Volunteers Work to Rebuild New Orleans' Wetlands
Interview with Danny Breaux, 20-year employee with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
The area around New Orleans has lost much of the wetland acreage that helped protect the city from hurricane storm surges. Since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, many public agencies and private organizations have increased their efforts to plant grasses and trees at the water's edge to enable soil to gather around the roots and gradually build more protective land.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus participated in one such effort in late March, in conjunction with Common Ground Relief and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She joined a group of 25 volunteers that were ferried by airboat to a tiny piece of reclaimed land in the Big Branch Wildlife Preserve on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, about an hour from New Orleans. After spotting half a dozen small alligators in the canal on the trip, they spent the day planting spartina grass, salt hay and bulrushes, often sinking into the black mud above their knees.
Tuhus spoke with Danny Breaux, a 20-year employee of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service who coordinates volunteer efforts at Big Branch. He talked about the impacts of soil erosion on residents' safety in hurricane season, as well as the importance of wetlands to the Louisiana fisheries industry.
Contact the Fish & Wildlife Service at (504) 442-2314 or visit their website at www.fws.gov. Additional information on the group Common Ground Relief can be found on their website www.commongroundrelief.org
* Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana in Baton Rouge at www.crcl.org
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