Migratory Bird Festival 2019

A barrier island located on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, Grand Isle isn’t just a first line of defense against storms but also a first stop for birds during their Spring migration north from Latin America. This special coastal environment brings in hundreds of people from across the nation and throughout the world to see these beautiful birds during the first pit-stop on their long journey across the Gulf of Mexico. In previous years, over 160 different species of birds were identified during the three-day Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration.

Louisiana’s coastal wetlands provide vital habitat for these migrating birds as well as those species who live in Louisiana year-round. CWPPRA projects work to restore our coastal wetlands for both birds and people. CWPPRA barrier island restoration projects, like TE-20 and PO-27, are home to beach-nesting birds such as Black Skimmers, Least Terns and Wilson’s Plovers. Marsh creations, like ME-31 and CS-81, provide habitat for rare species of birds such as the Least Bittern and the Black Rail.

At the Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration on April 13th, CWPPRA Outreach discussed coastal issues with passionate birders and Grand Isle locals. Several groups of birders played Wetland Jeopardy and other patrons enjoyed our habitat toss game. We met several educators and representatives of other outreach groups who do similar work to ours and share CWPPRA’s mission. Visitors had a wide array of tour options throughout the day, including guided walks, kayaking trips, and banding demonstrations. As each group returned, they would add all the species they observed to a checklist at the headquarters where we were set up.

Many of us here in Louisiana enjoy our coastal wetlands. From people to beautiful birds, CWPPRA protection and restoration projects work to enhance our wetlands for everyone.

Featured Image is a Summer Tanager. All photos courtesy of Gabe Griffard.

Louisiana’s Live Oak Cheniers

With coastal needs continuing to grow, we can learn from nature’s history for ways to strengthen our coastlines. While we often think about how barrier islands protect the coast from storms, coastal cheniers and forests across Louisiana are also essential in providing that protection. These coastal forests are often found on shell ridges known as cheniers.

French for “place of oaks”, cheniers act as storm barriers, prevent saltwater intrusion, and provide wildlife habitat for migratory birds and butterflies [1,3]. Cheniers along  Louisiana’s coast extend from Cameron Parish in the west to Iberia Parish” [1]. Due to their higher relief, or height above sea level, a large majority of these areas were cleared for human development uses such as highways, agriculture, and oil and gas [2]. Louisiana originally hosted 100,000 to 500,000 acres of chenier, but today only 2,000 to 10,000 acres remain [1].

While these numbers can be discouraging, local and state efforts are in place to conserve live-oak (Quercus virginiana) cheniers and coastal forests.

Louisiana is fortunate to have programs and organizations like this to conserve the coast and its natural abundance. These practices along with landowner, volunteer and citizen engagement are essential to coastal restoration. You may visit CWPPRA’s website lacoast.gov to learn how you can help Louisiana’s coastal wetlands!

Do your part to conserve our environment and help Louisiana’s coast!

Source:
[1] Louisiana Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Date Accessed October 30, 2018. Available:http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/document/32867-coastal-live-oak-hackberry-forest/coastal_live_oak-hackberry_forest.pdf
[2] Army Corps of Engineers. Southwest Coastal Louisiana Final Integrated Draft and Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement. Date Accessed October 30, 2018. Available:http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Portals/56/docs/PD/Projects/SWCoastal/11%20Appendix%20A%20Env%20Report.pdf
[3] Baton Rouge Audubon Society. Accessed on 10/31/2018. Available:http://www.braudubon.org/peveto-woods-sanctuary.php