When I first started thinking about writing this series half a year ago, I was convinced that only a handful of people cared about coastal erosion and wetland loss (which is partly why it took me half a year). We're all so focused on the small day to day problems, "big picture" issues like these seem to get pushed aside.
Over the past few weeks, what I've written here sounds pretty darn bleak.
And it is in many ways.
We're battling natural erosion, erosion caused by human interference, years and years of environmental assaults, and, of course, funding.
This article from Natural History Magazine includes a map--color coded. Reds and yellows are coast that has been lost and is projected to be lost. Land gained and projected land gained is displayed in shades of green. If you look at the map, you'll see that the reds and yellows are winning.
It's a race to save what we have left and to hurry to build up more.
When it comes to preventing further wetland loss, we are losing the race. With so many years of taking our coast for granted, we are out of shape.
And certainly haven't trained well.
But once I started talking to people and researching the issue of Louisiana's disappearing coast, I found something else. There are many people out there who are truly passionate about saving our coastline.
Maybe this is the training we need.
Back in October on an annual family fishing trip, my dad took me out to see a marsh-building project in the works.
I don't think I'd said anything at that point about my plans to write about wetland loss; he just knew this was something I'd be interested in and want to see. Maybe even need to see?
It was a little mind blowing for me. On one hand, it was jarring to see heavy construction equipment out in the marsh in the middle of nowhere.
On the other hand, it was simply just plain good to see something being done.
What you see in these pictures is part of the Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation Project. It is an effort to combat what was damaged and/or lost from the Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill back in 2010.
What I saw in October of 2013 was a large ring of short levees (or terraces as they are being called) being built in the Lake Hermitage area. Sediment from the Mississippi River is being pumped into the area to create marsh.
Native plants are being put in place to help anchor the sediment.
The hope is that the project will build 104 acres of marsh.
While I do have reservations about further human interference, even a skeptic like me was happy to see this going on.
Before I close out this little project of mine and return to being a cooking blog (Mardi Gras is next ya'll), I want to leave you with some organizations and people that have given me hope.
Voice of the Wetlands: Founded by Louisiana blues musician Tab Benoit, this non-profit organization seeks to promote awareness of wetland loss and restoration. For the past 10 years, VOW has hosted a festival in October in Houma, Louisiana.
Bayou Grace Community Services: I stumbled on Bayou Grace by accident, but have become a fan of their "Wednesday Why." This weekly feature includes a picture of someone holding a sign stating why wetlands should be saved. Sometimes it's sentimental, like "so my children can grow up the way I did." Sometimes it's environmental--"so migratory birds have something to land on."
My favorite so far:
"so we don't have to find out that we didn't appreciate what we had until it's gone."
Read that one again.
Global Green USA's Wetland Warrior Series: Another thing I look forward to on Wednesdays. Each Wednesday, Global Green features someone who fights to protect Louisiana wetlands.
People like Webster Pierce, age 71: Mr. Pierce was featured in this article from La Louisiane Magazine for his Wave Robber. The Wave Robber is a wave suppression and sediment collection system.
Louisiana Voters: I know, I know. Right? But it turns out that the majority of Louisiana voters, no matter their party line, say that coastal erosion is the "most important issue of their lifetime."
My dad, who has always been environmentally conscious when it comes to Louisiana, and his buddy, Mr. Johnny who has educated me on the benefits of freshwater and sediment diversions. While I'm always iffy about further intervention, he brought up the point that at least if funding for coastal projects is cut, diversions built now will remain in place to help continue to build wetlands.
Finally, all of you who have been reading this series, commenting on it, and even sharing through social media what I've written. I was unsure how this thing would be received since this is and always has been a cooking blog. It has been surprising, empowering, and humbling that so many of you have rallied in support of what I set out to do.