By Austin Phillips | September 16, 2022 | Auburn University
Auburn football isn’t the only thing going orange this weekend, as the Board of Trustees approved a project Friday to build an Auburn University Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station in Orange Beach.
The building, which is being constructed on land provided by the City of Orange Beach on Terry Cove off Perdido Bay with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, will consist of laboratory, office and collaborative meeting spaces. The project will provide dedicated space for research of coastal environments and communities of the Gulf Coast, while also providing collaborative opportunities with other Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium institutions.
The news comes on the heels of the February announcement of the acquisition of a facility in Huntsville to establish the Auburn University Research and Innovation Campus.
“We are thrilled to announce this new endeavor to further Auburn University’s mission as one of the nation’s premier land-grant universities, and we are extremely appreciative of the support of the Board of Trustees and the president’s office,” said Steve Taylor, interim dean of Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “This facility will expand collaborative opportunities with our friends and partners with the City of Orange Beach, the University of South Alabama and other regional institutions and industries as we work together to study, develop and implement infrastructure resiliency, environmental protection, restoration, sustainability and conservation actions that will continue to improve the quality of life and enhance economic advancement in this vital area to our state.”
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said the city is proud to work with Auburn and other universities to create long-term solutions for the state’s Gulf Coast, and beyond.
"The City of Orange Beach is extremely excited about the opportunity to partner with Auburn University and the collaborative effort with universities all over the country," Kennon said.
The gulf research station will focus on three broad coastal research areas: water quality and quantity protection and restoration; protection, restoration and conservation of habitat and living resources; and enhancing coastal community sustainability and resilience.
In addition, it will also provide residents and visitors a better understanding and appreciation of the natural, historical, cultural and environmental resources of the region through community outreach and continuing education opportunities.
Funding for the station was secured through the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council in cooperation with the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The effects of natural and man-made disasters on the primary industries in the region have resulted in economic adjustments and dislocations primarily through reductions in tourism and the simultaneous effects on tourism-related industries, damage to public and private infrastructure, negative impacts to agriculture and fishing-related industries, and damage to the natural environment and natural resources.
Through the creation of this facility, Auburn University and its partners will engage in fundamental and applied research of critical importance to the coastal environment and communities of Alabama and the larger northern Gulf Coast region. The station will be dedicated to addressing all the goals and objectives set forth in the 2016 Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Comprehensive Plan.