Fishermen and spectators came together on Grand Isle, LA this past weekend to be a part of the 34th Annual Creole Classic Fishing Tournament, three days spent hoping to catch “the big one.” This annual event helps raise money for local charities while also giving thousands of outdoor enthusiasts an excuse to have fun on the coast. Held at the Bridge Side Marina in Grand Isle, the fishing tournament awards prizes in adult, child, and sponsor categories for fish like flounder, speckled trout, and bull red. While participants spend their days on the water, in the evenings they gather at the marina to weigh their catch, listen to music, and enjoy Cajun food.
This year the Creole Classic added a children’s activity area on Friday evening, coordinated by Restore or Retreat. Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) outreach staff set up the “Mysterious Wetland Wonders” activity, inviting kids (and adults) to guess the plant or animal relic (like an oyster shell or cypress knee) in the box by reading clues and feeling it with their hands. Kids also created Wilson’s plover chicks with LA Audubon and made prints of starfish and fish with Restore or Retreat. CWPPRA staff also had Protect Our Coast posters, WaterMarks, and Henri Heron Activity books available.
Making Wilson’s plover chicks with LA Audubon
CWPPRA staff try out “Coast 360” with Restore or Retreat
Coastal wetlands provide important habitat for a variety of fish species, helping Louisiana maintain its place as Sportsman’s Paradise. Unfortunately, these habitats are disappearing as erosion and subsidence take their toll on the coastal zone. CWPPRA works with our partners to protect and rebuild coastal wetlands so that fish, and the fishermen who pursue them, have a place to live and play.
On April 1st residents of Lafourche Parish and places farther afield had a sunny and windy day to celebrate the 4th Annual Leeville Art & Heritage Festival in Golden Meadow, LA. Organized by Launch Leeville, this festival works to highlight changes in the landscape and community around Leeville as processes like subsidence, erosion, and sea level rise convert land to water. Staff from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act, and other exhibitors such as the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, were present to talk about the causes of land loss and options for protecting and restoring what remains. In addition to live music, craft vendors, and a shrimp boulette competition, festival-goers could learn about coastal restoration projects, see Houma basket weaving demonstrations, and participate in a fishing rodeo.
Leeville sits along Bayou Lafourche and Louisiana Rt. 1, two geographic features that have witnessed a number of CWPPRA projects, from the West Belle Pass Headland Restoration (TE-23) project, which created new marsh and stabilized shorelines to the south of Port Fourchon, to the GIWW to Clovelly Hydrologic Restoration (BA-02) project, which increased freshwater availability to prevent higher salinity levels which could damage local vegetation. Another CWPPRA project, East Leeville Marsh Creation and Nourishment (BA-194), is currently in engineering & design and would provide increased southeastern protection for Leeville from weather and tides. Preserving the livelihoods and heritage of small communities like Leeville requires both protecting their physical setting and giving them the time and space to develop strategies for a changing future.
Folks in New Orleans had no need to wait for Earth Day to celebrate the environment- the Audubon Zoo hosted their annual Earth Fest on March 18, and the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act was on-hand to discuss the importance of wetlands and wetland conservation in Louisiana. Visitors to the zoo could answer questions at each exhibitor’s booth to collect stamps and win a prize- for those who wanted to test their wetlands knowledge further, CWPPRA staff had the “Wetland Jeopardy” game ready and waiting. Staff also distributed posters from the #ProtectOurCoast series, activity books, and other CWPPRA publications.
This full-day event at the zoo included live music, information on student work, and the opportunity to talk with representatives from Louisiana Sea Grant, the National Park Service, bee-keeping groups, and other organizations with an eye to the environment. Celebrating Earth Fest in March is a great way to remember that environmental conservation, including of wetlands, is not just something for a single day- CWPPRA projects work to protect and restore wetlands throughout the year for the communities, livelihoods, and wildlife that depend on them.