Delta Dispatches: The Maurepas Freshwater Diversion
Welcome to Delta Dispatches with hosts Jacques Hebert & Simone Maloz. On today’s show Brad Miller, Project Manager with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority joins Jacques and Simone to talk about the Maurepas freshwater diversion project and and other coastal restoration projects he’s helping to coordinate across the state. The second guest on today’s show is Rebecca Triche, Executive Director, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, who’s here to talk about the great work the Louisiana Wildlife Federation is doing, the changes of the Maurepas swamp over the past few years & why this project is important and the CAMO Coalition.
Below is a transcript of this week’s Delta Dispatches Podcast. Subscribe to our feed in iTunes and Google Play.
Jacques: Welcome to Delta Dispatches. This is Jacques Hebert. We’re discussing Louisiana’s coast, its people, wildlife and jobs and why restoring it matters. Hello, Simone.
Simone: Hello, Jacques. This is Simone Maloz with Restore or Retreat.
Jacques: Simone, the countdown is in full effect. It’s one day until the rendezvous.
Simone: Oh, man. My whole life is defined by this rendezvous and so it’s our annual fall fund raiser which we have once a year at Restore or Retreat. We are very much looking forward to it. We do this just once a year. It’s pretty time intensive, but it’s the one time we get to have some fun, so we’re very much looking forward to it.
Jacques: Awesome. Well, you’ll have to let us know how it goes.
Simone: We got a busy couple weeks to them. I’m looking forward to letting my hair down.
Jacques: It’s been busy. Letting your hair, celebrating a little bit, bringing some friends in and thanking all the good friends that support not just Restore and Retreat but all the efforts of restoring the coast, right?
Simone: Yeah, yeah, definitely. It’s the one chance I get to pay everybody back for all the favors I’ve asked them throughout the year, so I get to reset on that. How about you? What you been up to this week?
Jacques: Well, I was out yesterday at our Paul J. Rainey wildlife sanctuary in Vermilion Parrish.
Simone: Oh, nice. On the most beautiful day of the week, you found an excuse to go outside.
Jacques: Yeah, as soon as I heard the weather was cooling down, I was like all right. Got to get out to Rainey, but no, it’s beautiful out there. It’s Audubon’s oldest and largest wildlife sanctuary. We saw a ton of birds, a lot of roseate spoonbills.
Simone: Oh, they’re so pretty. They’re my favorite.
Jacques: Yeah. So, it’s always a great day when we can get out to Rainey.
Simone: I saw you had some alligators.
Jacques: Yeah, there was this one area that was like a little canal and we looked down and literally it was just like ten, eleven baby alligators. Every time we thought we counted them all there was another one that we’re like hey, look over there.
Simone: They like the birds as well, as much as you do Jacques. It’s their lunch.
Jacques: Well, it is a wildlife sanctuary.
Simone: So we’re going to have a good show today. I’m looking forward to it.
Jacques: Yeah, speaking of alligators, we’re talking freshwater habitat and swamp restoration. So who are we talking to today?
Simone: So we’re lucky enough to have Brad Miller on from CPRA. We’ve talked about Brad’s other projects incessantly. Brad is the project manager for Caminada but now he’s working on this freshwater diversion called Maurepas and then we’re bringing back one of our friends and partners with Louisiana Wildlife Federation, their executive director Rebecca Trish is going to be on the line with us in a little bit. They do some work on Maurepas, Caminada and some others, so we’re going to talk about that a little bit.
Jacques: Yeah, and I mean it is such a beautiful part of the state, such an iconic part of the state. I’ve been kayaking out in Maurepas swamp and near Manchac and when you think of Louisiana and you think of the swamp, that’s what it is, and so Brad and his team are working on a project that will really, they’ll helping to restore it and help maintain that iconic part of our coast.
Simone: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. It is so beautiful with the cypress trees and it is a different kind of marsh. Brad worked on the beach, too, so he goes from beaches to trees, so we’re looking forward to talking to him.
Jacques: All right. We’ll let’s bring them on.
Simone: Let’s bring them on. So, we are lucky enough to have on the line, Brad Miller. He’s the project manager for CPRA. He has over 18 years of experience implementing a variety of large scale coastal restoration projects including Barrier Island restoration, like Caminada, marsh creation and freshwater diversions like Maurepas, and he is the project manager for that. He is also my favorite project manager at CRP Ray.
Jacques: Uh-oh. I think we’re going to get in trouble for that.
Simone: Do not include that. He did not include that in his bio.
Brad: Thank you, Simone.
Simone: Hey, Brad. How are you?
Brad: Good. Thanks for having me on.
Simone: Yeah, we’re so happy to have you. I told Jacques before the show that I talk to you all the time on the phone and I call and harass you for project updates and now it’s nice to have you on the show in an official capacity to talk about our work, so I’ll try to keep it professional, okay?
Simone: So, Brad, why don’t you, we gave a little bit of a bio about you, but why don’t you tell us about yourself?
Brad: Okay. Well, I’m project manager at CPRA and as a project manager I’m tasked with implementing coastal restoration and protection projects. They can range from flood protection, marsh creation, barrier island and river diversion projects to name a few. At CPRA project managers primarily focus on getting a project through design and construction. You have planning folks on the front end and operations management folks on the back end, but in project management, my main task is to get a project through the design and construction phase.
Simone: The easy part.
Jacques: No heavy lift there.
Simone: That’s a heavy lift there, Brad. So tell us, which project has been your favorite so far?
Brad: Oh, wow. Well, that’s probably a loaded question.
Simone: It is. That’s what we do here.
Brad: Can I take two?
Simone: Yes, I’ll let you take two.
Brad: I think, I’ve dealt with a bunch of projects ranging from all the disciplines we deal with, but one I just finished up about a year ago was the Caminada Headland Beach and Dune restoration and that was really unique because it was the first time we went to Ship Shoal out in the Gulf of Mexico to get sand to restore a barrier headland. We transported it over 40 miles and the project was actually two projects funded separately but in total we restored 13 miles of beach and dune with a little over 8 million yards of sand, so it was just a really great project to be involved with.
Simone: And one of our favorite projects, too.
Brad: It was. We went out there a lot of times to get some good memories out there, and now we’ve handed that off to our L&M folks because it’s done being constructed, so I’m moving onto another large project and that’s the River Reintroduction of the Maurepas Swamp is probably my, another one of my favorite projects and it’s just a very unique project, some different habitat that we don’t typically think of when we think about coastal restoration, but coastal swamps and forests are definitely important, and I want to talk more about that a little bit later in the show.
Jacques: Yeah, and Brad, I mean, Simone hit on it but it just shows kind of how varied and diverse our coast is, right? You literally are going from the shoreline to kind of …
Simone: And Gulf of Mexico, right?
Jacques: Yeah, Gulf of Mexico.
Simone: To Lake Pontchartrain.
Jacques: To Lake Pontchartrain, areas around like kind of the river parishes and this bottomland hardwood or Tupelo Swamp. I have to say I did fly over Caminada last week out of Houma and it looks beautiful and just to see that long strip of beach protecting our first line of defense, it’s amazing so tell us a little bit how did you get into your role and then into project management?
Brad: Well, Simone mentioned I’ve been with the state for about 18 years now. Back when I started off CPRA didn’t exist. We were actually the Department of Natural Resources. There was a coastal division under them. I actually started off in planning, and that’s the group that starts projects off, and as … long ago was mainly CWPPRA and there’s a CWPPRA planning group and they go throughout the state and develop projects and then the LCA program came along and we worked on feasibility studies and planning projects and the master plan was also a planning tool so that’s where I got my start, and then a spot opened up in project management. I thought it sounded exciting and I’ve been doing project management work for the probably the past 10 years and it’s just a real exciting thing to do. We get to work with a lot of different people from design consultants to local land owners to some of the NGOs like Simone, so you get to work with a lot of different people and get to see projects built. It’s very rewarding work.
Simone: So, Brad, knowing that you started 18 years ago, tell us about the difference in our coast, good and bad starting way back when you started.
Brad: Well, I think the good is we have a lot more funding right now, and I guess fortunately and unfortunately all that comes from disasters. The oil spill has given our agency a lot of funding. Katrina we saw a lot of funding come from that, but I think the good part of that is that on a national level it puts us a little bit more in the spotlight. The bad is that we’re seeing, we’re starting to see some major ecosystem level changes and impacts to our coast and it’s going to be challenging to keep everyone happy and restore our entire coast. We’re working hard at it.
Simone: All right, Brad. We want you to hold on because after the break we do want to talk to you about more specifics about the freshwater project into Maurepas will you hold on after the break?
Brad: That sounds great.
Simone: All right. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches. This is Simone Maloz on WGSO 990 AM.
Jacques: Welcome back to Delta Dispatches. We’re discussing Louisiana’s coast, its people, wildlife and jobs and why restoring it matters. I’m Jacques Hebert with Audubon Louisiana.
Simone: And I’m Simone Maloz with Restore or Retreat.
Jacques: We’re so fortunate to have Brad Miller from Coastal Protection Restoration Authority on the show to discuss his work and in particular one really important restoration project, kind of a first in many ways that’s getting underway and that he’s leading. You want to talk to Brad about that, Simone?
Simone: Yeah. So Brad, tell us a little bit about the history of this project for Maurepas Swamp. Was it a CWPPRA project or tell us a little about its background.
Brad: That’s correct. It actually started off in the CWPPRA program and a little bit of brief history, the Maurepas Swamp is a forested coastal swamp south of lake Maurepas. It’s about halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, mainly north of I-10. It’s been, like most of our wetlands, cut off from the river that built and has sustained it over time. Like you said it started off in the CWPPRA program about 15 years ago. It kind of outgrew CWPPRA when we realized the cost of it but we got it to a level of design in CWPPRA and then handed it off to the state. We have been waiting for a few years for a funding source to come along to finish design and we recently got that through the Restore Act so we’re going to be wrapping up design here in the next couple years and hopefully building this project.
Simone: So it was called, was it Hope Canal? Is that right? Hope Canal and CWPPRA?
Brad: Well, okay, and that’s a good point. There was also an LCA project called Hope Canal, so in the LCA program there was the Hope Canal project and in CWPPRA there was the River Reintroduction in the Maurepas Swamp. They’re based with the same identical project because the CWPPRA project had funding. We went in the early design through that, so that was the channel we took and now we’re going to finish design with the Restore Act money that we have.
Jacques: So Brad, you were talking a little bit about the importance of this area. I mean, tell us what has happened to it over time that has caused it to kind of become a little more degraded and why is it threatened in the future?
Brad: Right. Well mainly it’s the disconnect from the river and that’s in name, The River Reintroduction in the swamp and we had to reconnect that river, and the lack of river input over time has reduced the influx of fine sediments which has led to increased subsidence. The lack of fresh water and nutrients has led to a decrease in plant productivity along with salt water intrusion. As a result, vast areas of the swamp have been slowly converting to marsh and open water. Part of the challenge is that a coastal swamp, it takes a really long time to grow and a really long time to die, so we don’t see some of these changes as clearly as we do with other wetland sites. When a storm comes and knocks out a bunch of marsh and you go out the next year where you went fishing and there used to be an island there and it’s gone, people can really see that and relate to it, but this swamp really is a lot of the trees are still there. They’re just not as healthy so it’s a slow, slow dying process and that’s what makes this project very unique.
Simone: Yeah, and those trees are important storm buffers, right, but Brad, this is not, Jacques and I talk a lot about diversions on this show. We talk a lot about sediment diversions but this is not designed to be a sediment diversion, correct?
Brad: That’s correct. It’s mainly a freshwater diversion. Now some of the fine sediments will make it to the swamp, but it’s not designed as a land building diversion. The main benefits will come from the fresh water and the nutrients in the water, and the fresh water it can offset some of the salinity but also it can just flush out some of that stagnant water in the swamp, so it has a lot of different benefits.
Jacques: And when we talk about coastal restoration we’re often talking about areas in Plaquemines parish and Terrebonne and Calcasieu, Vermilion, I mean, this area affects so many parishes. I mean, even up into Baton Rouge, right, so can you talk a little bit about the importance to …
Simone: St. John’s, St. James, yes.
Jacques: Exactly. River parishes leading up into the greater Baton Rouge area in terms of storm surge protection.
Brad: Right. Again, this swamp plays a critical role in storm surge protection. Again, it’s something that, it’s slowly losing its function and converting to some swamp and at the water. It’s not something we see immediately but it is, it does cover St. James, St. John to Ascension parish to the, and a lot of those parishes we don’t really see a lot of coastal projects in and this is a really unique one and something special with, we have a lot of local support on, so it’s really good to be, and you need to working in those areas. We’re looking forward to moving it forward.
Simone: Good. So Brad, let’s keep talking about some project features. So you’ll have a structure at the river, right? At the actual Mississippi River itself, and then you’ll have a channel. How fast will you move water through that channel?
Brad: Okay, so there’ll be a gated structure at the river and the first about two miles of the channel will be nearly excavated and then just north of Airline Highway is where Hope Canal starts, and Hope Canal is basically collects a few roadside ditches and it’s a drainage canal and all the water in that area drains from the river and north towards the lake. So there’ll be about three more miles for a total of five and half miles of conveyance channel from the river to the swamp just north of I-10, and from there the water will distribute into the swamp, and we have some features designed to help the water flow through the swamp better. We’ve learned a lot in early modeling how to, where’s the water going to go and getting it to parts of the swamp most effectively, but those are the main features. There’s some infrastructure crossings. There’s River Road, Airline Highway, a couple of railroads, a bunch of …
Simone: The easy stuff. Again, Brad, you like the easy stuff.
Brad: Yeah, the easy stuff. There’s pipelines and utilities, so there’s a lot of logistics to work out, but we’ve covered a lot of those in preliminary design and we have to finalize the design, will be dealing with a lot of those things.
Simone: And I tease you about easy stuff, right? But we know that all of that is very complicated and it literally takes years of planning and working with stakeholders and working with parishes to try to put a project like this on the ground literally, but it goes to show how important it is to that swamp to have this fresh water to be able to move it five and a half miles to where it needs to go, but frankly we live in a world today where it has, we live in coastal Louisiana. This is our working coast and so it’s not, we have railroads here. We have highways here and so that’s a reality that we also have to deal with is how do we deal with these challenges and how do we make sure that we’re doing everything we can for the greater good which in this case is restoring the system back to where it should be naturally.
Brad: Absolutely. Those are all great points and that’s part of the reason why permitting and land rights is also part of getting a project construction ready, so the next couple years there’s just some activities that we have to finalize. It’s not just getting a set of plans and specifications. It’s getting those permits and those land rights in place, and like you said, that takes time, but we’re anticipating about three years from now from receiving these restore act funds to having the project construction ready.
Jacques: And Brad, from what I understand from the 2017 coastal master plan, this is one of other kind of diversions that are a little bit further up river, correct? Can you talk a little bit about why that is so important to even have those diversions further up river when there’s obviously so much focus on the ones that are down river in Plaquemines parish?
Brad: Exactly, so this is, and a lot of our projects further up river are not just diversions. We have other projects that with coastal swamps to just reconnect and fix the hydrology of those areas. We have a project in the Des Allemands Swamp called the Hydrologic Restoration and eventually a planting in Des Allemands. We have some river gapping which is connected to the Maurepas Swamp but it’s a little further north and that put some gaps and some spoil banks and allowed water to get in and out of the swamp, so whether you’re reconnecting a river or just fixing older hydrology there are a lot of other projects further up river that aim to do that.
Simone: Well, Brad, we are so grateful to have you on the show today to talk about Maurepas and also to thank you for all your other great work with Caminada and for your work with the state.
Welcome back. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches. We’re discussing Louisiana’s coast, its people, wildlife and jobs and why restoring it matters. This is Jacques Hebert with Audubon Louisiana.
Simone: And I’m Simone Maloz with Restore or Retreat. That was a good segment with Brad.
Jacques: Yeah, it was great having Brad on and hearing about this really important project and we’re going to continue the conversation on Maurepas with one of our favorite repeat guests.
Simone: Repeat guest. Rebecca, that’s an honor with us, right, to be on the show for repeat, so welcome back to Delta Dispatches.
Jacques: We don’t ask everyone back. We shouldn’t say that though.
Simone: Yeah, right, right. We shouldn’t. So Rebecca Triche is the executive director for Louisiana Wildlife Federation since 2012. She has more than 18 years of experience in non-profit management and has worked for other friends of the coalition to restore coastal Louisiana, National Wildlife Federation and Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation. She’s also worked for the Department of State and is a returned Peace Corps volunteer. Welcome to the show, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Well, thanks for having me again. I feel privileged.
Simone: Those people that we don’t ask back are going to tell us something one day. You know that, Jacques.
Jacques: I know. I know. We might need to have to go through and just start asking everyone back. No.
Simone: So Rebecca, welcome back to the show. Why don’t you remind us about the good work of Louisiana Wildlife Federation?
Rebecca: Well, thanks. I think we’ve got so many gigs and focus and projects that we work on that I think we make a great repeat visitor for your show.
Simone: I agree.
Rebecca: Yeah. So we are a statewide organization. We have affiliate organizations around the state, so it helps us keep our fingers on the pulse, get information what’s happening, not just coastal focused but forested, the piney woods up north and issues from saltwater fisheries to freshwater fisheries to black bear to the problems of feral hogs and so it’s a good comprehensive view. We do a lot of policy work, advocacy, at the legislature to different commissions and agencies. We have a good, how would you say that, our bench is strong.
Simone: You have a diverse portfolio of hogs and bears.
Rebecca: Yes. Former government people, just concerned citizens who see what’s happening and want to learn more and educate themselves and have a lot to offer at the local level, in the municipal contacts and it’s just a great way to bring people together to focus on conservation.
Simone: And last time we talked you were having an award ceremony and you were having a fundraiser, too, so that you have an annual award ceremony that’s kind of the coastal prom, right? Coastal award show.
Rebecca: Well, I think for, it’s the statewide honor I think for folks who are doing work in coastal as well as around the state and southeast Louisiana, well south Louisiana really is so dominated by coastal issues, but every year and this is our 54th year I think.
Simone: Whoa, nice.
Rebecca: For conservation achievement acknowledgment and what excites me and I probably said this the last time, too, is we get these nominations in and you just see what people are doing. They’re quietly making some really good work happen, doing a lot of protective or preservation or conservation efforts in their part of the state and just their influence is often not acknowledged or celebrated, so it’s a good example for many of us to follow. It keeps us heartened and so I really like that about the program and we’ll have the nominations open in November.
Simone: Oh, nice. Good timing.
Jacques: Yeah, we’ll definitely have to remind folks of that and let them know where to go to nominate and I’ll say I’ve been in many people’s offices who have had the beautiful kind of carved trophies or kind of statues of different wildlife animals from Louisiana and my immediate thought when I see that is okay, this is someone I need to listen to and pay attention to, but Rebecca, kind of getting to the topic at hand, so we were talking to Brad Miller about the Maurepas freshwater diversion. Tell us a little bit about Louisiana Wildlife Federation’s involvement with the project and why for you all it’s such an important project.
Rebecca: Well, it’s of interest to several of our affiliate organizations around the Maurepas Swamp, so when you’re talking about really Maurepas’ important for protection to metro Baton Rouge, but when you’re talking about Ascension and Livingstone and St. John and St. James, we have members who work or, and live in those parishes who have seen that swamp deteriorate, the subsidence as well as not being renourished with fresh water and sediment and nutrients from the river and so many of those people have just spent all of their lives around it or in that swamp and it’s so big, I mean, I think people don’t realize how vast it is, so there’s a lot of ways you can enter it, though you kind of have to know how to really get into the area, but those people are members who have kept the issue alive for us.
And personally, I remember going to a meeting about this project in 2002, so it was in St. John parish and talked about using Hope Canal and there was a lot of enthusiasm for it then. And the folks did not forget that, and so I think that this project is being met with a lot of enthusiasm for it, but perhaps the details haven’t, we need to shine a light on the details, what they can expect about timelines for planning and construction, how it might be managed once it’s built and other details, so the time is right for it and I think people are receptive to it.
Jacques: You’re right and I mean, I mentioned it earlier but I’ve been kayaking a few times in the Maurepas Swamp and taken out of town visitors there. It’s just such a beautiful iconic representation of what you think about when you think about coastal Louisiana and they’ve all had a great time, so highly recommend that, and great to see I mean, that progress being made, right? That’s something that folks talk about. We need to get these projects done, construct it quickly and to see that this is being kind of teed up and there’s funding coming through is really welcome.
Simone: And Rebecca, you have a great board, right? You have tremendous support from your board, but you just lost a big advocate. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Rebecca: Sure. We, a long time board member and a former president Edgar Villion who’s from the New Orleans area from Metairie, passed away in the summer and he was active on our board of directors since the sixties, and he was also active in the formation of Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, so he was one of the few that was really the bridge for those organizations that came out of concerns for our group and some others to focus on issues that we could see needed work, and so I think he’s a really good representation of how a citizen, he was in the insurance industry, but he liked to duck hunt and he was outdoors a lot and so he made that connection of how he could play a part as a citizen giving input, serving on commissions, serving on boards for non-profit organizations like Restore or Retreat or Louisiana Wildlife Federation, that people can make a difference there and that we do need folks from all perspectives participating in the process for making decisions about coastal restoration projects at local or state level in organizations that are looking at something and concerned and want to weigh in.
And so, when you see someone like Edgar who spent decades devoted to that, it’s another inspirational point for me and others.
Simone: Yeah. I love that Edgar and his legacy is really that you can be a change and you can do what you can to help these organizations. You and I are similar as executive directors to know that we’re so supported by our boards and that our everyday work couldn’t be possible without their leadership and without them stepping in on issues and sometimes doing the heavy lift when needed. Rebecca, we have to go into a break but will you tell everybody how they can get more information about Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Twitter, Facebook, those kinds of things, just remind everybody before we go to break.
Rebecca: Sure. So our, sorry, our website is lawildlifefed.org, so that’s fed which is short for federation. And there’s a lot of information there about our positions. You can do some research if you want to look around there. Our resolutions and why we support what we do and the way that we are fulfilling that work and we are on Facebook. It’s Louisiana Wildlife Federation, and we have about 10,000 followers that we try to keep that educated about what we’re doing, what our affiliate organizations are doing, so if you don’t live necessarily in New Orleans, you can find out other activities around the state and then we’re on Twitter and we have lacamo.org is also another site that’s really coastal focused.
Simone: We want to talk about Camo when you get back. So if you don’t mind holding on with us through the break. This is Simone Maloz and you’re listening to Delta Dispatches every Thursday on 990 WGSO.
Jacques: Welcome back. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches. We’re discussing Louisiana’s coast, it’s people, wildlife and jobs and why restoring it matters. I’m Jacques Hebert with Audubon Louisiana.
Simone: And I’m Simone Maloz with Restore or Retreat. My microphone’s making Halloween noises.
Jacques: We’re going to have to okay, well let’s do it. We’re going to go straight into the fun question first. So Rebecca, what was your favorite all time Halloween costume?
Simone: Like what did little Rebecca dress up like for Halloween?
Rebecca: I don’t remember which one I liked. I mean, I think we had kind of the clown and the gypsy and I’m just trying to, I think we had a little clown outfit, me and my sister that we wore in parades.
Simone: Not a scary clown, huh?
Rebecca: And I’m not going to go into whether they’re not all scary, but I believe a clown outfit was probably my favorite because it stands out and so yeah. But I’ve had some fun adult …
Simone: That’s what we were talking about, Rebecca. Uh-huh.
Jacques: We’ll have to talk about that offline. Yeah, and you know, it’s so fun just going through old family photos with your sisters and siblings. I mean, look at when you wore that. Well, getting back into the subject matter, Rebecca, let’s talk a little bit about the Maurepas freshwater diversion in the Maurepas Swamp. Why is that area so important to wildlife and what wildlife really depend on the habitat that it provides?
Rebecca: Well, I think there’s a big recreational use of that area and so to have wildlife like white tailed deer and rabbit hunting, you’ve got to have a healthy habitat, so you can find game animals waterfowl that’s in the migratory path so you see a lot of ducks. It was really well known for duck hunting, but that’s declined, and that has to do with the decline in the habitat in terms of just more covered in water because of subsidence, more salt water intrusion and some changes in the type of habitat from bald cypress tupelo from more fresh water or open water scenarios. So, you had that recreational use and then also you’ve got a lot of rivers that empty into Lake Maurepas and so you have Blind River, a very beautiful and historic access to the area and you can put in off of Airline Highway, and have a nice paddle trip or a boat trip headed toward Ama diversion, but you can see a part of that swamp so you can see a lot of migratory bird particularly in the spring. I understand that while a lot of species even butterflies as well as migratory birds.
Simone: I love the conversation about butterflies that are migratory. I’ve heard of that more this year than in any other year I think.
Rebecca: Well come to find out when they migrate back in the spring, instead of just hightailing it to Mexico like they seem to do in the fall, in the spring they’re offspring, once stop over is in this swamp, and so you can see a lot of that, so for non-consumptive users, bird watchers and paddlers, this is a really great area, but it also has a lot of game species, too. And that’s what makes it uniquely Louisiana.
Jacques: And I’ve loved seeing them and there’s so many times it’s so easy when you’re just driving in between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and I’ve seen bald eagles circling around that area and it’s just a reminder of how important it is to so many species and really the, in certain ways the recovery that that species has experienced.
Rebecca: Yeah, you can see the deer crossing the interstate particularly in the fall is when I noticed that you got to be careful right after sundown, so yeah. So you’re taking off down 10 or up 55 or on 12, you’re basically circling the swamp and all of those people that live around there from Laplace, Hammond, Denham Springs, Gonzalez, really even Baton Rouge are on the edge of this second largest forested wetland in Louisiana. I mean, it’s second to the Atchafalaya in terms of just area of swamp and forested wetland, so it’s beneficial in multiple ways. That’s why it’s really important to get it back to some kind of sustainability and growth and our folks are optimistic about this project and I think it represents some of the best of the things that we can do that will help the coastal area because the coast is closer than you think.
Simone: Exactly. Yeah, I like that you just kind of outlined hey, by the way, you pass this all the time. We say that about Bayou [inaudible 00:36:00], right? They don’t notice so much because you’re blowing by at 65 miles an hour or 40 if you’re behind a cane truck, but Rebecca, you mentioned it before the break. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Louisiana’s Camo Coalition, what it is, who should be involved and what kind of activities they take part in?
Rebecca: Sure, so that’s our way to keep the focus on coastal restoration and so we ask people to sign up and support and many people are aware of the problem and want to show their support and then we sign them up to get notices about what’s emerging in coastal restoration, the annual plan process, the five year process for the coastal master plan updates or ways that they can take action. So it’s an easy link for them to tell their leaders that if they’re concerned about say the funding changes on GOMESA when there was an attempt to reduce the funding that was going to come to the state despite all of the promises for that act passed years ago, and just other ways to show support for when some of these things are before committees or commissions. It’s just an easy way to follow it and do that. So that’s bringing together people of a sportsman interest or sports women interest and so that’s a way that they can come quickly go find out what’s happening and take some action and be helpful in that way.
Jacques: Yeah, certainly, and I know when we were, had efforts in terms of supporting the master plan as well as protecting GOMESA that you and your colleagues at Louisiana Wildlife Federation did a lot to bring voices to those efforts whether it was sign on letters to the administration or ads showing support for the master plan. I would always see you and Stacy kind of at all the key meetings for the master plan and annual plan so of course, I’ll, all of our organizations appreciate that support.
Simone: And different voices. I love that, that you guys have them on the ready, too, so Rebecca we do have to wrap up the show. Do you have any events coming up, anything you want to talk about and remind folks again where they can find more information about the Camo Coalition and Louisiana Wildlife Federation.
Jacques: Where can they go to support Louisiana Wildlife Federation?
Rebecca: Yeah, so they can go to our website. It’s lawildlifefed.org, and we keep it updated with ways to take action, what activities we’re doing. I wanted to point out we have youth hunter of the year awards and it’s for 15 or younger female and male, so we give awards for boy and girl for a story about a hunt whether or not it was successful. If it’s a picture and a story about how much they enjoyed being outside, what they learned new, who they spent it with and whether they were successful or not, that’s one way to keep that heritage going, and I just know that there’s a lot of us in Louisiana that if we’re not right now hunting or fishing, we’re just from a family that does, and so that’s one of the things that we’re promoting just acknowledge that. I think, after 77 years we’re about to, in a few days, we will celebrate our I guess 78th year of incorporation and we’re still pushing for the folks that spend time outside to understand the connection between what they love and the need for conservation.
Jacques: Absolutely, and what better way to kind of introduce the youth to those issues and kind of introduce them to the environment which they live than through those efforts. Well, Rebecca, thank you so much for being on the show.
Simone: Thank you, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Thanks for the invitation. I always like to get our organization out there shining and showing what we’re doing and we love collaborating with all you guys.
Simone: We’ll definitely help you get the information out about your statewide award ceremony, too, so yeah, we’ll be happy to share that on the air and through our social media, too, so thank you, Rebecca. I hope you have a happy Halloween.
Rebecca: Y’all too. And everybody out there.
Jacques: Speaking of Halloween, so our partners at Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation have their New Canal Lighthouse haunted house.
Simone: I love that. What a cute idea.
Jacques: October 29th from 4 to 6 PM. It’s at the New Canal Lighthouse, 8001 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans.
Simone: They’re going to have storytelling and arts and crafts. They’re going to have games. They’re going to have music and costumes and they better have some candy.
Jacques: Oh, yeah. I think they’re going to have what is it? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for Brad.
Simone: So it’s five dollars for folks but I know that they’re also looking for volunteers, too, to help out so if you go to saveourlake.org they have some information there. They also have some information about their lecture series which happens at their lighthouse. Their next lecture is November 1st at 6 o’clock. They have some more information there, too.
Jacques: Yeah. Speaking of Maurepas and Manchac, they’re continuing their 10,000 Trees for Louisiana. There are a lot of opportunities coming up. I’m actually going out on the 4th with the Crescent City Rugby Team.
Simone: I love it. How’s you all’s game this weekend? Is it a game, a match?
Jacques: We had a game last weekend. I survived. I didn’t break anything.
Simone: I was worried. They’re rough.
Jacques: We didn’t win. We didn’t win. But it was our first game so you know, it’s all up from here.
Simone: It was an emotional win.
Jacques: So we’re getting the big rugby players out in the marsh to do planting.
Simone: I love it. I love it. And we were just talking about how beautiful that area is and maybe you don’t kayak there. Maybe you want to be part of it. This is a good way to do it, so 10,000 Trees for Louisiana on November 2nd at 9 AM. You can go to the coalition’s website.
Jacques: All right. Another great show. Thank you for listening. This has been Delta Dispatches on WGSO 990 AM.
Simone: Happy Halloween!