NFL Green Tackle Coral Restoration Project in Florida

When we think of the Super Bowl – America’s most popular sporting event according to Arcadia Publishing – ocean conservation and military veterans are usually not top of mind. But, for the past two years, a unique collaboration ahead of the annual game has put coral restoration at the forefront of the world’s attention.

For nearly 30 years, NFL Green has managed the Community Greening Initiative for Sports League, the NFL’s environmental and sustainability program. Each season, NFL Green Associate Director Susan Groh, benefitting each host community, explained, with projects undertaken by the NFL and Super Bowl Host Committee, concluding with “Green Week.”

“NFL Green aims to reduce the environmental impact of our events and leave a positive green legacy,” Gro told Ecowatch. Efforts include recovering food, recycling and waste management, donating used incident and construction materials and replenishing energy for events.

This green heritage has also included a touch of blue over the past two years, meaning conservation efforts focused on host cities Miami in 2020 and now Tampa’s waters in 2021. The Miami Green Week activities for Super Bowl LIV included planting 100 endangered corals. In honor of the 100th season of the NFL, Biscayne Bay, Groh said.

In the past year, the effort was expanded to “100 yards of hope”, a football field-sized coral restoration project. The final area and center of the area-sized reef was laid out in 2020, followed by divers planting thousands of stagnorns and mountain star corals from The Florida Aquarium (FLAQ), Miami Rosenstial School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). , SECORE International and Frost Science, explained FLAQ to Senior Vice President of Conservation Deborah Luke.

Military veterans and choral scientists team up the endangered corals as part of the NFL’s 100 Yards Hope. Force blue

“This critically important project is helping restore Florida’s coral reef, the world’s third-largest barrier reef, which is in crisis,” Luke told Ecowatch.

Florida’s coral reefs provide prime nursery areas that support ocean ecosystems and protect the beach from storms and erosion, Luke said. It provides significant economic benefits by pumping $ 3.4 billion a year into the US economy through employment, tourism, seafood and medicine, Grover of the NFL said.

Unfortunately, global factors such as climate crisis, ocean warming, and acidification continue to be threatened with regional pollutants and a mysterious coral disease.

“More than 90 percent [the reef’s] The corals have died … restoration of Florida’s coral reef is necessary if we want to continue again [its] Benefit, ”Luke said.

Dalton Hesley, a senior research associate at RSMAS, reported that 100 Yards of Hope intends to reverse this showcase on a showcase reef, whose team accelerated restoration efforts. It is the first large-scale restoration project involving thousands of sexually and asexual multi-species coral transplants, along with disease tracking and quenching, urination and high-resolution mapping. Heasley said that these actions increase coral cover, diversity and recovery.

Hesley told EcoWatch, “100 yards of hope is a symbol. It is a symbol of a passionate person, who can work towards a shared vision.” “What began as a celebration of the NFL’s 100th season has turned into a future battle for our coral reefs.”

Last week, 150 alkorn corals, another threatened coral species, were added to the field. RSMAS provided 55 of the endangered corals this past weekend, in celebration of Super Bowl 55. FLAQ provided the remaining corals. Groh said the final planting of the giant corpse and star coral would be completed within 100 yards in the spring.

Force Blue’s military combat veterans assisted with tree planting. The nonprofit deploys former special operations veterans and military-trained combat divers to work with scientists and environmentalists on retrine and marine conservation work, executive director Jim Ritterhoff explained.

55 divers remove sea debris from Tampa Bay as part of the NFL’s Green Week. Force blue

“If we can do something good for the veterans by giving them a new mission to save the planet and provide a highly skilled workforce to the scientific community,” Ritterhoff said. “but perhaps [touchdown] All of this is how this effort uses Navy Seals and the NFL, people you don’t traditionally talk about, to reach an audience that doesn’t necessarily pay attention to coral reef scientists . People listen because these people are their heroes. “

Noting that this is more of a world project than a local Florida project, Ritterhoff said, “I think it’s important that everyone takes cognizance of these issues. The Florida Coral Reef is a national treasure, and it’s our lifetime Can be 100 percent. “If we don’t behave differently, it will be gone.”

NFL Green Week included planting Reed Park Community Gardens in Tampa Bay. Michael Farrant / Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee

In addition to coral restoration efforts, NFL Green completed traditional community greening projects. These included building pollen gardens, planting mangroves, restoring the shoreline, and sand dunes to protect against erosion and storms.

NFL Green also connected land and sea with an underwater cleanup called Dive 55 at the mouth of Tampa Bay. To that end, the leaders of the Force Blue team led 55 divers to evacuate 1.5 divers, which were not limited to old fishing nets, ropes, nets, plastics and beach debris, Groh said. Some of the recovered items will be used by local students to create art projects that will be displayed at FLAQ to raise marine debris awareness.

“It’s about leadership and heritage,” Groh said. “For big events there is an opportunity not only to offset the environmental impact of their events, but to go well beyond that and leave the communities hosting the events better than they are. Facing significant environmental challenges to the world Falls and it’s going to address all of us. Them. “

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