There’s just not a whole lot to say about picking up trash, except that it’s dirty work, and somebody’s gotta do it. However, there’s a heck of a lot to say about litter and those who can’t get it through their thick heads to take their trash home with them rather than throw it into the bayou.
An old man once told me he was grown before he realized he wasn’t supposed to fill his empty soda can or bottle with water and sink it to the bottom of the bayou. That’s what he thought everyone did.
And back then, maybe that IS what everyone did.
Today, boaters don’t even bother to sink their cans or bottles, as indicated by the number of floating beverage containers that have been netted during our wetland tours.
In spite of what seems like endless litter on our waterways and highways, littering is no longer deemed acceptable. Well-meaning organizations talk about getting into the schools and doing educational anti-litter programs. While such programs might have great intentions, children mimic what they see parents (and others) do. Additionally, parents must be proactive about teaching their children not to litter–not even a gum wrapper out the car window.
Further, if you’re a grandparent, you have the wondrous job of helping shape those fresh minds into the new-millennium going-green thinking of recycling and respecting the earth.
Back in 2007, one of my friends and I thought we would put some action behind our dislike for that despicable litter along the waterways. Thus, the first Bayou DuLarge Trash Bash, a grassroots cleanup, was conceived and birthed in early 2007.
Since our community is a long-time commercial fishing and fast-growing sport-fishing community, there would be lots of potential manpower from which to draw. But, it’s a well known fact that people will not pick up trash just for the fun of it, so there had to be compelling motivation and incentive to get them to participate.
All we had to do was put out the bait and set the hook to lure in that manpower (and woman power). The bait was great door prizes and a delicious home-cooked lunch provided after the dumpster was full. Folks love good food and free stuff. That was a no-brainer.
The hook was: “Give something back to the bayou.” Whether commercial or sport fisherman, we could all relate to having taken plenty from the bayous and feeling obliged to give something back.
An unpublished goal of the cleanup was a hope that commercial and sport fishermen, working side-by-side cleaning up the bayou, would help bridge the gap that exists between them. Even though they use the same waters, and must abide by the same state regulations, there is often animosity between these two groups.
Here’s the problem:
The commercial folks, as local residents, perceive the bounty of the waters as belonging to them and resent the intrusion of the sport fishermen. They also resent restrictive legislation brought about by sport fisherman that have negatively impacted their economy.
The sport fishermen, usually weekend warriors, whether local or from out of town, look down their noses at the commercial fisherfolks because of the perception that they over-harvest the resource.
While there is seemingly a great divide between these two bayou benefactor groups, there is also a very huge “catch 22” that will link them as long as there is seafood to be harvested in Louisiana waters.
That “catch 22” is this:
Commercial fisherman should respect and get along with the sport fishermen, because they are the people that purchase and consume the seafood they catch and sell.
Sport fishermen should get along with and respect the commercial fishermen, because they are the hard-working wetlanders who provide the seafood they love to buy and consume.
Our secret hope of a truce was realized as sport and commercial fisher-folks worked together, filling a thirty-yard dumpster to the brim by noon, ate together, and passed a good time. The second year, in 2008, they filled two dumpsters to overflowing by 11 a.m. The number of attendees grew from twenty-five the first year, to fifty the next, and about one hundred people each year since.
Another hope behind the idea of the first cleanup, was that news of what Bayou DuLarge was doing would spread to other bayous (there are at least five more inhabited bayous in our parish) and either inspire them or shame them into doing an annual trash bash of their own. We are proud to announce this year that the communities of Chauvin and Cocodrie on Bayou Petite Caillou held cleanups of their own! Furthermore, there are rumors that Bayou Grand Caillou will be joining us next year.
Fast forward to 2011, and this past Saturday–The Fifth Annual Bayou DuLarge Trash Bash. The pictures tell the best story!
Volunteers waited eagerly at the offloading dock to get their hands on all that nasty flotsam!
. . . a local commercial fisherman that many folks were surprised to see taking part. It was his first year, and it took a little convincing on my part (he’s not crazy about large crowds of strangers), but he definitely brought in the mother lode of trash! We lovingly call him Bayou Fabio (behind his back!).
And then there were the door prizes: Two fishing charters, a night at Camp Dularge, rod and reel combos, ice chests, tackle boxes, Jug’s Seafood gift certificates, Academy Sports gift certificates, a Cajun Bahamas Cruise, T-shirts, and much more–all provided by local businesses!
Beautiful, clean Bayou DuLarge, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
A deep sense of pride is fostered when folks give of themselves to something that produces immediate results. In this case, seeing the bayou so clean provided instant gratification to all who helped out.
If you fish anywhere in southern Terrebonne Parish, consider this your challenge for 2012: Find a bayou trash bash, take part, and give back to the waterways that give so much to you!