October 27, 2010—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has named John H. Hankinson, Jr. to be the executive director of the newly established Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. President Obama signed an executive order earlier this month establishing the task force, which will coordinate efforts to implement restoration programs and projects in the Gulf Coast region.
“We are proud that one of Audubon’s most important leaders is stepping into such an important role in restoring the Gulf,” said Chris Canfield, VP Gulf Coast Conservation. “Audubon looks forward to supporting John so that the communities of people and wildlife can heal as quickly as possible.”
Hankinson is Board Chairman of Audubon of Florida and served as regional EPA Administrator from 1994 to 2001. Previously he led land acquisition at the St. Johns River Water Management District and was a staff director at the Florida House of Representatives. A veteran problem solver, he has the skills to bring people together and a strong commitment to coastal conservation. Through Audubon, he provided important leadership on the organization’s effective response to the Gulf Oil Spill.
"All of the folks and organizations from the national to the local level that love and depend on the Gulf of Mexico must get behind the effort to restore this magnificent resource,” Hankinson said. “Audubon can play a key role in both building a broad coalition of support and in providing critical science necessary to guide decision-making."
Gov. Charlie Crist praised the selection. "John understands the strong link between Florida’s economy and the Gulf, especially for our tourism and seafood industries. Nothing is more important to Florida’s future than cleaning up any oil that remains in the Gulf of Mexico,'' the governor said in a statement.
Since the Deepwater Horizon spill began in April, Audubon has played a key role in organizing an effective volunteer response in the Gulf states impacted by the spill. In addition to sending volunteers to assist with bird rehabilitation, Audubon bird stewards, beach monitors and scientific researchers were deployed to protect coastal areas and vulnerable bird nesting sites from both the impacts of the spill and to minimize the damage wrought by spill response and clean up efforts. Moving forward, Audubon will continue its science and advocacy efforts to ensure effective habitat and wildlife recovery from the spill’s impacts as well as to achieve ecological restoration to recover from other human-caused stressors in the region’s coastal and wetlands systems.
“John has worked with Audubon through the spill and before to mount an effective response and make a healthy and resilient Gulf Coast a priority,” said Audubon of Florida State Director Eric Draper. “We congratulate John on this important new role and look forward to working with him and the task force on long-term efforts to protect the Gulf and its wildlife.”