Mary Tutwiler

Grassroots efforts help restore coastal marshes

by Mary Tutwiler

Hunters and fishermen (and women) have long been at the forefront of conservation issues. The state organization that works to preserve habitat and protect wildlife, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation has teamed up with their national counterpart to educate the public about the local implications of climate change, and what residents can do to improve prospects for the state’s natural resources. A six hour class, held today at the National Wetlands Center in Lafayette, will be the first in a series of workshops and activities reaching out specifically to hunters and anglers. “Louisiana’s hunters and anglers have their fingers on the pulse of nature, and can sense a changing climate,” says Randy Lanctot, Executive Director of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. “This course is not just going to describe the challenge; we’re going to talk about what we can do to help wildlife adapt and change the forecast.” The class is from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Friday, May 2. The workshop is free, but registration is required. Contact the Wetlands Center at 266-8655.

Tomorrow, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation will be down on Pecan Island working to restore areas impacted by erosion caused by Hurricane Rita. On Saturday, May 3, volunteers from across the state will be planting California bullrush and erecting wood duck boxes. To date, the National Wildlife Federation’s Coastal Louisiana Habitat Restoration Initiative has planted 14,000 plugs of cord grass, 15,000 native longleaf pines, and 25,300 hardwood trees. Over 1000 volunteers have freed 90 acres of land from invasive species, removed 10 tons of trash and debris, and cut or restored 5 miles of trails to allow access to hurricane-impacted areas. To participate , contact Randy Lanctot at [email protected] or 225-344-6707.

If you can’t make it to the class or the coast, another way to help offset the impact of Hurricane Rita is to plant a native tree to help restore Louisiana’s forests, even if you do it in your own back yard. The Bayou Vermilion District , Trees Acadiana and the Boy Scouts have given away over 700 trees since February. There are still about 100 trees left to distribute. Species are willow oak, cherry bark oak, mayhaw, white oak and nuttall oak. While now is not the time to put them in the ground, with a little water and care they will do just fine in their pots until next fall. Call the BVD at 769-7283 or just go weekdays between 7a.m. and 4p.m to pick up a tree.