Delta Dispatches: Sitting Down with the St. Bernard Parish Coastal Division
On today’s show John Lane and Jerry Graves from the St. Bernard Parish Coastal Division join Jacques and Simone to talk about the progress on the rebuilding and coastal front, particularly since Hurricane Katrina in St. Bernard Parish, The Biloxi Marsh Oyster Reef restoration, the Chandeleur Islands & the efforts to restore these islands, their event “Cook-Off for the Coast” on November 18th and much more!
Below is a transcript of this week’s Delta Dispatches Podcast. Subscribe to our feed in iTunes and Google Play.
Simone: And I’m Simone Maloz with Restore or Retreat. Hello.
Jacques: Hi, Simone. Good to be back.
Simone: Yeah, yeah. It always feels like we haven’t been in here in a while.
Jacques: It’s been a busy week last week. We were out on the coast filming, a lot going on.
Simone: Yeah. So this week alone I’ve been to Buras, Port Fourchon and Baton Rouge and the week’s not over yet. So how about you, too? You’ve been some crazy places.
Jacques: Yeah, I’ve been around. Well, last week was basically sunrise to sunset filming trips, literally. We were out at kind of Cocodrie at LUMCON. Dr. Alex Kolker who we’ve had on the show showed us around there. We went out to Whiskey Island to see the restoration site and it’s really impressive and beautiful, massive, and then the next day we were actually out in the Atchafalaya Basin and kind of seeing Wax Lake Delta and all of that, so really beautiful, just amazing to be out there and kind of see things first hand.
Simone: Again, really kind of funny. You’re touring the coast in such beautiful weather, right, huh?
Simone: Anything to get out of the office?
Jacques: Yeah, exactly. Has nothing to do with the fact that it’s so nice out right now and cooler, but yeah, November’s a great time to be out on the coast.
Simone: So, we were talking before the show. You also did a plane thing.
Jacques: That’s right. So, I’ve mentioned to my rugby team the Crescent City Rougaroux before we actually went out. We had a group of about 20 of us on the team, probably 50 total for the day and we were out planting trees in Manchac with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. It was a great day, beautiful weather, probably my team alone planted about 125 trees.
Simone: Oh, wow.
Jacques: And then the group in total planted about 600.
Simone: So for your team, is it what they thought it was going to be?
Jacques: I told them they’re prepared to get muddy and we’re used to getting muddy, but people like getting their boots stuck in the mud, falling over, but everyone had a really good attitude about it, was very excited, really, really enjoyed being out there.
Simone: Had they been to that area before?
Jacques: No. Not at all. If you’re driving between New Orleans and Baton Rouge you kind of see some of these places or if you go on I-55, but to actually be out and see it first hand and then say like wow, I’m going to help plant trees to restore this area, it’s such an amazing experience and one that they’re ready to get back out and do it again. So, we were just really grateful for the opportunity with Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and I can’t recommend it more highly enough.
Simone: So was it easier or harder than your first real game that you’ve had to play?
Jacques: Oh, that’s a good question. I would say it was, it probably required more stamina but it was less bruising.
Simone: Good answer. Good answer. So what are we going to talk about today?
Jacques: Well, today we are so excited to have representatives from the St. Bernard parish coastal division on the show. Obviously St. Bernard parish coastal issues is front and center. They are just like in many parishes across our coast, and we want to talk to them just about that experience, their jobs, what they do day to day, but also highlight a really great event that’s coming up, Cook-off for the Coast.
Simone: So have we determined if it’s okay for me the outsider to call it the parish or not?
Jacques: The parish.
Simone: Or da parish? Yeah.
Jacques: Well see at the end of the show. Yeah.
Simone: No? Like I need to get certified to be able to say that?
Jacques: Yeah. I know. All right. So we have again from the St. Bernard Parish Coastal Division, John Lane who’s coastal manager and Jerry Graves, coastal advisor. Welcome to Delta Dispatches.
Jerry: Hey, thanks for having us.
John: Thank you.
Jerry: Glad to be hear.
Simone: So is this, so I have to go through the whole show to determine if I pass the test or not, or no?
John: Yeah, we got to, we’ll see how you do.
Simone: I’ll still always have that home accent, never …
John: That’s doesn’t help you. I can promise you.
Jacques: Well, Simone, I will say I actually talked to Simone after the CPRA board meeting that was at Chalmette High School and she said it was one of the best board meetings she’s ever attended, that you all rolled out the red carpet.
Simone: You all had breakfast and lunch.
John: Yeah, we’re extremely proud of that.
Simone: And music and the best seats, by the way. You sat through many CPRA meetings I know, and it’s like very uncomfortable.
John: We’ve actually got no money left to do anything kind of coastal restoration because of it.
Simone: Well, actually it was a really great way to show off the school and I bet you all have some of those resources. It was awesome.
John: We’re really proud of what we put on and showing everybody what we have to offer down there, and particularly the school. That facility is absolutely amazing.
John: And we wanted to showcase it and I think people really got a good impression of what St. Bernard has, where we are right now coming back from hurricane Katrina, and our school system is outstanding. The facilities are amazing.
Simone: Talk about like set the standard.
John: Yeah. Absolutely.
Simone: I mean, so CPRA does this roadshow where they go to different places and even poor St. Mary who had it after that, they never had breakfast before.
Jacques: Tough act to follow.
Simone: They had like their little food display.
Jerry: For the record, Morgan City did have donuts.
John: But that’s what the people of St. Bernard parish are. When you come to our home, we’re going to welcome you and we’re going to put on a great show and make sure everyone has a great time. And that’s what we were trying to accomplish, and I think we did that.
Simone: Yeah. Mission accomplished. Great job, guys. So, tell us a little bit about each one of yourselves, like just tell us about your background and that kind of stuff.
John: Okay. Well, you know, well I guess we’re here to talk about coastal restoration, and I am completely new to this …
Simone: I heard you can talk basketball, too, though, right?
John: Well, no. I can. I don’t know how good it is, but I’m completely new to this. I’ve been in this about two years now and I’ve gotten a lot of help from Jerry and President McGinnis, but my background is marketing and sales and I was in private business as well, so when Guy got in office he wanted to try and bring kind of a sales pitch and a marketing aspect to …
Simone: Real world aspect, too, yeah.
John: Yeah, there’s a lot of money being thrown around here and involved and we need to bring that money and market St. Bernard and show why we deserve it and that was kind of the whole angle for Guy having me involved. On the other hand, we bring in Jerry and Captain George Ricks who has the knowledge and the background and has been involved in coastal restoration for a long, long period of time.
Simone: So, Jerry, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Jerry: Yeah, so I really come from a public policy background and I spent about ten years working in the public sector. In 2015, I started my own firm and one of the first contracts that I signed was with St. Bernard parish to come back and work with the coastal office. I served basically more of a program management role supporting what John does, and we spend a lot of our days sort of shaking all those money trees. There are so many different buckets of money that are out there now, which is a really good problem to have, but making sure that the parish is sort of plugged into all of those pots …
Simone: Yeah, and they’re all different, right? Some you can only spend on this.
Jerry: They are.
Simone: Some you can spend on that.
Jerry: That’s right.
Simone: But I appreciate that then you have to know where it is and you have to able to make the pitch for whichever pot of money that is.
Jerry: Absolutely. So we’re trying to make the most of our opportunities. I’ve been around long enough to remember the days where there was not a lot of funding for coastal restoration activities and now it’s almost an embarrassment of riches because there are so many opportunities, so working with the parish to prioritize those things, shake those money trees and start implementation. That’s really what we’ve been focused on so far.
Jacques: And John, I can really appreciate what you’re saying in terms of that mix of kind of the business sense, the marketing, the outreach and the science, right? And I think we certainly appreciate that in our organizations, that you need so much of the work is science driven, policy driven, but it’s people that are affected by it and people that are needing to engage and understand it, so it’s just so important to have kind of the dual aspects.
John: Yeah, without a doubt. St. Bernard parish is a huge fishing community and seafood industry, and we see coastal restoration as a whole entire community. It’s not just one department. So we really listen to what our fisherman have to say and the impacts that may come from any kind of restoration, so we’re in touch with all those guys. We’re trying to relay their message, our message, so it’s a big community effort that we’ve got going on there.
Jacques: So tell us what is a typical day like for either of you in the Coastal Division. Are you out often kind of in the marshes?
Simone: Do you take as many field trips as Jacques?
Jerry: We try. We’re trying to.
John: We try to. We had a couple this week actually. You know, it’s funny because a lot of times what we want to go do and get out there in the field, the majority of the time is we’re sending emails, we’re working, we’re grinding and we’re trying to do, it’s not easy, trying to touch as many people as we can to try and find those resources, but the other hand is we’re out there in the field, talking to the fishermen, getting their concerns, collecting propagules from mangroves. It all sounds like a lot of fun, but until you get volunteers out there, they realize it’s a different game. So we’re involved with a lot of stuff.
Jerry: You almost never know where we’re going to be, and this is really confusing to my children because sometimes they wake up in the morning and papa’s wearing a shirt and tie. Sometimes they wake up and I’m packing up hip boots into my truck, and so there’s a really nice combination of field work and policy work and grant applications and community outreach and we try to run the gamut at St. Bernard.
Jacques: Well, I guess, you’re pretty popular probably then for career day at the schools, right? When you can talk about all that. So we’re about to head into a break, but I definitely want to talk more about some of the volunteer opportunities and other stuff that’s going on but also this event, so we’ll be right back after the break. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches on WGSO 990 AM.
Jacques: And we’re back. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches on WGSO 990 AM available online at deltadispatches.org. We are here with St. Bernard parish coastal division. John Lane, who’s coastal manager and Jerry Graves, coastal advisor. Before the break we were just talking about what the typical day is like, but John, I know you mentioned sort of the progress that’s happened in St. Bernard and really kind of almost like a renaissance since hurricane Katrina. We have grocery stores open up and the school is just a showcase of education. Tell us a little bit about obviously so many of our areas but St. Bernard was so hardest hit by hurricane Katrina and Rita. How has it been since then, the last 10, 12 years and what has been the progress that you’ve seen since Katrina?
John: Yeah, well, we’re, every day’s getting better and we’re growing and we’re growing and we’re seeing property values right now that are just going through the roof. We’ve got an arts district in Arabi that is just skyrocketing. We got homes popping up everywhere and beautiful homes. It’s a great place for a young family to come start out.
Simone: Yeah. I love some of those commercials recently, like I love that about the sounds, like I love that, and then why would I not live so close to downtown and not have to deal with downtown? So I love that.
Jacques: It’s literally so close.
John: Yeah, we kind of slip that in a little bit, but one of the things though is down in the eastern end of the parish is what we call down the road, and if you’ve been to St. Bernard there’s up the road and there’s down the road, so we’re going to talk about down the road.
Simone: I’m writing this down. I’m writing this down for new parish test.
Jacques: Quiz at the end of the show.
John: Exactly. If you want to be an honorary St. Bernardian, you got to know the difference between up the road and down the road. So what’s happened was, we’ve had a big community down in Delacroix but since the storm, those guys have kind of got wiped out, so now they live within the levee district, but it’s still not home for those guys even though they’re in St. Bernard parish, their life, their community, their generational, that’s gone for them. There’s an influx of a lot of camps and recreational fishermen and look, that’s great for us, but those guys seem a mile away, so we’re kind of concentrating on doing some resiliency down in the Delacroix area particularly, and we got a lot of traction there. We’re elevating the road. We got a corporate project that’s in the mix right now. We’re working on a bunch of different things and we’re really excited about that. That’s one of the things, but overall the parish is growing. We’re the fifth fastest growing parish in the state.
Jacques: I saw that. There’s a recent report that came out of that showed that.
Jerry: On that note, I come from a background in urban planning and one of the sort of sexy buzzwords over the past ten years or so has been resilience, and I really think that you have to look no further than eastern St. Bernard and communities like Delacroix which have really been a picture of resilience, not in a way that’s measured in years or even decades but really centuries. You are talking about a community that’s dealt with land loss where they used to raise cattle and they had to adjust to the fisheries. They used to do trapping and for a number of reasons they had to adjust and so now of course we’re dealing with relative sea level rise, climate change, et cetera, of course tropical weather events and so this is really a continuation of centuries of resilience in St. Bernard parish, and I feel that one of the charges for John and I is promoting coastal restoration activities in a way that continues that legacy and really perpetuates this community that’s been around since the late 1700s, and that’s really important to us.
John: We’ve been a resilient community before Katrina.
Jacques: Before the resilience buzzword came about.
John: Exactly. Yeah, that’s true.
Simone: Jerry, you mentioned that you have a background in urban planning, right? So, you would know, right?
Simone: Yeah, so do you still teach?
Jerry: I do, but not at UNO. I’m at Tulane.
Simone: At Tulane? Okay.
Jerry: And not in planning. I actually teach emergency management which is another area where we discuss resilience and disaster risk reduction and other similar concepts.
Jacques: And just preparedness. I mean, it’s so, for the most part, we were fortunate this hurricane season, although obviously so many places across the Gulf were devastated, but you know, just with each coming season you just have to be prepared and ready, and I think public information, public awareness, the resources available to people. We’ve had representatives from GOHSEP on the show prior to talk about that have just really improved so much and just with technology as well.
Simone: They really kind of go hand in hand, right? Like you got to plan for it and then you got to be able to react to it and like I said that’s kind of both part of the St. Bernard story moving forward, right?
Jerry: We’re getting pretty good at it.
Simone: Yeah. Yeah, no kidding.
Jacques: Well, let’s talk a little bit about some of the projects that you guys really focus on. Obviously, you mentioned the funding sources that are available and the coastal master plan that outlines various projects. What about the Chandeleur Islands, right? Is that a project the … CPRA’s done a lot to restore various barrier islands around the coast especially in Terrebonne, Lafourche. Tell us a little bit about the Chandeleur Islands, what happened there and what kind of is the plan to restore them.
John: Well, I’ll start and you can finish, Jerry, so obviously it’s our first line of defense, and if you ask the majority of people in St. Bernard parish, that’s where we need to begin is the Chandeleur. We had just put a proposal together for a 3.5 million dollar project to fencing and revegetation on the Chandeleur Islands. We’re hoping we get some traction with that. Our fingers are crossed, but that’s where we kind of stand right now. We wish there was more focus through the master plan for the Chandeleur. Unfortunately there isn’t for whatever reasons, but we feel that that’s our first line of defense and maybe building outside in is the way we should go, and so hopefully we could start here with the fencing and the revegetation to try and get that island intact which is so important to St. Bernard parish.
Jerry: Yeah, John is right. There’s a pretty substantial population that lives outside of the levee system and so any sort of discussion involving hurricane protection, they’re not interested in levees because they’re living outside of that. They’re really interested in the barrier islands, and so I guess making lemons with lemonade, we know that the CPRA is sort of risk adverse when it comes to investing in large scale dredging projects out on the barrier islands, so we’ve put together a smaller scale project that’s really focused on fencing and vegetation. We know that a lot of sediment was dredged up for the emergency berm that was done in response to the BP oil spill, and so we feel that this fencing and vegetation would sort of capitalize on that by providing a means by which some of that sediment may be trapped and regenerate into the islands themselves.
Simone: So what kind of plants would you vegetate it with? We were talking about some plants during the break, too.
John: I can barely pronounce half of them. There’s a few different scales. There’s some more grassy materials that we can sort of on the outside, and then of course things like black mangroves on the dunes themselves, and there’s some other aquatic vegetation that would be planted on the back marsh and of course, the sand fencing being laid out just sort of hold the whole thing together, and so if the state is not going to fund the large scale dredging projects, we don’t necessarily agree with that, but we understand, but we want to do what we can in the meantime and we’re really hoping that this NRDA project will get funded so we can do that.
Jerry: Keep in mind, if we get the unfavorable wind the wrong direction, we’d get water on the road down there in the Shell Beach area that we’ve never seen before in such a great fashion that comes up so fast. I mean, it’s just, it’s unbelievable to see. I mean, there is …
Simone: Because the lack of defenses and …
Jerry: That’s exactly right. We attribute it to that.
Jacques: Yeah, and I mean, obviously that’s something that we’re seeing across the coast, right? Just with some of these communities that maybe they flooded during hurricanes but now it’s high tides, high winds.
Jerry: Exactly right. They’re vulnerable.
Jacques: Right. I want to talk a lot about, I want to talk about the Cook-off for the Coast when we come back and also again, get into some of these volunteer opportunities. We’re having so much information to talk to you guys about. Where can people go to learn more about St. Bernard coastal division, St. Bernard coastal issues.
John: Well, St. Bernard parish seb.net, you can click on our homepage and then go to the coastal department and you’ll see our entire, all our plans, all our documents and you can get a pretty good idea of what we’re all about on that site.
Jacques: Awesome. Well we will be right back with John Lane and Jerry Graves, St. Bernard coastal division right after the break. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches on WGSO 990 AM.
Jacques: All right. We’re 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. We should have like a whole other sideline podcast on what happens during the break.
Jacques: I think some people do that. It’s like after the show, during the break.
Simone: Yeah, we’ve had some great conversation.
Jacques: Good conversation.
Simone: So, Jerry, John, just repeat everything you told me and say it again.
Jacques: So I think it’s time for the fun question, and this also might be a test for Simone whether you get your parish card or not. All right. You have one meal left that you can eat at Rocking Carlos’. What would it be?
John: I got one meal left at Rocking Carlos’. Well, here’s …
Simone: Watch how he repeats that to buy time.
John: The great thing about Rocking Carlos’. It’s never one meal. You’re always coming home with leftovers.
Jacques: That’s true. That’s true.
John: If that was a trick question.
Jacques: Good answer. Good answer.
Simone: That would have gotten me in.
John: You’re going to get, anybody you ask, you’re going to get different opinions on Rocky’s of what to eat there. I’m a veal cutlet guy. I’ll always be a veal cutlet guy, so that’s my answer. Veal cutlets.
Simone: Jerry, let’s hear it.
Jerry: First of all, true story, we had a veal cutlet sandwich for breakfast at Rocky’s this morning.
Jacques: Oh, my gosh.
Jerry: Eight o’clock before we went to Hopedale that is what we ate.
Jacques: I’m sure you still feel from it, too.
Jerry: I haven’t eaten since.
John: Well, they’re not really open. We just had a little meeting there and stuff and he sat us and …
John: On my, here’s the thing. On my baked macaroni I like the red gravy. On my veal cutlet I like the brown.
Jacques: That’s a good answer. Simone, have you been to Rocking Carlos’?
John: We just washed the car. You can forget about it. You’ll never get it.
Simone: I’m not going to lie. It’s pretty intimidating. Whatever you just said was just like oh, my God.
John: We’ll order for you. Just show up.
Simone: Okay. I’m down for that.
Jacques: There we go. Well we’ll do a show on the road. All right.
Simone: So do you want to finish talking about some projects? I want you to talk a little bit about Biloxi Marsh a little bit and then maybe we can talk about the event. Okay, so let’s talk about some oyster reef stuff you all got going on.
John: We went out there to the living shoreline a few weeks back. We were out there collecting some mangrove propagules and we passed the living shoreline and I would say the living shoreline’s been out there for I guess about a year now.
Jerry: It’s been completed for about a year.
Simone: I kind of remember it, right.
John: I think for about a year. It is chock full of oysters.
John: And I actually told Mr. Bradbury that it was out there and I know we’ve expressed interest to Dr. Malassau to go out there and see. We were pleasantly surprised that the product that was out there is chock full of oysters and it was just absolutely amazing. Actually Jerry took one home and left it in his truck and regretted it ever since.
Jerry: True story. True story. It didn’t smell good after that. Two days when it was 95 degrees. It was bad.
Simone: Your kids did not like that day.
John: So we think it’s working out there. We really do and there’s navigational aids out there. We’ve asked for that. That’s out there. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do and we couldn’t be happier. We’d like to see a lot more of it out there actually.
Jacques: That’s great and I mean, obviously we’ve talked about the importance of artificial reefs for reducing wave action and for the habitat it provides so it provides so many benefits, and that’s great to see the successes. So let’s talk a little bit about how people can get involved directly and help restore areas in and around St. Bernard parish. So I know you all do a lot of tree plantings. We were talking about tree plantings earlier and just how important they are and a great way to get out and understand these issues and really give back if people feel like they can’t do a lot themselves, but they really can. So, tell us a little bit about those opportunities, where you do the plantings, what you plant and then how people can get involved and volunteer.
John: Like I said earlier, I mean, we take the entire community approach to coastal restoration. With that being said, we’ve had some issues with some channels. We had some fishermen come out and said that some channels, we had some low spots or whatever, so we went out and we put some channel markers out there. So we just listen to what people will tell us. The other thing is with coastal restoration a lot of this stuff is done where it’s not visible and people can’t see it and say so what have you done lately? Those kind of things. Or how can I get involved? Well, there are some things, some ways you can get involved and one of the ways is plantings. We’ve done some mangrove planting last year. We’ve done some Cypress tree planting last year. That’s going to happen again this year. We had some problems getting volunteers last year for some of the Cypress tree plantings, but …
Simone: But it wasn’t the snake photo.
John: It was not the snake photo. It was well after the snake photo, but what we do is we engage, we, for instance, the mangroves. We went out and collected propagules. We came back and we involved Chalmette High School and a 4-H program and we’re actually warehousing those in their greenhouse. We have over 3,000 plants right now that those kids take care of and they’re involved. Those kids are going to tell the story from here on out for us. They’re going to tell their parents and they’re a great messenger. For the Caernarvon, we’ve done some Cypress tree planting on there. We’re going to do it again in that area and we’re trying to find some different polygons to do some other plantings, so it’s more visible maybe around some bike trails around the canal in the central wetlands, so we’re still working those details out right now, but it is going to happen in Wednesday, when are we doing the Cypress planting?
Jerry: That’s going to be in March.
Jacques: Please keep us posted. I mean, we’ll happy to promote that.
John: We will.
Jacques: Encourage people to get out and support you because there really is no better way to give back directly than to do something like that, and I loved what you were saying about involving students at Chalmette High and elsewhere because Simone and I have talked about this as well. I mean, the notion of a coastal literacy, a costal education for people growing up in Louisiana is so important. Sometimes whether you live within the levee or outside, I mean, you don’t always have especially if you live within the levee system, a knowledge of kind of what your surroundings are, how your environment affects you, whether that’s through a risk or even the benefits of our environment, and so anything I think we can do to kind of raise our coastal literacy as a state, particularly for children and students living in these coastal areas is so important.
Jerry: And Jacques, just to punctuate that, as you all are aware of, the large scale engineered coastal restoration projects take a really long time to be developed even when they’re funded. Engineering and design takes time. Procurement, construction, it’s a really long process and so one of the things that the parish has really committed itself to over the past couple years is while we’re waiting on the larger scale restoration projects to develop, to be in perpetual motion whether it’s community education and outreach, plantings, we’re very involved in the Crab Trap Rodeo that Lake Pontchartrain Foundation does. We’re always doing something while we’re waiting on the big things to develop and there’s a lot of programs in place and John touched on a few. Revegetation and reforestation is just one. Navigational aids is another. Beneficial use of dredge material, these are all smaller scale things that we would like to do on an annual basis while some of the bigger things materialize.
Jacques: That’s great, and we’ve had representatives from Weeks Marine and other large contracting firms on before and they’re hiring right now in Louisiana for some of these large scale projects and so the more that we can equip people with those skills to be able to take jobs and get jobs here in Louisiana on restoring the coast I think that’s a win for everyone.
John: With some of our restore money, one of our projects is workforce development through Nunez Community College in St. Bernard.
Jacques: That’s great.
Jacques: That’s awesome. Well, all right. So we have, you all are putting on and our Restore the Mississippi River Delta organization is partnering with you on an awesome event coming up on Saturday, November 18th, Cook-off for the Coast. Tell us a little bit about it and what people can expect that come out for the event.
John: Well, like Jerry had said, I mean, we’re facing all kinds of problems with our coast whether it’s subsidence, sea level rise or storm surge, but one of the things is invasive species which is hogs and nutrias and so forth. So we came up with the idea of having a cook-off for the coast with some of these invasive species. We wanted to tie it into a tailgating party with the LSU game, so we went with the hogs. So that’s what we’re doing on November 18th at Docville Farms. It is from 11 to 4 o’clock PM. Tickets are eight dollars for ages 13 and up and it’s free for children under 12, so what we’re going to do, we’re going to have, we were hoping to get nine teams. I think we’re at six teams right now, but …
Simone: I heard that Chalmette’s culinary program, Chalmette High’s culinary program’s going to be a team, too, huh?
John: Chalmette High and Nunez Community College will be there as well.
Simone: Awesome. Cool.
John: Doing some demonstration projects. We’re going to have some local chefs that’ll be doing some demonstration projects.
Simone: Nathan Richard.
Jacques: Yeah, Nathan Richard from Cavan who we’ve on the show before, and I heard, so they’re going to have some celebrity judges, correct? Actually judging the cook-off.
John: I believe so. I don’t know exactly …
Jacques: A friend told me that Poppy took over with Louisiana Eats. The first lady McGinnis.
John: Yes, that’s correct.
Jacques: And Howard Conyers who, it just says check him out on Facebook, but is this the NASA guy that engineered some sort of, I don’t know what, but it sounds interesting.
John: I think it is. I think it is.
Simone: Very cool. So the teams are going to compete, too, right? And then, but there’s also going to have some people with tables and just have information like you said …
John: They will.
Simone: … kind of make it fun atmosphere.
Jerry: Beer. Forgot to mention beer.
Jacques: Whiskey Island, er, Whiskey Bayou, right, is providing the alcohol?
Jerry: Yes, that’s right.
John: We will have a table out there and I believe CPRA’s going to be out there as well. They just reached out to us.
Simone: Very cool.
John: We’re going to have a local, I guess he’s a hog.
Simone: Hog boss? Boss Hogg. Boss Hogg.
John: Boss Hogg.
Jerry: Remember that for the trophy next time.
Simone: That’s going to be our next fun question, favorite 80s show.
John: Yeah, so he takes people on charters to kill hogs and he’ll be out there and demonstrating what he does and stuff, not exactly killing the hogs out there but showing you what he does. That’s going to be exciting. There’s going to be a lot of educational material for young kids.
Simone: Yeah, so most of our buddies CRCL, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Restore or Retreat.
Jacques: Vanishing Paradise, we’ve had on.
Simone: Vanishing Paradise.
Simone: Yeah. Wildlife and Fisheries.
Jacques: The wild boar legs are being provided by Charley’s?
Jacques: And I hear that’s a pretty cool business that he has.
John: Yeah. This guy’s pretty special.
Simone: It’s like the turkey legs at Disney World?
Jacques: I think it’s a little bigger.
John: And then so we’re going to have, we will have a first place prize based on from the judges and we’ll have a people’s choice award, so everybody who enters will have a ticket to decide.
Simone: Very cool.
John: And we just got the trophies in and they are truly amazing. There’s an artisan in St. Bernard who does a lot of metal work and stuff, Luis, and he did the trophies for us and they’re very, very beautiful.
Simone: Yeah, we’ll have to Tweet that.
Simone: And brag about it a little bit.
John: So that will be on, we’re going to blast that on Facebook. We just got them in today.
Simone: Oh, wow.
Jacques: We’re looking at the picture of the trophy and it’s really sweet. We really want to come out and see it.
Simone: Very cool, yeah.
John: The proceeds are going to go to the St. Bernard Wetland Foundation and we hope to have a project with those guys soon with some sort of planting.
Simone: Very cool.
Jacques: Well, definitely be sure to check out Cook-off for the Coast. That is November 18th at Docville Farm which is also just a beautiful property.
John: Yes, it is.
Jacques: It’s really incredible.
John: We can’t thank the Muriel Foundation enough for lending their support. They’ve been very, very helpful for everything we do in St. Bernard parish.
Simone: So cash bar, live music, silent auction, kid’s activities.
Jacques: LSU versus Tennessee.
Jacques: You won’t have to miss the game.
Simone: Yep. Okay, so we’re going to take a break right now and we’ll come back. We’ll talk to you guys just a little bit more and then we’ll wrap up the show. This is Simone Maloz. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches on WGSO 990 AM.
Jacques: All right. We’re back and you’re listening to Delta Dispatches on WGSO 990 AM. Also online at deltadispatches.org. 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 hungry. Like this always happens. We talked about the …
Jacques: Rocking Carlos.
Simone: Last time we were talking about Nathan Richard and we were talking about the freshwater dinner series at Cavan. I’m just hungry. It’s time to eat. So, thank you guys for being on with us the whole show.
Jacques: I know.
John: Thank you for having us.
Simone: It’s a badge of honor here to be a repeat guest. I’m shaking my head, but it’s really, really something that you guys have been on with us the whole show.
Jacques: Four segments. I don’t know if we’ve ever had a four segment.
Simone: I don’t think so.
John: You’re working hard to get a card.
Simone: Yeah, you are well liked around here.
Jacques: She is.
Simone: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m still working for that, too. So just to recap, so there is an event coming up and there are tickets available now. So it’s the Cook-off for the Coast and benefits the St. Bernard Wetlands Foundation. We were just talking about that they help provide a lot of the trees for some of the volunteer plantings and one of our partners in Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation helps them as well, so that’s a nice full circle.
Jacques: Speaking of Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we were talking about this during the break, I think John Lopez was on the show at one point talking about, but it’s a pretty interesting event. Tell us about the Crab Trap Rodeo that you all partner with Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation on.
Jerry: Well, last year the Crab Trap Rodeo was based out of Sweetwater Marina in Delacroix. They picked up several thousand traps. They’re sort of scaling it up this year. The goal is to pick up 18,000 traps.
Simone: Oh, wow.
Jerry: There’s going to be two separate closures and St. Bernard parish is going to be one closure north of the MRGO for a couple weeks and one south of the MRGO for a couple weeks.
Simone: And that all depends on the season and things like that. They time all that out.
Jerry: Well, the dates have already been set for the closures.
Jerry: And so actually this morning we were out on the site in Hopedale just kind of going over some logistical things, but it’s amazing the amount of crab traps that are out there. When we ran the sweep last year out of Sweetwater, there was basically a never ending influx of traps being brought to the dock, and we know that there are tens of thousands more and of course, more being lost in the water every day, so …
Simone: So what do you all do with them when you all collect them? That must be quite a pile of crab traps.
John: Yes, it is. We smash them, put them in dumpsters and haul them off to the landfill.
Jerry: But however, they are talking now of trying to do some kind of recycling program.
Simone: Yeah, what would you do with them, right?
John: Exactly. So there’s discussions right now. I know a lot of people in St. Bernard would like to see that happen.
Simone: Yeah, of course.
John: We could use those for coastal restoration in some way.
Jacques: For sure. Do you get a prize for most traps collected?
John: Actually, last year Jack Payne who’s the owner of Sweetwater Marina was nice enough to give out some prizes and so …
Simone: Awesome. Yeah.
John: … some people got some free nights at his lodge for being the leaders, but I can tell you the, whether they physically picked up the traps or not, the biggest source of information as far as determining where these traps are, are commercial fishermen. The shrimpers, of course, they catch the abandoned traps in their nets and so forth, and so we actually did a mapping exercise with commercial fishermen in St. Bernard and …
Simone: That’s smart.
John: … some of those areas, and it turned out to be really useful and so of course, now that we’re stepping up our game to try to get 18,000, we’ll probably be doing similar outreach.
Jacques: And Jerry, so that’s going to be next year kind of February, you said?
John: Second half of February, first half of March.
Jacques: Awesome. Well, tell us also a little bit about, we were talking about the cook-off for the coast and obviously one of the things you’re highlighting are kind of invasive species and feral hogs. How have hogs damaged St. Bernard wetlands, St. Bernard marshes? I mean, it’s a coast wide problem obviously.
John: Yeah, it’s a coast wide problem, and we’re seeing more and more hogs in St. Bernard parish and listen, they’re on the levees. They’re tearing up. All you got to do is ride through Biloxi Marsh and you can see them everywhere. It’s just a huge problem. Them and the nutria as well. We just thought that hogs would be more appealing and appetizing than nutria, but next year we’re going to change …
Simone: You need a fur fashion show. I think.
Jerry: Maybe next year.
Jacques: You just want to bring up nutria for a fanny pack again.
Simone: And the fact that they do the dog treats that you’re dog loves.
Jacques: That’s true, and my dog loves the nutria marsh dog treats.
Jerry: Well, one of the challenges that we’re going to face going forward is really the more marsh creation that we do and the more ridge restoration that we do and the more coastal restoration that we do in general are really giving the feral hogs more pathways to accessing new parts of the marsh that they haven’t eaten up already.
Jerry: And so as we step up our restoration game, we also need to step up our game with regard to the feral hog and so hopefully we can bring some awareness to that at this event.
Jacques: Right, and we’ve had folks from CWPPRA on in the past to talk about their trapping program for nutria and kind of the successes that they’ve seen at least with that invasive species, so hopefully you can see that more across the board.
Simone: Perfect. Yeah. So thank you guys for being with us today.
John: Thank you.
Jerry: Thank you for having us. We enjoyed it.
Simone: We’re very grateful. It’s always nice to have people in the studio. I always say that, too.
Jerry: We hope that we’re invited back. We’re barely scratching the surface today.
Simone: So you have to bring your kids, so they can see that this is part of your job, right, too? Like my kids, Ben and Penny are like yeah, you talk on the radio, right?
Jerry: You would need about a two hour show if I bring that crew.
Jacques: Well, we’d love to have you back. Maybe next time we could do it live from Rocking Carlos. Do a little …
Jerry: That would be a great idea.
Simone: If I can get my pass in, right? I know I won’t fully get a license but if you’ll let me in, so Jacques …
Simone: … let’s talk about a couple of things coming up. So, CPRA is not going to have their monthly meeting on November 15th. That was canceled.
Jacques: I know, I saw that that was canceled.
Simone: Yeah, they usually do, almost every year they combine the November/December meeting just because the timing and things like that, too, so that was out today, but there’s a couple of volunteer, you guys are free. You guys are free next Wednesday, so …
Jerry: We enjoy the CPRA meetings if you’re listening.
Simone: So there are a couple events coming up if you, there’s Light to the Lake. We talked about that before. That’s so cool.
Jacques: It’s crazy I mean, obviously the weather today’s cooled down. I can’t believe we’re approaching Thanksgiving.
Simone: I felt like shopping today.
Jacques: I know, and I was driving down Canal to get here and all the displays are up. They have wreaths and Christmas trees, so I guess …
Simone: Yeah. There’s something to be thankful for.
Jacques: It’s that time of the year. I know.
Simone: Yeah. But Light to the Lake is December 9th from 2 pm to 6 pm and that’s at the New Canal Lighthouse. We talked to Jerry and John a lot today about volunteer opportunities. We talked to you about your own experience, and there’s a couple of those that are coming up too.
Jacques: Yeah, I mean, CRCL Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is still doing a ton of plantings and volunteer events, really in December at the end of this month, too.
Simone: Yeah, at Caernarvon.
Jacques: To Lake Mauripas, Caernarvon, there’s oyster shell bagging. I think that’s down in Buras, so go online to crcl.org to their volunteer page and you can see all those opportunities, sign up, bring your team, bring your family, bring your neighbors, it’s a great day, a great way to give back.
Simone: Yeah, very good, and next week we have a big show already planned.
Jacques: Right. Yeah, so our coalition, we work a lot on various large scale restoration projects and discussing their importance, and so we’re going to be highlighting some of the kind of key restoration projects that are a part of the coastal master plan. We’re actually taking some folks out to the Mauripas Swamp, so another day out of the office.
Simone: Jacques’ new favorite.
Jacques: But it is an iconic area, so important from an ecological standpoint and also for storm surge protection for areas around the river parishes, North Shore, even up into Baton Rouge, so we’re going to be highlighting how important that swamp is and the need to maintain it into the future.
Simone: Very cool. I’m looking forward to that one.
Jacques: Yeah, what you got going on next week, Simone?
Simone: It’s Penny’s birthday this weekend, so it is all about her.
Jacques: Princess Penny.
Simone: The four year old that will be five and bosses us around, so …
Simone: Yeah, yeah. We maybe get some hog for her birthday, so yeah. We have a good weekend. How about you? You got a game this weekend? Is it a match? Game? What?
Jacques: I have no game this weekend. I actually have a game on the 18th in the morning, so I’m going to do my game and then come to Cook-off for the Coast.
Simone: Awesome. Awesome. Well …
Jacques: If I don’t break anything.
Simone: We’re so thankful to John and Jerry for being on the show today.
Jacques: Thank you guys so much.
Simone: So you’ll catch us next week on WGSO 990 Delta Dispatches. We’ll talk to you then.