We need a Wetlands Protection Act!

There I was, sitting in a crowded waiting area, when my eyes fell upon the only magazine I would even care to take off the rack:  Cabela’s Outfitter Journal, the October issue.  I’d never seen the magazine before, and hey, who knows?  I might want to write for them.

The wait was long enough that after I perused the whole thing, read the photo captions, skimmed a couple articles and read word-for-word the article on freshwater redfish in Texas Lakes, my eyes struck upon an article I ordinarily would have passed up.  For some reason, this felt extraordinary.

The article, entitled “Omnibus Public Lands Act Passed by Congress” lured me in with its hook line: ” March 2009 was a month of historic good news for fish, wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts in the Unites States as Congress passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act that includes three of the largest public-land conservation measures in decades.”

Hey, I like fish.  I like wildlife.  I’m an outdoor enthusiast.  I’m also not very knowledgeable about this bill that was passed.  I consoled myself with the reminder that I have been quite busy with all the hats I wear these days.  By the time the evening news comes on, I’m dead to the TV and the world.

So, I read on.

The article focused on four of the 150+ bills that were included in this Act, and one of those really, really struck a chord with me.  And here’s your warning.  If you’re not ready for a tirade and little education to go along with it, click away now.  But if you think you can hang, then buckle up and hang on.

Here’s the one that got me, and I quote the article:

“Wyoming Range Legacy Act, which will sustain more than 1 million acres of prime big-game habitat and native trout waters in an iconic American landscape that has been threatened by oil and gas leasing.”

Dear Louisiana Lawmakers:  Why in the H. E. double hockey sticks can you not get your act in gear enough to craft this same sort of legislation to protect South Louisiana Wetlands that have not only been threatened by oil and gas leasing, but have been sucked almost dry from exploration and drilling for oil and gas?

When I dug a little deeper to find out how the citizens and lawmakers of Wyoming accomplished this feat, I learned that the states of Montana and New Mexico passed similar laws the year before.  And I’m sure if I dug further, I would find similar laws passed in many other states protecting their land, water, and wilderness treasures.

So what are the South Louisiana Wetlands?  Chopped liver?

Hey you folks sitting up there in Maryland, how you like your blue crab?  Boiled?  Steamed?  Or cooked in a good crab stew with a dark roux base?

Oh?  You prefer oysters?  Yea, cher, how ya like dose fixed?  Raw?  Yea, man.  How ’bout dem fried oysters, der huh?  And, don’t you forget ’bout dat oyster spaghetti and stew.  Man, oh man, talk about good.

Me?  I lak dem shrimp.  I eat ’em boiled, fried, stewed, fricase`d (free kah sade).  Jus’ ’bout any way you can cook ’em, dats da way I lak ’em.

Maybe we talk funny.  Maybe we don’t sound so smart.  But all you folks that enjoy seafood from South Louisiana better commit those sights and smells to memory, because if we can’t get the South Louisiana Wetland Act written and passed soon, there will be no more estuary system to support the first phase of the seafood life cycles.  And that, mes ami, is no lie.

Let me see if I can put it to you another way.  If you visit any of the Louisiana wetland advocacy websites, you will see this statistic:  “Coastal Louisiana is losing a football field of land every half hour.”

For some reason, that statement has little to no effect on folks.  So while we go to another meeting, have another debate, a couple football fields of our coastline is being swallowed up by the Gulf of Mexico.

People, did you hear me?

Let me put it to you another way.  Your neighbors have a fence.  Every day when you leave for work, they move the fence an inch over onto your property.  You would not notice it right away.  But I guarantee you when that fence is about 3 feet over into your yard, you will notice it.

This is the dilemma of  South Louisiana Wetlands.  We still have an estuary system here which continues to produce even though it is severely crippled and shrinking in size.  That productivity is very, very deceptive, because the devastation is so slow, it’s not like an earthquake, or a volcano, or even a forest fire.  It’s a slow, even death, that creeps in while we’re asleep and swallows our livelihoods, and then our communities, and then our homes and families.

My doctor laughed at me as I sat reclined on the exam table reading that magazine.  “You’re the only woman I know who would pick that magazine up and read it.  Take it. It’s yours.”

Make no mistake.  That magazine had my name written all over it.  I never have to wait when I go there.  Not once in all the years I’ve been going there have I ever picked up a magazine.   And more importantly, I’ve been there twice a week for the past 8 weeks and have never picked up one magazine, until yesterday.

South Louisiana Wetlands provide a way of life and a culture at the most basal level.  And on up the food chain, they provide about 30% of the nation’s seafood.  About 40% of the nation’s oil and gas is either produced, refined, transported, or piped through these wetlands.  Five of the nation’s shipping ports are located across this coast.

Why, oh why?  Can someone please tell me why?  When future oil and gas leases can be prevented in the ranges of Wyoming, why can’t the same thing be done for South Louisiana Wetlands from 3 miles out in the Gulf (state waters) inland all the way to the north side of Interstate 10?

There is no reason why not.  Actually there are many, many reasons why the South Louisiana Wetlands can be and should be protected.

I’m no politician.  I’ve stayed as independent as I possibly can so that I have been free to say and do what I need to say and do for the protection and restoration of these wetlands.

Now, I’m going to make some phone calls to some people in Wyoming and see just how in the world this little old Bayou Woman can get the ball rolling down here in coastal Louisiana.  They might be home, home on their range, and I am happy as a crawfish in mud for them; but cher, it’s high time somebody got off the pot down here and got something done right for a change.

SunsetThanks for letting me vent.  For now, here’s your question:

If you were a Congressperson, would you vote for a South Louisiana Wetland Act?  Why or why not?

BW

 

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Comments

We need a Wetlands Protection Act! — 55 Comments

  1. Absolutely. I’m old enough (73) to have seen a generation or so of destruction of our natural infrastructure.

    I lived in Wyoming in the early sixties and my husband and I used to drive through open range summer evenings. Once we saw a cow a few feet from the track that had just delivered a calf.

    I strongly suspect that I would not recognize those long stretches of open range–if they still exist close to Cheyenne.

  2. You better believe I would and I am not even in LA! In fact, I plan to copy your blog if it is ok with you and send it to all the addresses for our senators and statesmen that I have at my disposal along with note of support. What effects our natural environment effects everyone.

    • Now, Blu, you know I don’t feed the wildlife. I didn’t feed you, did I? LOL! I have been waiting sooooo long to see a black bear out on one of my tours, and can you believe it? This bear shows up way up the bayou in a subdivision, of all places! And I’m going to ignore your comment about the pig sty, because that’s not the problem at all. How much wetlands do they have in Kansas, Blu?

  3. Breaks my heart. When will people realize you can’t destroy the environment and expect to have anything left to sustain the population?

    Thanks for the heads-up on this.

    Tink

    • Welcome to the bayou, Tink, and your comments are well received. I hope you become a regular visitor here. We joke, and pick, and have become a big family of readers from all over who all share a love for South Louisiana Wetlands. Come back soon! BW

  4. With God there are no ironic twists…He always answers our prayers in three ways:
    Yes.
    No.
    I have something better in mind.

    I cannot answer any questions about why it has taken Louisiana lawmakers so long to figure out what people in the Western States did finally come to terms with.

    There are ways for oil and fish to co-exist…just doesn’t seem to happen in Louisiana.

    Thank you for your passionate response to this article. Glad you found it, but I am even more grateful that you explained it so succinctly to all your Bayou Woman readers.

    I guess I have been so busy reading hundreds of pages on coastal restoration and Master plan…I had not thought about what laws can do when men will not take action.

    Tonight I have been reading an article from Spring 2009 Loyola Law Review

    Loneliness and the Law: Solitude, Action and Power in Law and Literature by Marc L. Roark

    It talks about the tension between ideas and how ideas can be turned into activities that create both literature and law.

    one small quote:

    the law is filled with empty spaces:
    what is not written,
    what is not said but meant,
    and what is unsayable and unprintable.

    From Shakespeare to Oliver Wendell Holmes and even Emerson this is a great article. I will bring my copy with me when I come to Bayou Dularge. Actually was reading it while at Camp Dularge the last time.

    The Bible and Law Reviews…. and apparently fishing magazines!

    Ekekiel 34:18

    Love, Lillian

    Keep the Faith!

    I wish there was a spelling checker for posting comments like this!

  5. BW, you have a lot of us on your side.

    Blufloyd, thanks for the link on the bear! I really enjoyed the article. Never know what you are going to see in southern LA!

  6. I’m still waiting for someone in Washington to answer Vitter’s question as to why the Wetland Program has yet to begin. Remember way back several years ago we had $$ allocated to staunch the flow to the barrier islands and our wetlands? After so MANY made moola off a committee ( archaic… a person to whom a charge or trust is committed) appointed to look into this nothing was ever done. Not even started. That was before Katrina and we are still waiting for an answer.

    But our gov. is trying to help:

    http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2009/09/jindal_administration_working.html

  7. Most of my comments and revisions were lost when my server went down. I had a lot more to say about the importance of our coastal states including Calif., the east coast where hurricanes have recently hit and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Iowa, you say? They feel forgotten by their government just like us.

    http://blog.nola.com/jarvisdeberry/2009/09/jarvis_deberry_recovery_in_ced.html

    When will our elected officials do something to help us? What will it take for the country to wake up and smell the stench that is our rotting wetlands and coastal areas?

    My toes are squishy from the soap box and my feet are wrinkled from the rising water.

    Thanks for listening. I won’t go into how important we are to the rest of the country

    Gee, I hope I win a prize!!

  8. Ok, I’m not exactly sure why WordPress decided to automatically post this as a comment on your site, but I guess it kind of answers your question on whether I would vote for a South Louisiana Wetlands Act.

  9. Wendy:

    Ironies of Ironies, Jeff Bingaman–(D-NM), chair energy Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources–would like to end the Oil and Gas Revenue Sharing program that provides Louisiana with a tiny fraction of the revenues from drilling in the Louisiana wetlands for wetlands restoration.

    Bingaman is the guy who proposed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act in January 2009 and got it through the Senate double time.

    Great Post.

    • Quinta, I can see where he’s coming from; however, I think he will go in the “foe” column, right? LOL! Thanks for this. Sometimes, I scare myself when I bite off more than I can possibly chew and see that I’m way out of my league, but I just can’t help myself! You, as a photo journalist who has traveled the Mississippi wetlands from the headwaters to the mouth, can certainly understand that.

      • One last thing.

        Are not more of Louisiana’s wetlands from the barrier islands to north of I-10 in private hands, and therefore out of state control?

        Do not most of the lands set aside in the omnibus bill public, specifically federal lands in the west?

        But do not companies, like Apache Minerals, which you introduced me to, restore their wetlands, because if they do disintegrate and sink, ownership reverts to the state? Maybe that’s the lever you have over oil and gas companies and your legislators .

      • Quinta, my use of I-10 is an exaggeration; but I used it because that is the boundary line where the federal government would have all of us retreat above. Looking more specifically at what Wyoming did in regards to private lands, they confronted some of these same issues and found ways around them.

        In the case of Apache, what I showed you was the annual reinforcing of the perimeter of Lake Decade in order to prevent their marsh surrounding the lake from becoming part of the lake and thereby becoming state waters. The catch-22 is that now, if we take a look over those false, somewhat elevated shorelines, we see marshes that are going to open water because the reinforced shoreline prevents the diurnal tides from nourishing and refreshing said marshes. So NOW, they must keep reinforcing the bank because there appears to me to be more open water on the other side than ever. When the shoreline erodes way in certain spots, small fishing boats just scoot right up in those areas and fish away! (which is trespassing by the way). But you see the thought? They see an opening, they see water, and they just go right in.

  10. I have been hunting and fishing for most of my 51 years and feel it an honor that mother nature allowed me to be part of her bounty. I spent my childhood in Minnesota, my young adult life in Alaska, and most likely will spend the rest of it in Northern California. I believe that most hunters and fisherman are the ultimate conservations, environmentalists, or whatever the word of the day is. These groups of people form clubs such as Ducks Unlimited, and many others that protect habitat for their grouse, bear, elk, and many other animals. I know one voice is darn hard to hear in a sea of voices but you spoke as one voice and just look how many listened!! Keep talking, we are listening and repeating your words to others 🙂

  11. Didn’t ‘they’ decide that sunken land still is in owners hands? Or is it a case by case thing? I know fishing on the coast can get exciting if you float on wrong area.

  12. My husband’s father is from Rayne, LA. As with all Trahan’s in that part of the country, he is proud of his Cajun ancestry. His mama is from Scrappin’ Valley, Texas but that doesn’t stop him from clinging tightly to the Cajun in him. The Louisiana wetlands have sheltered and sustained the Cajun people for hundreds of years and must be protected! I spent many years in Wyoming and Louisiana is no less worthy of protection. Get ’em, Bayou Woman!

    Oh, by the way, I’m German through and through but I’ve learned to make a mean etouffee! ;0)

    • German through and through? So is another reader here, and honey, she has learned to make a mean shrimp and andouille jambalaya!!! Welcome to the bayou, Marty, and I hope you become a regular reader. We always welcome new flavor here! Thanks for sharing your family history, too! BW

  13. I’ll vent too! I’m fed up with most politicians! I feel most of them choose to be there for themselves not for “The People”. Look at all the legal and illegal (i.e. W. Jefferson) opportunities they walk away from Washington with. Where else in the world can you get fired (not re -elected) and draw a salary for life.
    Ok, Ok, I haven’t really written about the wetland situation, but I think y’all know where I was “going”. Too much back scratching, back peddling, and back door deals to tend to, instead of listening to ALL the voters. I hope there is another “Ronald Regan” out there somewhere and he/she surfaces soon! Someone smart, but uses common sense also. I happen to like living in S.La..(however, I am a little north of BW), We need to get the wetlands/marshes built back up. I’d hate to have to move up north, like say to the Shreveport/Bossier. La. area. LOL! Love ya BW, and all that you do for S.La. etc.

  14. Girl there is NO WAY we would’nt read you! Your passion brings me back daily.. 🙂 I think that some of the reason those area’s are more protected is because the Native American population is VERY involved in those states. Perhaps you could involve your local ‘tribes’ or native population? Do the natives there not have rights to the costal lands at all? Just throwing things in the air for a guess to help.

    • Heidi, you make a very, very good point. Part of the problem here is that our largest band of Native Americans is not federally recognized. That presents a big problem as far as getting any kind of government assistance. No, they don’t have any rights. As a matter of fact, our parish has Native Americans on all five of the bayous, and we are treated like stepchildren in almost every coastal restoration and protection decision. I guess it’s because we are hard working fishermen and women and are not educated and cannot advocate for ourselves that we get the short end of the stick. Uh oh, here I go again!

  15. Okie dokie, everyone, including all you LURKERS out there! Today is your last day to comment. I think Scott at Community Coffee in Baton Rouge is giving away a coffee fresh canister this time. Listen, in case you didn’t know. Community is not a national company. It is a state company, whose popularity is growing. They do much more than buy and sell coffee. If you want to know more, read some of the history on their site.

    So, get those comments in here, for tonight will be the drawing!

    BW

  16. Can you tell me why the “Houmas” aren’t recognized by our Government? I’ve known this for a while now, but have no idea the reason they are not.

    • There are a certain number of “points of origin” that they have to meet, and they do not meet all of them. Meaning, the government is not convinced that they were ever a real tribe. It is ridiculous because they have suffered very “real” discrimination for years for being Native American, even though they are not considered real Native Americans by the govt. Sad.

  17. Oh boy Steffi, be very careful opening up that tribal can of worms! The “treaty tribes” up in the Northern areas are just as much to blame for many Southern states tribal issues as the government is. That’s a rant in a WHOLE different direction I could go on, lol.

    BW- I would vote for it! It’s crazy how so many bills get passed that we voters don’t even know about, tons of things get stuck in a very important bill just so it will go through unnoticed. Read the Farm Bill—see what’s stuck in there you don’t agree with!!!

  18. Just out of curiosity, how much do the Houma’s lack in gaining federal recognition? A few Oklahoma tribes have lost and regained theirs several times of the past few years. It’s not impossible to obtain but darn near! I would start there and work that through like Heidi says the tribes really do pack a punch with Congress if they want to.

  19. Are you kidding? Of course I would vote for it. We struggle here in the mountains with mountaintop removal. Coal companies scalp the tops of the mountains to dig out the black heart–coal. And Hank Williams Jr (I used to like him) came here this weekend and said “Hell Yeah! dig that coal!” Hank sold out to big money (Massey Energy spent $1 million to stage this big event). Like your wetlands battle, we struggle to get our voices heard over those screaming “gotta have more coal!” I’m not opposed to coal mining, but please leave the beautiful mountains that make this place special.

    • Sue, I can’t imagine that. The mountains are so beautiful . . . so I do sympathize with you and any loss of that magnitude. Thanks for taking the time to comment here. Your words are always welcome! BW

  20. Like I have always said – your passion shines through on this issue! I still see you leading the masses to Washington D.C. to protest and fight for the place you love best.

    • Kim, do you really see me doing that? I’m afraid I haven’t been very good with my spoken words lately. My brain seems to be in somewhat of a verbal fog. Thanks for the confidence in me, though!

  21. AND RANDOM.ORG HAS PICKED OUR WINNER OUT OF 15 DIFFERENT COMMENTERS, IN ORDER OF FIRST COMMENT BEING COUNTED (MULTIPLES NOT COUNTED THIS GO ROUND). AND THE RANDOM INTEGER IS:

    Here are your random numbers:

    4

    Timestamp: 2009-09-09 06:14:14 UTC

    Now, I shall go see who number 4 is . . . . .TINK!!! Congratulations, Tink! I hope you would like to have a Community Coffee canister? Please email me your address, and that will go out to you this week! Congratulations! And thanks to everyone for this lively discussion, and we might have to continue this along the way! See you soon with a new post! BW

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