June — Great Outdoors Month

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.

World Water Day

Water, promoter of all life forms on Earth, is recognized today- World Water Day!  In Louisiana, 47% of the state’s population resides in the coastal zone, with a majority of livelihoods reliant on water. Industries such as aquaculture, agriculture, oil and gas, and tourism depend on the sustainability and quality of Louisiana’s waters.  This essential natural resource has a synergistic relationship with Louisiana’s wetlands, providing vital nourishment to fisheries, wildlife, and Louisiana’s coastal growth.  Wetlands improve water quality by trapping suspended solids and filtering other pollutants. Coastal marshes filter excess nitrogen and phosphorus, thus helping to prevent algal blooms and maintaining oxygen in the water for fish and shellfish. Wetlands can retain, remove, and transform nutrients that might otherwise contribute to declining water quality. Clean water is important for healthy fish, wildlife, and humans. Water is not only a commodity, but a contributor to life… appreciate it, preserve it, and protect it!

Water is the key to life, celebrate World Water Day!

Wetlands

 

 

 

Estuaries

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

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Wetland Habitat

More than one-third of threatened and endangered species in the United States live only in wetlands, and nearly half use wetlands at some point in their lives. Estuarine and marine fish, shellfish, various birds, and certain mammals must have coastal wetlands to survive.

CWPPRA has protected,  created, or restored approximately 95,954 acres of Louisiana’s vanishing coastal wetlands in its first 25 years. Those restored swamps, marshes, and barrier islands/headlands and associated open-water habitats provide foraging, nesting, breeding, wintering, escape cover, and nursery habitat for a myriad of coastal fish and wildlife. Species that benefit include threatened, endangered, at-risk, and rare species, as well as commercially and recreationally valuable species and state and national fish and wildlife trust resources. Habitats restored through CWPPRA have aided in the delisting of our national symbol, the bald eagle, and the Louisiana state bird, the brown pelican, from the endangered species list.

Number of acres CWPPRA projects have benefited for fish and wildlife habitat:

  • 25,900 acres – fresh marsh/swamp
  • 21,700 acres – intermediate marsh
  • 19,000 acres – brackish/saline marsh
  • 6,200 acres – barrier islands/headlands
  • 15,700 acres – combined coastal habitats

 

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Wetland Crustacean

Crawfish

crawfish

A well-known part of Louisiana’s culture is the state’s unique cuisine and the celebrations and gatherings which surround it. During late winter and spring, Louisiana’s state crustacean, the crawfish, is at the heart of many celebrations. The crawfish, an easily recognizable icon in Louisiana’s rich history and economy, has made an important impact on the state.

The two species of crawfish harvested for commercial use are the Red Crawfish (Procambarus clarki) and White or River Crawfish (Procambarus acutus). While looking very similar, the White Crawfish has one slender and one large pincer and inhabits deeper bodies of water when compared with the Red Crawfish which has two large pincers and is commonly found in bayous, ditches, and swamps. Although the characteristic habitat location varies among the two species, most harvested boil sacks contain both Red and White Crawfish. Both species’ living environments surround wetlands and coastal regions where the aquaculture industry has skyrocketed and continues to thrive.

Crawfish are important to Louisiana’s economy, and more than 7,000 people depend directly or indirectly on the crawfish industry. Crawfish provide an abundance of jobs as they are caught by fishermen, sold, processed, distributed, and shipped, and then finally make their way to customers or onto a restaurant table. Technology has advanced the methods of harvest such that crawfish farming has developed into the largest freshwater crustacean aquaculture industry in the United States. Louisiana leads the nation in crawfish production with nearly 800 commercial fishermen harvesting from wetlands like the Atchafalaya Basin and more than 1,600 farmers harvesting in some 111,000 acres of ponds. The total impact on the Louisiana economy exceeds $300 million annually, with a combined annual yield ranging from 120-150 million pounds.

Eat more crawfish, cher! 

Source

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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Protect Our Coast

Did you know:

CWPPRA debuted a new poster series campaign entitled “Protect Our Coast.”

Each of the four posters in the series depict a coastal related image accompanied by an explanation of how the image connects to wetlands and CWPPRA.

iris_finalThe state’s designated wildflower, the Louisiana iris can be found along the margins of freshwater bayous and sloughs. Having little tolerance for salt water, the Louisiana iris is one of many plant species at risk from saltwater intrusion. Channels dredged through wetlands alter the natural hydrology, resulting in increased salinity and the loss of fresh water vegetation and organisms. CWPPRA hydrologic restoration and freshwater diversion projects regulate salinity and restore the natural hydrology of wetlands, preserving the iris and many other iconic Louisiana plants and animals.

sunset_finalCWPPRA –The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act– is federal legislation enacted to identify, engineer and design, and fund the construction of coastal wetlands restoration projects. These projects provide for the long-term conservation of wetlands and dependent fish and wildlife populations. Projects funded by CWPPRA are cost-effective ways of restoring, protecting, and enhancing coastal wetlands. CWPPRA has a proven track record of superior coastal restoration science and monitoring techniques in Louisiana.

 

crab_finalLouisiana accounts for over half of all commercial harvest landings in the Gulf of Mexico. Wetlands, particularly coastal marshes, play an imperative role in the life cycle of about 90% of Gulf marine species, including the blue crab. Providing a protective nursery, wetlands house an immensely diverse quantity of species that rely upon this habitat. CWPPRA aims to continue the protection and restoration of these essential habitats for wildlife, aquaculture, and fisheries.

 

pelican_finalMangroves, which are used for nesting by Louisiana’s Brown Pelican, are threatened by the loss of Louisiana’s barrier islands. These islands are vanishing at an alarming rate due to man-made changes to coastal Louisiana, including the leveeing of the Mississippi River. Recognizing the ecological importance of barrier islands and their critical role in reducing hurricane storm surge in Louisiana, CWPPRA has played a part in the restoration of nearly every barrier island and barrier headland in Louisiana’s Barataria Basin.

 

Download your CWPPRA Protect Our Coast poster here! Don’t forget to spread coastal awareness by using the campaign hashtag #ProtectOurCoast!