission by developing a campus that will consist of a partially sheltered amphitheater, a wetlands nature exhibit, and three educational buildings. The 10,000 square feet of educational buildings will house gallery exhibitions and a laboratory. In addition, there will be 17,000 square feet of exterior boardwalks and a reflection pool. The completed campus will provide 27,000 square feet of educational space. This project is designed to be developed in four phases. Each phase is initiated as funds are secured.