Project Front Yard EcoSTEAM Camp

From July 16th-18th, the CWPPRA Public Outreach Team and special guests helped educate children about wetland resources during the inaugural Project Front Yard STEM summer camp at Girard Park in Lafayette, LA. Project Front Yard is an organization within Lafayette Consolidated Government that seeks to educate the public towards a more sustainable future. Our activities this week covered wetland plants, endangered species, and birding with groups split by age: 5-8, 9-10, and 11-14 years old.

On the first day, our team demonstrated how wetland plants transport gases through their tissues with the help of Carrie Salyers of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Using plastic cups, straws, and a tray of water, campers had to get air into and out of the “leaves” (cups) and the “roots” (straws) while they were inundated. We also brought our Wetland Jeopardy board to test campers’ knowledge of Louisiana’s wetland flora, fauna, and benefits.

P1060799
Campers use pressure through straws to put air into a submerged leaf-cup

Tuesday morning, the children walked into their meeting room to a toothy surprise. Gabe Giffin from LDWF brought several young alligators from Rockefeller NWR for the campers to hold and examine. In another room, Carrie Salyers taught the campers about the biology of endangered whooping cranes. After discussing how Whooping Cranes use their beaks to catch food, Salyers, her CWPPRA helpers, and ULL’s Sam Hauser led an activity exploring how bird beak shapes are suited to eating different types of foods.

p10608781-e1532103925976.jpg
Campers posing with an alligator hatched in 2017
P1060867
Each participant had a different utensil to attempt picking up different types of food and putting them into their “stomachs”

For our last day with the camp, Jessica Schulz, an ornithologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, brought a mist net to demonstrate how birds are captured and processed in the field. We set up outside in Girard Park and allowed the children to retrieve fake birds from the mist net, band their legs, and record some measurements to measure the health of the birds. While we were setting up, we accidentally caught a real house sparrow! The bird was released quickly and campers were able to see firsthand how effective mist nets can be!

P1060886
Carefully removing a male cardinal from the mist net
fc311045-27ab-4c84-a454-09ad8ba10ea5.jpeg
House Sparrow that made its way into our mist net

National Estuaries Week

In honor of National Estuaries Week, this week’s Wetland Wednesday focuses on

Estuaries

An estuary is an ecosystem comprised of both the biological and physical environment, commonly located where a river meets the sea. Estuaries are known to be inhabited by an array of plant and animal species that have adapted to brackish water—a mixture between freshwater draining from inland and salt water. Estuaries have one of the highest productivity rates among ecosystems in the world; they provide an abundance of food and shelter as well as breeding and migration locations. Estuaries also provide great access for successful recreational activities such as fishing. Celebrate National Estuaries Week by aiming to keep your estuary areas clean of trash for others to enjoy as well as a healthy environment for wildlife and vegetation!

estuary

 

Marsh Maneuvers

Marsh Maneuvers is an education program focused on increasing the interests and knowledge of the younger generation toward coastal ecology and the biology of the coastal area. The program is a four week series camp in which each week, four parishes send high-school 4-H students to participate in a four-day camp. LSU AgCenter, in cooperation with the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, are sponsors of the Marsh Maneuvers program held at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier, LA. The 64 students experience activities such as airboat tours of natural marsh ecosystems, trolling for aquatic life, learning about both native and invasive vegetation and wildlife, and understanding biological processes on the coast.

On July 19 and 26, the CWPPRA Public Outreach staff gave a presentation and distributed a multitude of published materials to the attendees of the 2016 Marsh Maneuver camps. The presentation focused on CWPPRA’s selection process, projects in southwest Louisiana, and various methods used for restoration. While the majority of coastal erosion occurs in Louisiana, the entire country falls victim to its effects. CWPPRA believes that it is imperative to be aware of the natural and anthropogenic impacts to coastal regions and educate the youth to be ambassadors for restoration of the coast.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wetland Recreation

In honor of summer officially beginning this week, this Wetland Wednesday focuses on:

Recreation in the Wetlands

One of the many valuable qualities offered by wetlands is recreation. Ecosystems are highly biologically diversified, providing an abundance of species to view or catch. Boating, fishing, bird-watching, photography, or simply enjoying the landscape are all activities which attract greater use of wetlands during summer months. Known as the “Sportsman’s Paradise,” Louisiana wetlands draw a large number of tourists and natives, increasing the ecotourism of the state. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act encourages the public to be opportunistic in using wetlands as a beneficial natural resource while also recognizing their importance and need for protection. While recreationally using wetlands, remember to respect the home of wildlife, including many endangered species.

Happy Summer!

SOC 2016

FullSizeRenderThe State of the Coast conference took place June 1-3rd in New Orleans, LA. The State of the Coast conference is an interdisciplinary forum to exchange timely and relevant information on the dynamic conditions of Louisiana’s coastal communities, environment, and economy and to apply that information to existing and future coastal restoration and protection efforts, policies, and decision-making. The conference is hosted by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana in partnership with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and The Water Institute of the Gulf. CWPPRA is a sponsor of State of the Coast.

Kimberly Davis Reyher, Executive Director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, began the conference with a brief welcome and an introduction of the welcome address speaker, Johnny Bradberry, Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Affairs and CPRA Chairman. The welcome was followed by a keynote address by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. During his speech, Governor Edwards stated, “Coastal dollars are going to be used for coastal issues. We are ready for more, bigger, and better projects. I did not become governor to watch south Louisiana wash away.”  In addition, the governor declared,

“coastal restoration is important in more ways than we can count if we want to remain the great State of Louisiana.”

Other plenary speakers included Michael Ellis, Executive Director of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; Chip Groat, President and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf; Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City of New Orleans; and Dr. Denise Reed, Chief Scientist at The Water Institute of the Gulf. Brad Inman, Senior Project Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chairman of the CWPPRA Planning and Evaluation Committee, presented The Status and Future of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Program.

nutriaThe CWPPRA outreach exhibit at State of the Coast was an exciting stop for conference attendees. Through a partnership with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, participants were able to visit with a live alligator and nutria at the booth. Beignet the nutria demonstrated the tremendous quantity and speed at which nutria can eat, illustrating the destruction that they cause to coastal wetlands. Bootsie, an American Alligator, represented wetland wildlife that contributes to local economy and various industries. CWPPRA debuted a new poster series campaign entitled “Protect Our Coast.” Illustrated by CWPPRA Media Specialist Nikki Cavalier, the two posters depict the Louisiana iris and the Brown Pelican. The Protect Our Coast campaign theme was extended through a photo booth in the exhibit. Participants were able to select from a variety of props to hold or wear while posing in front of the campaign poster banners. Participants posted their photos on multiple social media platforms with the campaign hashtag #ProtectOurCoast.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Wildlife of the Wetlands

Known as living dinosaurs, alligators first appeared on Earth approximately 37 million years ago. Although there are two species of alligator, the American Alligator and the Chinese Alligator, it is the American Alligator, the largest repalligator profiletile in the United States, that inhabits Louisiana as the state reptile.

Alligators of Louisiana call the coastal wetlands their home. A predator in the wetland ecosystem, alligators assist in population control; however, alligators also support diversity and shelter of other species in the environment. During nest construction, alligators dig burrows with their tails resulting in the creation of peat- a boggy type of soil- which often facilitates plant growth.  Furthermore, the burrows become ‘alligator holes’, or wetland depressions,  which become a home or breeding area to many species other than alligators during dry periods. Alligators are considered a keystone species in the coastal wetlands environment; without alligators, the diversity and productivity of coastal wetlands would decrease.

Source