Wednesday, August 12, 2009

            When I started this project I wanted to show the impact and recovery of the ecosystems, and wildlife following Katrina, and the importance of wildlife refuges and the land that they protect. I was able to travel to four different wildlife refuges and one other location that was recommended to me by Ted Jackson of the Time Picayune.  By traveling to these locations able to round out my project because the refuges were located all around New Orleans.

            The first refuge I traveled to was Barataria Preserve. This location was my first glimpse of the wetlands, in the south, and I was impressed with its beauty. It was almost hard to take in. There were photo opportunities everywhere. The refuge allowed me to see the beauty of the wetlands, and I think it was a good location to start with.

            The second refuge I traveled to was Bayou Sauvage. At first to me I was disappointed and unimpressed with what I saw. I expected the refuge to have more wildlife, more trees, and more plants; it was after all a refuge. But there was nothing besides some grasses, and bare trees. It wasn’t until I was able to talk to Byron Fortier, that the absence of everything I thought I should be seeing was explained.  Almost all of the trees, and other wildlife was destroyed during hurricane Katrina, what was once a lush forest, was now almost desolate, and what wasn’t, destroyed during Katrina had been logged and cut down before Bayou Sauvage had become a refuge.  Byron explained to me, that the recovery efforts from the logging where also destroyed during Katrina, so now the park services where not only trying to recover from human interference but natures as well.

            After Bayou Sauvage, Becky and I traveled to Bayou Teche, where we met Donovan Garcia. Donovan grew up on the Bayou and has spent the last 35 years canoeing, boating, and hiking through the wetlands. He gave me an in site into the workings of Wetlands, and the importance of protecting what is fast becoming obsolete. We got into a motorboat and spent the next 5 hours, in the canals of Bayou Teche.  Where mans interference was evident everywhere. Most of the very canals we were traveling on where created by oil companies, to lay pipes in at the bottom of the canals. Everywhere you turn there are no dredging or anchoring signs, to protect the pipes still on the bottom. Donovan was able to show us areas on banks that were broken down dug up where logging companies made little coves to drag the tress out of the forest.  He showed us areas where because of man made earthen levees trapped salt water surges during Hurricanes in, killing hundreds of trees that cant survive in salt water.  Donovan was even able to show us a small oil refinery in the bayou, and pipes left sticking out into the water from oil companies that don’t use them anymore.  Bayou Teche was a great contribution to my essay, I don’t think my project would have been complete without the information I gathered and the photographs I got.

            Big Branch Marsh was the next stop. I was surprised to see the density of forest at this location. But once you got deeper into the refuge you came upon a sight similar to Bayou Sauvage, where the only trees are dead remnants of what they once where, and most surprising of all was through the dead trees you were able to see what appeared to be a very large house. I found it odd that it appears these people built their house with the wetlands as a backyard. I was able to get some photographs that were helpful to my project but I think I this location was the least important of my trip.

            The last place I visited was Delacroix. If there were anything I was missing in my project I found it here.  The Highway on the way to Delacroix provided me with photographs of Cyprus forests being torn down, and new houses being built. Off the highway and onto the small road that took us to Delacroix had a lot of photo opportunities. I must have made Colleen stop the car 40 times, whether from pollution by man or hurricane the bayou along the road, was full with pollution, house siding, car parts, coolers, speedboats, and toilets are just some of the things along that bayou.  Once in Delacroix, I was able to get a photograph that made me sad, it’s of a bunch of dead oak tress that I’m sure were at least a hundred years old. That is the sight that you are greeted with upon entering Delacroix what I’m sure was once a lush grove of ancient oaks, and now are all dead.

            I think my project was successful in showing the devastation of hurricane and man, and the importance of protection what there is left, because it is important. The wetlands protect the city of New Orleans, which is an important city of trade in the U.S. most of the nations goods pass through New Orleans on its way up the Mississippi. Its not only the people of New Orleans or Louisiana that needs to worry about preserving the wetlands but anyone that relies on the shipping and trade industries which is all of us in one way or another.

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