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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOAA 02 r411
APRIL 21, 2002

 

CONTACT:
Cheva Heck
(305) 292-0311
(305) 304-0179 (cell)

 

COMMERCE OFFICIAL HONORS KEYS RESIDENTS AS
ENVIRONMENTAL HEROES

Ford, Hommell, and Dimse Recognized at Cheeca Lodge Earth Day Celebration

Three Florida Keys residents were honored today as "Environmental Heroes" by Scott B. Gudes, Deputy Under Secretary with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), at the annual Earth Day celebration at Cheeca Lodge. George Hommell, Jr., Fran Ford, and Dr. Steve Dimse were recognized for their continuing efforts to protect the environment in the Florida Keys. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department.

"These citizens exhibit continued stewardship in protecting the Florida Keys Sanctuary's natural resources," said Deputy Under Secretary Gudes. "Their commitment in raising public awareness is something we should all emulate."

Hommell is a long-time Keys fishing guide and the general manager of World Wide Sportsman sporting goods store and Bayside Marina in Islamorada. In July 2000, Bayside Marina became the first in the Florida Keys recognized under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Clean Marina Program, which certifies marinas that operate in an environmentally conscious manner. 

In 2002, World Wide Sportsman joined the Florida Keys Seagrass Outreach Partnership, a coalition of public and private groups working to increase awareness of the importance of seagrass and reduce boating impacts to this critical habitat. Hommell agreed to host the organization's first Florida Seagrass Festival on the grounds of World Wide Sportsman.

Hommell is also a founding member of Bonefish and Tarpon Unlimited, which supports projects and research that help support healthy bonefish and tarpon fisheries.

"George Hommell does more than talk about protecting the environment being good for business, he leads by example," said Sanctuary Superintendent Billy Causey, who nominated Hommell. "Under Mr. Hommell's direction, World Wide Sportsman has taken the lead in teaching boaters and anglers how to be good environmental citizens."

Fran Ford was named an Environmental Hero in recognition of her extensive volunteer work in support of the environment, particularly through her work with Florida Keys Audubon and the Monroe County Environmental Education Advisory Council.

 "Fran Ford has helped the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary achieve its environmental stewardship mission by her long-term involvement in environmental education," said Sanctuary Education Program Assistant Joy Tatgenhorst, who nominated Ford. "Fran lives with an environmental consciousness."

Ford's contributions include working to award environmental education scholarships to students and environmental education grants to teachers, leading the annual migrating bird count in Key West, and purchasing birding books to donate to Monroe County libraries.

Dr. Steve Dimse is an emergency room physician who was named an Environmental Hero in recognition of his efforts toward supplying NOAA with a large number of real-time citizen weather observations that are being used in NOAA's research and operational activities in Florida and other parts of the country.

"Steve Dimse has contributed his own time and money to develop an Internet server that collects several hundred thousand weather observations from citizen weather stations every month and makes these reports available to NOAA," said Russ Chadwick of NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory in Boulder, CO., who nominated Dimse. "Not only does Steve send these data to NOAA, he also operates a web site so that anyone can access these and other types of data, and his web site gets over 2 million hits a month!"

Dimse's contributions include development and continuing operation of his www.findu.com server and his work to acquire weather data used by Florida NWS Weather Forecast Offices, by Kennedy Space Center in support of launch operations, and by the National Hurricane Center for hurricane prediction and tracking.

NOAA, an agency of the Department Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit http://www.noaa.gov.

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