Louisiana Legislators Gather for the Coast

by Erin Brown, Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator

This fall, Vanishing Paradise has been hard at work educating local Louisiana legislators about the importance of reconnecting the Mississippi River delta to the marsh, and what projects should be prioritized to make sure we are doing the best work possible in the most efficient time frame to turn the tide on coastal land loss. It’s especially important that we follow up on the active 2020 and 2021 hurricane seasons, which accelerated land loss in some areas, with a renewed sense of urgency to get more projects implemented.

During Thanksgiving week, we partnered with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership to host members of the Louisiana delegation of the Congressional Sporting Caucus at Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras, LA. A mix of education and time out in the field was well-received and a time of engagement for all the participants.

Dr. Alisha Renfro, the National Wildlife Federation’s Senior Manager of Science Policy, Gulf Program, highlighted completed local restoration project, an overview of priority projects across the coast, and an update on the impacts of Hurricane Ida to Louisiana’s wetlands. Initial reports are that Hurricane Ida destroyed 106 square miles of coastal wetlands – in areas where those wetlands provide critical storm surge buffers for local communities.

The group of nine legislator attendees listened attentively, asked questions, and promised to work hard to restore our coastline. The next morning, they took to the marsh to not only lay their eyes on the area and make the connection of our coastal land loss crisis to the area, but to also try to collect their bounty from our rich Sportsman’s Paradise. Some of the sportsmen chose to take to the duck blinds, while others chose to see if the redfish and speckled trout were biting.

One participating legislator wrote to us saying, “The Louisiana Legislative Sportsman’s Caucus appreciates the opportunity to learn more about the importance of conservation and protecting our state’s natural resources through implementing the priority projects of interest to sportsmen within the coastal master plan. It is important to take action now to protect the fragile and valuable estuaries that are so vital to Louisiana’s agricultural and seafood industries as well as recreational hunting and fishing.”

We couldn’t agree more!

During a holiday week filled with reflections on gratefulness, there is no doubt they left thankful for the richness of our beautiful estuaries and with an understanding of what must be done to protect this for posterity.