This Saturday, sportsmen from across the country will be celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day, a large, long-standing grassroots initiative promoting outdoor sports and conservation.
As hunters focus their attention on waterfowl season and anglers look forward to casting lines, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) continues to keep its eye on the recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast in the wake of the BP Oil Disaster that has caused heavy damage to a region so important to American sportsmen.
“The Deepwater Horizon well has been capped and reports are claiming that much of the oil has been removed from the Gulf,” Land Tawney, NWF’s Senior Manager for Sportsmen Leadership, said. “Unfortunately, this is just the end to the beginning of the impacts we may see from this disaster. The impacts to wildlife, hunting and fishing remain to be seen.”
Not only is the Gulf of Mexico home to the world’s most productive fishery, the coastal areas along the mouth of the Mississippi River-especially Louisiana’s wetlands-provide vitally important wintering habitat for twenty percent of the nation’s waterfowl each year.
The Mississippi River Delta faces an astonishing amount of land loss annually due to natural and manmade factors, such as levees that cut off the river’s natural ability to deposit replenishing sediment into the wetlands and salt water intrusion made possible by canals built for industrial purposes. In fact, every 38 minutes coastal marsh the size of a football field vanishes. These problems are now combining with oil seeping into the marshes, posing a serious threat to an ecosystem that supports wildlife and our outdoor heritage all along the Mississippi and Central Flyways.
“Coastal Louisiana’s ecosystem was in trouble long before the oil spill from the rapid rate of land loss this region suffers annually,” Tawney said. “We have to take aggressive action now to preserve and restore these areas for future generations. National Hunting and Fishing Day is a perfect opportunity to remind us how important this habitat is for our sporting heritage. Without large-scale restoration and recovery of these wetlands, our legacy is at risk not only in Louisiana but up and down the Mississippi and Central Flyways.”
Sportsmen can visit www.vanishingparadise.org for more information on how to take action to help protect and restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.