Wetland Warrior: Richie Blink

Captain Richie Blink has spent a lifetime on the bayous of Louisiana studying its wetlands, people, and economy. As a captain, pilot, and councilman, Richie works with his community to restore their home of Plaquemines Parish through the development of grassroots coastal restoration projects.

Q:  What is your job title and affiliation? 

A:   I am the Director of Delta Discovery Tours, and I’m an ecotourism operator and outfitter 
in the Mississippi River Delta.

Q:  How did you get started in this field and how long have you been doing this type of work? 

A:   I’ve been doing this work since at least 2015 when I incorporated, but a lot longer before that. Any time friends would have folks coming into New Orleans, they would say “You’ve got to go on a boat with Richie Blink. He’s going to bring you out into the delta and really help you understand what’s going on down there,” so that’s really how it all started out.

Q:  Describe the part of your job/role that you enjoy the most. 

A:   I enjoy just being out on the water and being in nature. I enjoy seeing the daily changes that are happening to the delta.

Q: Describe the part of your job/role that you believe is the most impactful.   

A:   I love bringing people into areas of new wetland growth to show them the land-building power of the Mississippi River.

Q:  What do you think is the best/easiest way people can help restore or preserve wetlands? 

A:  There’s different ways that folks can plug in. It just depends on their abilities and preferences. Some people might find it useful to contact our elected officials and tell them that this is important to them and their neighbors. Other folks might be able to do some volunteer work, like with Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL). They have a number of different ways you can join in, whether it’s the oyster shell recycling program building reefs and community sites or tree planting. There are some really great programs that the Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) has going on, like their beach sweeps down at Elmer’s Island, which is a really beautiful and dynamic environment.  

Q: In your opinion why is coastal restoration in Louisiana important? For folks out of state, why is Louisiana’s coastal restoration work important for the nation? 

A:   The port complex from Baton Rouge to Gulf of Mexico, while there’s five political sub-divisions, is the largest port complex on the planet by tonnage. There’s a massive amount of cargo that’s moved out of there. This wetland buffer helps create a layer of protection between the destructive forces of hurricane storm surges and those facilities. Also, the culture here is really unique and really important, and it adds to the gumbo pot of flavors we have here in Louisiana.

Q: What is your favorite recreational activity to do in the wetlands?

A:   I really love camping in the wetlands – going out into these uninhabited barrier islands or these really impenetrable places in the swamps and finding a little spot with your favorite folks and pitching a tent. 

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