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.
Thanks 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?