Project Spotlight: NOAA Fisheries’s Delta Wide Crevasses (MR-09)

The Delta Wide Crevasses restoration project mimics the natural process of crevasse formation that was responsible for building much of the Mississippi River Delta.

Q: What is the name of the project, and where is it located? 

A: The Delta Wide Crevasse (MR-09) project is located in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, within the Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area (Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries) and the Delta National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

Q: What was the timeline for this project (start date – completion date)? 

A: The first dredging cycle of construction was completed in 1999. There were three construction phases from 1999-2014 where 28 crevasses were constructed or had received maintenance dredging​. The project is currently in construction phase IV where seven crevasses will be constructed: four crevasses on the Delta National Wildlife Refuge​ and three crevasses on the Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area.

Q: How many acres of wetland does this project benefit/create? 

A: The Phase IV construction is estimated to create 120 acres. By project year 15, benefits analysis estimated 935 acres of land gained from the Phase I to III crevasses.

Q: What is most important/impactful about this project? 

A: Crevasses are breaks in the levees that allow the river to deposit sediments into adjacent shallow bays. The wetlands formed from the deposition of these sediments are called crevasse splays. This restoration project mimics the natural process of crevasse formation that was responsible for building much of the Mississippi River Delta. Crevasse splays create a variety of habitats for all fishery, waterfowl, and other wildlife species.  Habitats created range from intertidal marsh to high elevation forested islands. 

Q: Is there anything unique about this project you would like to bring attention to? 

A: The Delta Wide Crevasse (MR-09) project is very cost effective. The cost effectiveness is $3,637/acre. Recent CWPPRA projects (2009-2019) approved for funding averaged in cost effectiveness at $95,774 per acre.

Environmental Educator: Valerie Nehrbass-Vidrine

Valerie Nehrbass-Vidrine uses hands-on lessons and activities in her classroom to facilitate deeper connections between her students and our environment.

Q:  What subject(s) & grade(s) do you teach? 

A:  I teach 5th, 6th, and 7th-grade science at Berchmans Academy in Grand Coteau. 
 

Q:  Why is it important to you to teach about Louisiana wetlands, and how does it align with your teaching philosophy?   

A:  Our wetlands are our first defense against hurricanes and while humans can’t control hurricanes, we can control how we protect and restore our wetlands. My teaching philosophy essentially boils down to educating students to a social awareness that impels them to action. The Sacred Heart Schools Goals and Criteria state under goal 3, criterion 4  “all members of the school community accept accountability for the care of God’s creation, practice effective stewardship of the earth’s resources and work to alleviate the climate crisis.” It’s not enough to teach students concepts; it’s imperative that they be able to apply learning to new situations and understand when it’s their responsibility to step in and do what they can. 

Q:  In what ways do you encourage your students to be proactive/involved in environmental stewardship? 

A:  Personal and hands-on application is key! My students grow and plant native trees in conjunction with the LSU Coastal Roots program to help restore black bear habitat on Avery Island. Our school garden and bee hives provide students with the opportunity to nurture and observe the natural world in our own backyard. The LDWF’s Native Fish in the Classroom program provides us with the opportunity to raise native paddlefish in the classroom and release them back into the wild in an effort to restore their population. Our prep science curriculum is geared towards environmental stewardship specifically; it’s a natural union. 
 

Q: Describe your favorite lesson/activity that you use in your classroom to teach about Louisiana  wetlands.   

A:  I love letting students explore the resources on watchthedeltagrow.com. The Mississippi River Paths video makes a concept that can be abstract (for kids) tangible and comprehensible. When we talk about coastal restoration and how we can protect the wetlands and coastline that we do have, students also build physical coastlines and model different defense systems. It all boils down to making it relevant for students and letting them explore for themselves. 
 

“It’s all connected – everything that you love and enjoy about being a Louisianan can be connected back to our wetlands.”

Valerie Nehrbass-Vidrine

Q:  What would you say to a student who is hesitant or not interested in participating in a lesson about  Louisiana wetlands? 

A: It’s all connected – everything that you love and enjoy about being a Louisianan can be connected back to our wetlands. 

I think ultimately a student hesitant and unwilling to participate in a lesson about Louisiana wetlands is just unaware of the effect that wetlands have on their existence as a Louisiana resident. Finding out what is important to them and connecting it to our wetlands is a great way to get student buy-in.

 

Wetland Warrior: Dr. Eva Hillmann

Dr. Eva Hillmann of the Pontchartrain Conservancy has been planting trees to help restore coastal swamp forests in Louisiana for over ten years. 

Q:  What is your job title and affiliation? 

A: Coastal Scientist with the Pontchartrain Conservancy and Instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University (Biology, Ecology, Coastal Plant Production)   

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

A: I had a general interest in wetlands for years, but no idea of how to actually break into and do this type of work. I went back to school in my late 30s and got a Masters at SELU under Dr. Gary Shaffer – who immerses his students in wetlands work. After I graduated I was fortunate to get picked up by the Pontchartrain Conservancy . My work at the PC allows me flexibility, so while maintaining my job I also started a PhD program at Louisiana State University, in the School of Renewable Natural Resources and the Agricultural Center under Dr. Megan La Peyre, focused on submerged aquatic vegetation along the northern Gulf of Mexico. After I graduated, I stayed with the Conservancy and also became an Instructor at SELU. I’ve been doing this work for about 15 years.   

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

A:  I love telling a story with data – I enjoy designing a plan, getting in the field and collecting data, analyzing it and figuring out what it really means – what are the main take-aways that I want people to remember. 

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

A:   Two things: 1) every planted tree at every tree planting event is a piece of the puzzle that helps restore, conserve and maintain these critical freshwater swamp habitats in coastal southeast Louisiana that provide habitat for priority fish and bird species, protect communities from storm surge and flooding and sequester and store carbon to blunt the impacts from climate change, and 2) taking students into the marsh and exposing them to these habitats, species and techniques ecologists use. It gives them an appreciation for their environment in an applied, visceral sense and hopefully they will take that with them into their future careers.

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

A:  Donate your money and time (if you are able) to environmental organizations you believe in, quit littering because it all ends up in our waterways and wetlands and vote for political candidates that believe in science and make these issues a priority. 

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: Coastal restoration in Louisiana is important because these habitats – this gradient of habitats from freshwater swamp and marsh, to tidal marshes, then mangroves and barrier islands – form a connected system that provides ecological services (habitat, storm protection, better water quality, carbon storage, flood control) that are at times hard see or grasp or monetize, until these habitats are gone; then their benefits become more clear. For instance, healthy tidal marshes in southern Louisiana  support Louisiana’s robust seafood industry by providing spawning grounds, food and refuge for shrimp, crab and fish. Without these habitats our fishing industry would suffer, but the impacts would be felt outside of Louisiana too.

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

A:   I’ve been planting trees in the wetlands of southeast Louisiana with the Pontchartrain Conservancy for almost 10 years now, my favorite thing to do it to take boat rides and revisit some of earlier planting sites and just take in how much the trees have grown and imagine what the area will look like in another 10, 20 or 50 years. Although Hurricane Ida wreaked so much damage in this area, a recent visit to our sites confirmed the planted trees withstood the storm beautifully. Imagining them full grown, providing a modicum of protection to the surrounding communities is satisfying.  

I’m also finally learning to fish. 

Seafood Spotlight: Coterie New Orleans

Run by New Orleans locals, Coterie takes pride in serving authentic New Orleans dishes, most of which have been passed down for generations. 

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp and Grits

BBQ Shrimp Base
1-quart Abita Amber Beer
1 ½ Tbsp Black Pepper, cracked
¼ cup Rosemary (finely chopped) 
½ Tbsp Thyme
½ cup Crystal Hot Sauce 
½ cup Worcestershire Sauce
¼ cup Garlic, minced
1 each, zest Lemons 
1 cup Shrimp Stock

Grits to order (1 serving)
2 Tbs Canola Oil 
5 oz BBQ Shrimp Base 
2 Tbsp Butter 
5 Fresh Jumbo Shrimp peeled back to the tail (keep the heads and shells for stock)

Procedure
1.) Add all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil
 
2.) Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes 

Procedure
1.) Add oil to a large skillet on high heat.  Once oil is hot add Shrimp cook for 2 minutes and turn.
 
2.) Add BBQ Shrimp Base to Skillet 

3.) Reduce for 1 minute, then add butter 

4.) Swirl the sauce and butter until butter is melted 

5.) Serve over Stone Ground Grits 

Shrimp and grits are a New Orleans staple served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Coterie Restaurant.

Tips from the chef:

  • The shrimp base serves 8 and can be held in the fridge for 5 days.  Make it ahead of time and look like a pro serving this dish in minutes!
  • When cooking for a group, simply multiply the recipe for how many guests you will be serving and cook in one skillet.
  • Adding a generous amount of cream cheese to stone ground grits will give it a smooth, rich flavor.
  • For a quick shrimp stock, simmer the reserved shrimp hulls in chicken stock for an hour.

Presentation is key: 

  • In a bowl, first place the five shrimp on top the bed of grits. Then ladle the sauce over everything and finish with fresh green onions.

Wetland Warrior: Dominique Seibert

Dominique Seibert is a Marine Extension Agent with Louisiana Sea Grant who values community involvement and collaboration with other wetlands protection organizations.

Q:  What is your job title and affiliation? 

A:   Marine Extension Agent, Louisiana Sea Grant & LSU AgCenter
 

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

A:   I’ve always had a love for the outdoors and can remember wanting to work on restoring our coast at a very young age. I participated in a number of vegetative planting projects during my years in 4-H and even participated in Louisiana Sea Grant’s Marsh Maneuvers program in high school.  

After college, my introduction into this field was working as the Species Specialist for the Biological Assessment of the USCG’s response efforts on the BP Oil Spill. After a few years, I moved on to working as a marine biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and then landed at Louisiana Sea Grant.   

I’ve been in this field for ten years. 

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

A:   The part of my job that I enjoy the most is designing programs that align with the needs of the community. I enjoy listening to our local stakeholders, working with different agencies, and collaborating with researchers to design and implement programs that are needed in our communities. Rather its information on storm recovery, keeping commercial fishermen informed of regulation changes in their industry, or creating opportunities for community members to plant vegetation to help combat erosion, these programs have a direct effect on the communities. 
 

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

A:   The part of my job that I believe is the most impactful is working with youth. Within this job, I have the opportunity to work with children of all ages. I get to teach elementary school students about crawfish and rice farming at AgMagic on the River. During the fall, we host fishing clinics for middle school children. And each summer, high schoolers attend my Marsh Dawgs camp where they learn about local ecosystems, coastal restoration, data collection, GPS mapping,  and water quality testing as well as getting to experience kayaking, fishing, and other outdoor activities. It’s really rewarding to watch kids get energized and inspired while they learn about local industries, culture, and coastal issues that directly impact their communities. Hopefully, this will motivate someone to pursue a science career and one day, generate new ideas to help restore our coast. 
 

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

A:  The easiest way to help preserve our wetlands is to reduce the amount of marine debris. Simply picking up after yourself and picking up debris you may come across as you experience our wetlands can be quite impactful to the habitat and the species that live there.  

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:   Louisiana’s wetlands represent about 40% of the wetlands in the continental U.S. but represents about 80% of total wetland loss. We are losing our wetlands at an incredible rate. Our wetlands provide many ecosystem services such as a nursery for important species, filter and purify water, provide storm protection, and are a vital component of our commercial fishing industry. Also, a number of other industries such as recreation and tourism; oil and gas; and trade and commerce, all rely on Louisiana’s wetlands.  Our coast is also home to approximately two million people, including a number of indigenous tribes. Restoring our coast ensures our wetlands continue to provide these vital services as well as protect the people that live there.  

Louisiana’s coastal restoration work is important for the nation because our wetlands provide large economic benefits. Louisiana is the largest producer of seafood in the lower 48 states. We are known as “Sportsman Paradise” attracting visitors from all over the world to experience the fish and wildlife our wetlands have to offer. And Louisiana’s coast has an extremely large impact on the nation’s oil and gas industry as well as the water-borne commerce industry. So, it’s very important to preserve our wetlands for the benefit of our state, and our nation.
 

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

A:   I love fishing. I’ve been fishing since I was old enough to hold a fishing pole and I got my first tackle box from my Paw-Paw when I was six. Its so beautiful and peaceful, punctuated by glorious moments when something hits your bait and you reel in a fish.  

Artist & Advocate: Lauren Hémard 

Lauren Hémard is a New Orleans-based Artist & Naturalist whose creations are often inspired by the wetlands landscape.

Q:  Please describe your work and the medium/media you use. Why do you make this type of art? 

A:  I am best described as a multimedia artist, not as much for using multiple mediums in each work, but for the constant rotation between mediums. I’m always hovering through and back around to painting and illustrating, photography, textile art, printmaking, song and digital collage.  

Nature, the elements, spirit and dreams … these have always been inspiration, and I look to the connectedness of nature for every answer, every question the universe poses. 

I like to think of my imagery as a blend of the natural world and dreamscape. It’s a place where I long for us to exist. Being idealistic about our issues doesn’t help save the earth, but imagining ourselves in that interconnected plane with nature and humanity can help us visualize peace on this planet. Visualization is a big step toward a goal.

Q:  What is most striking or inspirational to you about the wetland landscape?   

A:  There are countless reasons the wetlands inspire me. They surrounded the story of growing up here, familiar, comforting, just part of it all. Then I grew and learned so much about them, the role they play in the environment and in countless aspects of our local culture. They were once described to me as “Floating Prairies” and I found that to be the most intriguing description.  

Also, experiencing loss throughout life has kept me searching for things in nature to remind me that change is a part of living. The wetlands have become one of those symbols for me, that things change, special things can be ephemeral, and that we should protect these things at all costs while we still have them. 

Q:  In what ways has the Louisiana wetland landscape changed in your lifetime? 

A:  Having grown up in New Orleans, I’ve been able to have a close view of the changes in the surrounding areas. You hear about the loss all the time but if you stayed only inside the city, or lived elsewhere you might not notice it in your day to day. Driving down to Grand Isle for instance, there’s so much more water than there used to be. The big Gulf is on our doorstep. You can feel the effect from the big storms that pass through. The continuous strength and speed of Ida for example put on loud display that the buffer had been severely diminished.

Q: Why is it important to you to create art about Louisiana wetlands? 

A:  For one, it’s a place that I know and feel comfortable with expressing myself through, since it’s the visual language of home. I think it’s important to tell the stories of your home so that people who visit or want to learn about it can understand the humanity and unique landscape of wherever you are, and how those intertwine, especially down here.

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

A: Restoration is important because we still want to be here! And the communities closest to the bottom of the “Boot” are the most vulnerable. There are irreplaceable lives at stake, and they hold irreplaceable cultural knowledge and history regarding our most precious and precarious areas. The indigenous tribes of our state, the French speakers, the Vietnamese communities, the fishing heritage, countless stories and working knowledge of their home, the animals, the plants, the healing drive down to the coast through the marshlands, the places on the map that are disappearing before our eyes… for these reasons and for so many other indefinable ones, it is important.  

Q: How does your art challenge existing barriers and assumptions about our environmental crisis? 

A: My hope is that people come to no longer see Humanity and Nature as separate entities. There is no separating Us from It All, even separating Ourselves from Each Other. The rest could fall into place, the more people share that viewpoint.

Q:  Where can people view your work (displayed in galleries or links to websites)? 

Artist & Advocate: Neka Mire

Neka Mire is a Chitimacha artist who has been beading for almost 20 years.

Q:  Please describe your work and the medium/media you use. Why do you make this type of art? 

A:  I am a Chitimacha weaver and beader.  Although I primarily focus on rivercane basketry and beading, I also have begun exploring a few styles of fiber weaving within recent years because I enjoy learning about modern and historical textile traditions and because I enjoy weaving in general. 

I began beading when I was a student at Chitimacha Tribal School in 1993 or ‘94, and I immediately fell in love with all the beautiful bead colors, the infinite possibilities of design, and the creative process.  I also loved learning to bead along with my friends and family members, and I still do.   

Many of my beading designs are based on our traditional basketry designs.  As a result, I was already familiar with a few basket patterns when I began weaving rivercane baskets in 2017.  Weaving our traditional basketry is very special to me because it is a part of who I am as a Chitimacha person.  When I weave, I feel more connected to myself, the landscape; my family; my community; past, present, and future weavers; and our traditions.   

Q:  What is most striking or inspirational to you about the wetland landscape?   

A:  It’s hard for me to say what is most inspirational because there are so many attributes of the wetlands that I find striking and inspirational.  My color choices for beadwork and yarn work are often inspired by the beauty of Louisiana’s wetland landscape.  Our traditional basket designs are depictions of the natural environment as well. 

Q:  In what ways has the Louisiana wetland landscape changed in your lifetime? 

A:  I’ve seen a lot of older trees die during my lifetime while it seems that many young trees do not have the chance to grow old.  Floods seem to happen more frequently now than in the past, and there are places on our coastline now underwater that weren’t under water just a few years ago.  On the other hand, rivercane is more plentiful and therefore more accessible to me now than it was 20-30 years ago because of rivercane restoration. 

Q: Why is it important to you to create art about Louisiana wetlands? 

A:  I don’t necessarily think of myself as creating art about the Louisiana wetlands.  Rather, I am creating art with and for the wetlands.  Each basket is the result of many years of caring for the rivercane plants and the land upon which they grow, and each basket is the result of a collaboration between myself, my community, the land, and the living rivercane plants.  The rivercane and the land have much more of a final say in how the basket turns out than I ever will, and caring for the plants and cane patch are of utmost importance to the weaving process.  This perspective is important to me because if I do not harvest, prepare, and weave with careful consideration for the plants and the cane patch, then the cane will diminish and become less accessible to weavers.   

In addition, many of my beading and jewelry materials were given to me by friends and family members, and I try to incorporate those materials in my work as much as possible, especially locally sourced materials.  For example, the alligator garfish scales I use in my signature earrings came from a fish that was caught locally by a lifelong friend and family member who then prepared the scales and gave them to me.  It’s important that I include materials from my friends, family, and community because they have encouraged and supported me every step of the way since I first began creating. 

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

A: I think coastal restoration work is important to our state and the nation because I believe that human beings have a responsibility to the land, all its inhabitants, each other, and the generations that come after us.  All life depends on the environment, and I think it is important to honor that connection by caring for the natural landscape around us.  I also think it is important to support, uphold, and continue a legacy of environmental stewardship for future generations. 

Q: How does your art challenge existing barriers and assumptions about our environmental crisis? 

A:  One may look at a basket and only think about the finished piece, but weaving is actually the “fastest” step even though it too can take a long time.  The truth is it takes many years of growth and care before the cane can be harvested and many weeks or months of preparation before harvested cane is ready for weaving.  It also takes many years of practice to master the techniques.  I still have a great deal more learning to do, but early in my weaving journey I learned that our traditional basketry is much more than simply weaving.  It is an entire system of education that is inextricably linked to the health and well-being of the environment in which the cane grows.  Continuation of our basketry traditions also challenges the common assumption that traditional art forms and environmental knowledge are relevant in a mainly historical context. While I think history is important, I also think it is important to acknowledge traditional art forms as a necessary component of the larger, multi-faceted conversations currently taking place about the environmental crises that affect us all. 

Q:  Where can people view your work (displayed in galleries or links to websites)? 

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to tell us about yourself or your work?

A: Thank you for the invitation and the honor of participating as a highlighted artist for the 2021 CWPPRA Dedication Ceremony.  I express my deepest admiration and gratitude to CWPPRA and to everyone who contributes to protecting and restoring the coastal wetlands of Louisiana.  Last, I would like to encourage and invite everyone who loves our state’s beautiful wetlands to join us as we work toward this common goal.

Wetland Warrior: Julia Lightner

Julia Lightner is a biologist for Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries with over 20 years of experience. She currently aids LDWF in the management of Elmer’s Island by providing access for recreation and educational opportunities, continuing to research the natural resources on the refuge, and restoring and protecting the species that live on the refuge as well as their habitat.

Q:  What is your job title and affiliation? 

A:   Biologist DCL-A, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

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

A:   I got interested in conservation through an Environmental Field Program (EFP) that I attended in college, where we spent three months camping in state parks and refuges of the Southeast and speaking to regional experts on the environment. I have been working in this field (conservation/biological sciences) for over 20 years.

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

A:   Part of my job is being responsible for Elmer’s Island Refuge, and I enjoy any time I can spend out there working on outreach, restoration and recreational access projects.

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

A:   LDWF has been trying to improve recreational access for Elmer’s Island and I’ve been able to propose several projects that were funded through NRDA. I think they’ve had some impact on people visiting and enjoying their trips to the Refuge. 

Another project I’m working on this year is a reimbursement program to help shrimpers purchase TEDs (turtle excluder devices) for their skimmer boats (a new federal requirement from NOAA).

Checking the labels on your seafood products to make sure they are from Louisiana or from the Gulf Coast helps to support the coastal community and economy.

Julia Lightner

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

A:  One way to support restoration would be to support the local advocates, many of which are the local fishermen and dock owners. Checking the labels on your seafood products to make sure they are from Louisiana or from the Gulf Coast helps to support the coastal community and economy. Fishing is one of the leading industries of our coast. Buying local seafood also reduces the fuel consumption needed for transporting imported fish; reducing the carbon footprint is helpful for preventing further sea-level rise. 

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:   Much of coastal Louisiana is the result of the Mississippi River meeting the Gulf of Mexico, and over time creating some of the most productive and beautiful estuaries, made up of miles and miles of swamp, marsh, and barrier islands. The area is so important as a nursery ground for crabs, shrimp, oysters and fish, for bird migration over the Gulf of Mexico, and the industries that use the area for ports and transportation. 

Q: What is your favorite recreational activity to do in the wetlands? OR Which wetland inhabitant (bird, fish, plant, etc) do you think best represents you? 

A:   I attended a photography class a few years ago, and that hobby started from taking pictures of and trying to identify different shorebirds. So I guess nature photography is probably one of my favorite activities these days.

Julia Lightner showing sea turtle to the public on beach in Louisiana.

Project Spotlight: Environmental Protection Agency – Hydrologic Restoration and Vegetative Planting in the Des Allemands Swamp (BA-34-2)

What is the name of the project, and where is it located? 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Hydrologic Restoration and Vegetative Planting in the Des Allemands Swamp (BA-34-2) or “Des Allemands Swamp” for short, is located in St James and Lafourche Parishes. 

What was the timeline for this project?

Engineering & design was originally approved in 2001, but the project went through some significant changes before construction in 2017.

How many acres of wetland does this project benefit/create? 

The project benefits 2395 acres of swamp habitat.

What is most important/impactful about this project? 

Creating and/or cleaning out historical gaps allows the area to drain and relieves impoundment, thus promoting regeneration of swamp tree species.  

Is there anything unique about this project you would like to bring attention to? 

This is the first swamp project constructed by CWPPRA.

Agency Spotlight: Sharon Osowski Morgan, EPA

Sharon Osowski Morgan has worked 25 years with the Environmental Protection Agency to protect human health and the environment! She has spent the last 7 years working within EPA’s CWPPRA team.

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

A: The coastal marshes of Louisiana are beautiful. I love being out in them, seeing the animals and the landscapes. Spending time outside is a big part of why I became an ecologist and I enjoy it immensely.

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

A: Technical coordination with parish representatives, community/environmental groups, local business/industry, citizen landowners— local stakeholders — is the most impactful part of my job.  Listening to folks who experience wetland loss as a part of their daily lives and developing restoration concepts to meet the challenges they experience is a personal and EPA CWPPRA Team goal.

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

A: I think community members already know, much better than I, what their local needs/priorities are regarding wetland preservation/restoration. If I could make anything easier, it would be helping people outside of Louisiana understand how vital the Louisiana coast is, its many benefits, and how they can support efforts to preserve and restore the Louisiana coast.

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

A: Bird watching is my favorite activity. There are lots of birds that I would love to add to my life list.  I’m pretty good identifying wetland/marsh species, but I’m not as proficient in identifying shorebirds as I would like.

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to tell us about yourself or your work in coastal protection and restoration?

A: I believe in the EPA mission to protect human health and the environment. Coastal wetland restoration/protection definitely falls within that mission.  I’ve been with EPA now 25 years and CWPPRA is unique—it is very rewarding to see projects constructed; places that were once open water, now restored as marsh.   The EPA Bayou Dupont projects are a great example of this.