Darlene Boucher – Coastal Louisiana Photographer

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Darlene Boucher has been documenting her beloved coastal Louisiana for decades. Her photographs evoke the wildness and uncompromising intimacy of the marshes, bays, bayous and barrier islands through a distinctly personal lens. 

“What inspires me about our beautiful state are our rivers, bayous and marshes that thrive with wildlife and I get to observe and photograph them! To be one with nature and to witness the shrimpers, crabbers and fisherman all going about their day is something not everyone gets to see. And the sunrises are unbelievable! I am obsessed. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, an occasional visitor into their wonderful world!” –Darlene Boucher

She has an eye for coastal birds in particular, and a journey through her Flickr account will introduce you to a variety of feathered friends in repose and on the hunt for dinner, nurturing their young and preening in the sun. She enjoys the bounty of the wetlands as well, and her photographs of those that provide for their families both daily and the occasional meal convey the importance of the wetlands to Louisiana’s communities as well as its wildlife. Her sunsets are especially peaceful, and captures the reflective meditation of the end of another day.

Find your favorite image and share it with us here or online!

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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.

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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.

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Campers posing with an alligator hatched in 2017

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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!

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Carefully removing a male cardinal from the mist net

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House Sparrow that made its way into our mist net

National Wildlife Refuge Week

This week’s Wetland Wednesday highlights National Wildlife Refuges in honor of

National Wildlife Refuge Week

So, what is a national wildlife refuge? A national wildlife refuge is a designated area of land which is protected and managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. These public land and water areas are dedicated to conserving wildlife and plants, while providing outreach and educational opportunities to inform the public on habitats and species relevant to the local area. These refuges manage a broad range of landscapes/habitat types such as wetlands, prairies, coastal and marine areas, and temperate, tundra, and boreal forests; as a result, each different habitat type attracts its own web of inhabitants. Many of the national refuges are responsible for rising numbers of endangered species, such as whooping cranes in Louisiana, which are federally protected and closely monitored. National Wildlife Refuges manage six wildlife-dependent recreational uses in accordance with National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, including hunting, fishing, birding, photography, environmental education, and interpretation. Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week by taking part in recreational activities and efforts to maintain safe, sustainable areas for local wildlife.

Click here to find a National Wildlife Refuge near you!

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