Located in the heart of South America is the world’s largest wetland that has not been significantly modified by humans, the Pantanal. The Pantanal is often referred to as South America’s biggest biodiversity star. However, it is also one of the continent’s best-kept secrets, often overshadowed by the Amazon Rainforest. This massive wetland covers an area estimated at 75,000 square miles across Bolivia, Paraguay, and (mostly) Brazil. The Pantanal is home to over 4,700 species of plants and animals.
The array of life in the Pantanal relies on an annual flooding cycle. When it rains, about 80 percent of the floodplain is submerged underwater; throughout the dry season the water lessens. This process is essential to nurturing a biologically diverse collection of plants and providing nutrients that the wetlands need to flourish. An area that is the size of Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, and Portugal combined needs a lot of water to guarantee that it continues to flood and a healthy ecosystem is preserved. The quality of the water is also important to maintaining a nourishing environment. Recently, human activity has been threatening this precious wetland. The Pantanal is threatened by intensive farming, deforestation, and pollution. Few signs of this situation improving are shown, and environmental issues are difficult to resolve quickly. Conservation of the biodiversity and natural resources of the Pantanal is essential.
While there are some people who cannot spend enough time outdoors, enjoying all of nature’s gifts, there are others who need a little more motivation to get outside and seek the beauty of our outdoors. What better time for either party to embrace the outdoor spirit of America than in the month of June, Great Outdoors Month. The month kicks off with a Presidential Proclamation, which advocates for all Americans to visit the great outdoors and to protect our nation’s legacy by conserving our lands for future generations. The Proclamation discusses the numerous possibilities for Americans to explore, play, and grow together through outdoor activities. Any activities from hiking to canoeing to wildlife watching, hunting, or fishing can involve kids by being healthy, active, and energized.
More and more Americans are seeking healthy and fun outlets as ways to stay active. The outdoor recreation community is situated in an exemplary position to help people lead a healthier lifestyle by welcoming them and providing guidance on how to take advantage of the great outdoors. Wetlands provide recreational opportunities such as fishing, canoeing, hiking, bird watching, and waterfowl hunting, just to name a few. One of the largest and most avid groups of people using wetlands is waterfowl hunters. There are an estimated 3 million migratory bird hunters in the United States. This year, new studies by the recreation community will record data on the key role outdoor recreation plays in local, state, and national economies. Outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse in our country generating nearly $887 billion in consumer spending each year and creating 7.6 million jobs. Great Outdoors Month is designed to highlight the benefits of getting involved with our great outdoors and enjoying natural resources, such as forests, parks, refuges, and other public land and waters.
The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Louisiana Environmental Education Association hosted the 20th Environmental Education State Symposium on February 3-4, 2017 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Baton Rouge, La. The theme of this year’s symposium was “protecting Louisiana’s endangered species.”
The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission (LEEC) provides environmental education news from across Louisiana, including information on environmental education programs, workshops, and grant opportunities. The state symposium furnished opportunities for formal and non-formal environmental educators from Louisiana and surrounding states to meet and share teaching techniques as well as multiple concurrent sessions for various topics and grade levels. Keynote speaker Dr. Jessica Kastler, Coordinator of Program Development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory’s Marine Education Center, used individual cases of endangered species to engage the audience in explorations of the process of science while cultivating environmental stewardship. In addition to the keynote speech, presenters in 15 concurrent sessions provided lesson demonstrations, hands-on workshops, and/or exemplary programs. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Public Outreach Staff was among exhibitors with a multitude of materials to assist teachers of all grade levels in furthering their students’ knowledge in environmental education and coastal protection.
An estuary is an ecosystem comprised of both the biological and physical environment, commonly located where a river meets the sea. Estuaries are 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. One of the most expansive and productive estuaries in the world is located in the United States at the interface of the Mississippi River’s freshwater and the salt water from the Gulf of Mexico.
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 enjoyable recreational activities such as fishing. Continue your love for estuaries and contribute to their well-being by aiming to keep your estuary areas clean of trash and healthy environments for wildlife, vegetation, and others to enjoy!
Share the estuary love for Valentine’s Day! #iheartestuaries
What are the strengths and the successes of CWPPRA?
- Addresses the urgent need for on-the-ground coastal restoration in Louisiana
- Constructs coastal restoration projects that protect critically impaired wetland areas
- To date, has constructed 108 projects with a total of 152 active projects that will protect and restore approximately 100,000 acres of land
- Has 25 years of experience in coastal restoration, acting as the State’s only consistent Federal restoration funding authority
- Upon completion, projects provide benefits which meet local and state restoration planning goals
- Initiated and supports the State’s only coastwide monitoring program to evaluate the efficacy of restoration projects on an ecosystem scale
- Serves as the foundation for the development of restoration science and identification of project needs that have become the platform for other restoration funding programs
Visit the CWPPRA project page to learn more about successful projects in your area.
Significant marsh loss in the Cameron Meadows area is attributed to rapid fluid and gas extraction beginning in 1931, as well as Hurricane Rita and Ike. Rapid fluid and gas extraction resulted in a surface down warping along distinguished geologic fault lines. During the hurricanes of 2005 and 2008, the physical removal of the marsh coupled with subsequent low rainfall has resulted in the conversion of intermediate to brackish marsh to approximately 7,000 acres of open water. In addition to these losses, significant marsh loss has resulted from saltwater intrusion and hydrologic changes associated with storm damages.
The goal of the project is to restore approximately 400 acres of coastal marsh habitat and reduce the fetch by constructing approximately 12,150 linear feet of earthen terraces. Sediment will be hydraulically dredged from the Gulf of Mexico and pumped via pipeline to create approximately 380 acres of marsh (295 acres confined disposal and 85 acres unconfined disposal). Funds are included to plant approximately 180 acres. Approximately 12,150 linear feet of earthen terraces will be constructed in a sinusoidal layout to reduce fetch and wind-generated wave erosion. Terraces will be constructed to +3.0 feet NAVD88, 15 feet crown width, and planted. Terrace acreage will result in four acres of marsh above Mean Low Water.
The Cameron Meadows Marsh Creation and Terracing project is located in Region 4, Calcasieu/Sabine Basin in Cameron Parish, approximately five miles northeast of Johnson Bayou and five miles north of the Gulf of Mexico.
This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 22. The 30% Design Review meeting was completed July 2015 and the 95% Design Review was completed in October 2016. In January 2017, the CWPPRA Task Force approved CS-66 for Phase II Construction.
The Cameron Meadows Marsh Creation and Terracing project sponsors include:
Keep up with this project and other CWPPRA projects on the project page.
This highly invasive, non-native aquatic plant ranks as the second most damaging aquatic weed worldwide. Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta), known as the green monster, is a serious threat to wetland ecosystems as it affects a multitude of different factors. While able to be contained in its native country of Brazil, the eradication of Giant Salvinia in the United States proves difficult with respect to legal herbicides.
Giant Salivinia has oblong floating leaves, approximately one-half to one and one-half inches long, with small vertical hairs on the upper surface. This exotic vegetation forms dense concentrations to create a compiled mat formation, often 3 feet in depth. In a time span of three months, with ideal conditions, a single plant can multiply to cover 40 square miles. With such an immensely rapid growth rate, Giant Salvinia can quickly take over a waterway, causing devastating and lasting results. These mats halt the penetration of sunlight into the water and, by doing so, eliminate native competition by smothering nearby plants and phytoplankton. Fish kills occur as a result of depleted oxygen levels due to the lack of phytoplankton, which in turn destroys the value of an area as waterfowl habitat. Along with natural consequences, Giant Salvinia has the potential to block entire waterways, preventing water vessel passage, whether for recreational or commercial purposes.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act realizes the importance of and continues to work toward establishing a successful eradication method for Giant Salvinia. To aid in the prevention of Giant Salvinia expansion, consider discarding any plant fragments from boating equipment and vessels, as well as discarding garden and aquarium plants, in the garbage as opposed to water bodies.