The official website of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

Council Staff - Heather D. Young





 Heather D. Young
  Senior Advisor for Ecosystem Restoration and Environmental Compliance

Heather Young serves as Senior Advisor for Ecosystem Restoration and Environmental Compliance for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council). Created by the RESTORE Act of 2012 and comprised of the Governors of the five Gulf Coast States and Cabinet-level officials from six federal agencies, the RESTORE Council is responsible for restoring and protecting the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands, and economy of the Gulf Coast.

Young has over 23 years of experience working to conserve, restore, and protect Gulf coast habitats in partnership with multiple federal and state agencies, local governments, industry, non-profit organizations, and Gulf coast residents. She has extensive experience in environmental compliance as well as development, technical review, and implementation of coastal restoration projects and programs. Prior to joining the Council staff, Young worked for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service Habitat Conservation Division for 18 years reviewing coastal development, federal flood control, navigation, and ecosystem restoration projects. She was responsible for evaluating potential adverse and beneficial impacts to influence coastal decisions for protection and restoration of living marine resources and ecosystem resiliency. As a regional coordinator, Young served in NOAA’s Headquarter War Room in Washington, D.C. during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill response to improve communication between headquarters and Gulf staff located across multiple line offices. She not only coordinated staff supporting NOAA Leadership, but also participated on interagency work teams during development of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force’s Gulf of Mexico Regional Restoration Strategy. Her leadership as a federal liaison to the Gulf of Mexico Alliance has helped advance multi-state action efforts across the Gulf to improve ecological health, restore habitats, and increase coastal resilience. As a former federal liaison to the Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership (SARP), Young helped draft the Southeast Aquatic Habitat Plan, one of the first plans to implement the National Fish Habitat Initiative, and she forged a Community-based Habitat Restoration Partnership to deliver on the ground restoration results across nine states.  

Young has advanced watershed-based restoration at both local and regional scales in Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama as an expert on multiple interagency review and sediment beneficial use advisory teams and as a Council representative for the Galveston Bay National Estuary Program. Prior to her federal government service, Young worked as a consultant leading science-based field investigations, developing sampling plans and environmental reports, and coordinating environmental compliance for industry clients. As a result of her skills in developing restoration efforts on the ground and in the field and supporting environmental policy improvements, Young has been recognized at the local, regional, and national level for effective project and program implementation and catalyzing diverse partnerships across the Southeast region. 

Young has a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology with emphasis in Coastal Wetland Ecology and Environmental Policy from Texas A&M University at Galveston. Formal training in alternative dispute resolution, mediation, and facilitation add to her skills in communication and negotiation to reach mutually acceptable solutions to complex natural resource issues.

Young enjoys living on the coast near Galveston, Texas with her husband and daughter. Her hobbies include boating, snorkeling and diving, gardening, being outside, and introducing children to nature and the world of science.