Coastal Day at the Louisiana Legislature

On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act’s Public Outreach staff participated in the annual Coastal Day at the Louisiana Legislature. This event, organized by the Coast Builders Coalition, aims to educate legislators about the tremendous effort being made to protect and restore Louisiana’s coast.  Coastal Day is a key moment to communicate with and educate representatives and legislators from across the state about the value of protection and restoration of Louisiana’s coast.

The CWPPRA outreach team shared a number of publications at Coastal Day containing information regarding what CWPPRA is, the effectiveness of its projects, and the future of coastal Louisiana. In addition to distributing information and answering questions regarding CWPPRA’s completed, active, and future projects, the outreach staff attended a meeting in which Governor John Bel Edwards spoke highly of restoration efforts in Louisiana and the importance of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. He also recognized the value of wetlands to both the state and the country, declaring his enthusiasm to move forward with the opportunity to resolve the coastal crisis and become more adept at water management. In addition to the governor, speakers including Representative Jerome Zeringue, Senator Dan Morrish, Johnny Bradberry with CPRA, and Scott Kirkpatrick with Coast Builders Coalition discussed issues affecting Louisiana’s coast. Steve Cochran with Restore the Mississippi River Delta and the Environmental Defense Fund discussed a recent poll in which a resounding 97 percent of voters agreed that Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are important to them.

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Louisiana Green Schools Youth Summit

It’s never too early to start thinking about sustainability- that was the message embodied by participants at the Louisiana Green Schools Youth Summit on March 24 held at the Audubon Zoo. An event organized by the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission and the Louisiana USGBC Chapter, the summit brought together students in grades 5 through 12 to discuss green initiatives in their schools and learn about other aspects of sustainability. Staff from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act were there with information about the many different types of careers, including engineering, geology, and tourism, that contribute to coastal restoration efforts. CWPPRA staff also had #ProtectOurCoast posters and issues of WaterMarks for students. With almost 90 participants and exhibitors including Louisiana DEQ, Joule Energy, and The Green Project, the Youth Summit was an opportunity to look at how groups focusing on different aspects of sustainability, including CWPPRA’s wetland restoration projects, come together to create a better long-term future for Louisiana.

LEEC 2017

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.

World Wetlands Day 2017

World Wetlands Day is designated as a day to raise global awareness about the value and benefits of wetlands for both humanity and the planet; it is celebrated every February 2nd. Wetlands provide an immense number of benefits to not only the surrounding areas via protection, but also thriving aquaculture industries and commodities on both a national and international level. Healthy wetlands play a vital role in sustaining life and acting as natural safeguards in extreme weather events through disaster risk reduction.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act participated in the appreciation of wetlands by attending the World Wetlands Day Celebration on February 2nd, 2017 at the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum in Houma, La. The South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center hosted its 8th annual celebration by inviting third grade students from St. Matthews Episcopal School and Honduras Elementary, as well as sixth grade students from St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, totaling 185 local students, to learn about different aspects of wetlands. The CWPPRA Public Outreach Staff informed students about the relevance of wetlands by drawing connections between four different yet familiar types of wetlands and seafood, previous hurricane activity in the region, industry jobs, and wetland functionality. In order to do so, the CWPPRA staff incorporated the Where the Wild Things Are game to teach the students about wetland habitats and the animals living in them. This game consisted of students matching different wetland bean bag animals to the correct habitat: swamp, marsh, barrier island, and ocean. Where the Wild Things Are provides an opportunity for students to understand the connections between different wetland environments, recognize the adaptability of some animals to more than one habitat, and identify specific characteristics of each habitat, such as vegetation.

 

 

RAE Conference 2016

Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of bays and estuaries as essential resources for our nation. RAE member organizations restore coastal habitats in 11 estuaries and 16 states nationwide. RAE is also involved in the economics and valuation of estuaries, blue carbon, living shorelines, national advocacy, and a wide range of coastal restoration issues. The Coastal Society (TCS) is an organization that is dedicated to actively addressing emerging coastal issues by fostering dialogue, forging partnerships, and promoting communications and education. TCS is comprised of private sector, academic, and government professionals and students who are committed to promoting and effectively improving management of the coasts and ocean.

Restore America’s Estuaries and The Coastal Society hosted the 8th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and the 25th Biennial Meeting of The Coastal Society on December 10-15 at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in New Orleans, La. The Summit is an international gathering encompassing all disciplines within the coastal and estuarine restoration and management communities. RAE and TCS  worked with 200 partnering and supporting organizations to develop the Summit program and welcomed more than 1,200 attendees from the restoration and management communities: non-profit and community organizations, Indian Country, academic and research institutions, businesses with an interest in the coast, and agencies from all levels of government. Restoration and management-interested groups or individuals gathered for an integrated discussion to explore issues, solutions, and lessons learned in their work. The theme of the 2016 conference, “Our Coasts, Our Future, Our Choice,” reflected the environmental, economic, and cultural importance of our coasts to residents of surrounding areas and to the nation as a whole.

To initiate the conference’s 550 oral presentations in 110 sessions, as well as 200 poster presentations, the Marc J. Hershman Opening Plenary session on “The Gulf of Mexico- Proving Ground for Regional Recovery Strategies” discussed how restoration in the Gulf is faring as enormous resources start to pour in. The subsequent days highlighted climate change, economic vitality, as well as coastal communities across the nation and the ecosystems they rely upon through sessions, a coastal film series,  and science communications coffee breaks. The closing plenary session covered “Changing Tides: What the New Congress and Administration Mean for Advancing Coastal Restoration and Management” with a panel discussion from leaders in coastal conservation, communications, and climate change policy. Among the 80 exhibitors was the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act. The CWPPRA exhibit debuted two new posters in the “Protect Our Coast” poster series campaign with accompanying banners in our photo booth, in addition to an array of available CWPPRA publications. As a follow up to the previous Brown Pelican and Louisiana iris posters, a coastal sunset scene and blue crab were each depicted. 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.

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Ocean Commotion 2016

oc-01The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program hosted its annual educational, coastal-based event, Ocean Commotion, on October 27 at the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La. The primary purpose of Ocean Commotion is to give students the chance to learn about and touch the products of the sea and coast—the aquatic animals, plants, and minerals—upon which Louisiana’s citizens are so dependent. In attendance were 2,138 K-8 students, 121 teachers and 139 chaperons  from East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Jefferson, East Feliciana, and Assumption parishes.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act encourages the connection between students and the coast by providing the opportunity to become “hands-on” with activities that foster interests in and curiosity for Louisiana’s passive shoreline environments. Among the 70 exhibits from universities, non-profits, state and local governments, student clubs, science and museum centers and K-12 student exhibitors was the CWPPRA Mysterious Wetland Wonders activity.  Participants were encouraged to reach inside the seven mystery boxes, read clues, and try to identify the wetland item hidden inside each box without peeking! The mystery items included a seashell, apple snail shell, oyster shell, cypress knee, Spanish moss, nutria pelt, and a magnolia seed pod. In order for future generations to effectively protect our oceans, coastlines, and wetlands, learning about the importance and benefits of each is essential.

TVFWD Annual Inspection Meeting

The Teche-Vermilion Basin Project was included in the 1966 Flood Control Act after a 1961 study by Louisiana’s Department of Public Works showed deteriorating water quality and insufficient water in Bayou Vermilion and Bayou Teche. Ground water was threatened with contamination by salt water due to lack of flow of the Teche and Vermilion Bayous. The purpose of the project is to restore the flow of water to the Teche-Vermilion basin, improve water quality through the increased flow, and prevent salt water from entering the lower parts of the basin. The increased flow is also intended to restore the water supply available for agricultural and industrial needs before the protection levees were built. The state legislature created the Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District Board of Commissioners in 1969. The Board of Commissions was charged with responsibility for the maintenance and operations of the original project of the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as major replacements.

On October 21, CWPPRA staff attended the Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District Annual Inspection Meeting at the Teche-Vermilion Pump Station in Krotz Springs, La. The meeting began with a welcome speech from Donald Sagrera, TVFWD Executive Director. Introductions of property possession parish commissioners were made beginning with Ed Sonnier, Lafayette Parish; Donald Segura, Iberia Parish; Tommy Thibodeaux, St. Martin Parish; Mike Detraz, Vermilion Parish; and Bradley Grimmett, St. Landry Parish. A positive inspections report was given by Darrel Pontiff of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, as well as Ted Elts of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Ed Sonnier, TVFWD Chairman, introduced Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, who was the event’s guest speaker. The presentation continued with recognition of TVFWD staff and sponsors given by Cecil Knott, Operations Supervisor, and Alex Lopresto, TVFWD Legal Advisor. TVFWD Executive Director Donald Sagrera ended the ceremony with closing remarks.

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