We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Clay and I spent all day Tuesday in the Pecan Island area getting footage to show effects of the storm (Rita) related to the people in this devastating event and what they are trying to deal with.
Pictures and video can only show part of the devastation that we saw...homes washed away, dead animals and fish, decaying vegetation, mud, etc., etc. Miles and miles....
On Tuesday, most of our time was spent in Vermillion Parish. Hwy 82 runs along a Chenier ridge and through some great duck country. The water along Hwy 82, north and south is still high. Much of the vegetation is dead or dying. Effects of high water for this extended period will have significant effect on this marsh (hundreds of square miles). I am sure some areas will benefit and some will suffer and some areas will recover faster than others. Very difficult to tell at this time on specific areas. Water quality in much of this area is bad to worse. Not sure what effect water quality will have on recovery...if any???
On Wednesday, Clay and I spent the day near Gueydan. Clay took video of about 30 Mottled ducks at the NRCS WRP prairie restoration site.
Just west of Gueydan, we found several thousand Bluewinged Teal and a few Pintail in a fallow/idle field. Every duck we saw in two days was in flooded idle fields. Lots of water in the rice country...lots of unharvested second crop...Ag. dept. predict 95% of the ratoon crop was lost. Clay got some video of teal, mottled ducks, shorebirds, etc.
Read the rest on continuation page below:
South of Gueydan is the White Lake Property. Water levels are high and still over some roads. Apparently high tides are not allowing this water to go down faster and water quality is deteriorating, but again this high water will have significant impact on the area. Lots of pump-off fields in this area and it will take time for these areas to recover. Some pump-off areas on White lake are full. This was some of the best waterfowl habitat on the White Lake property. Not sure how many acres of pump-off exist, but many pumps, equipment went under.
On a good note...rice country looks best it has in the prior two years. Hopefully it will not be disced under. GCJV plans estimate 50% of foraging needs of dabbling ducks (90% for geese) occurs in the rice prairies during normal years. I think it is safe to say it will be higher this year. This identifies the importance of rice to ducks in SW LA. Perhaps even more important is the benefit of idle fields...good stuff!
This is a follow-up on the last two days -
First thanks to NHQ seizing the opportunity to tell the La Coastal Story and Mr Oran Richard for use of his helicopters. I plan to send an e-mail to Mr Oran thanking him.
Tues. Bret and I flew over SE La starting in Houma. We flew to the Davis Pond Diversion structure just SW of New Orleans and saw pretty decent marsh and aquatics and nice looking duck habitat. The purpose of this site was to show the restoration practice that is need to offset the impacts of saltwater from the south. From there we went to the MS River and saw the eastern side of the River near the Caernarvon Diversion structure. The marsh was brown and the water was high probably increased from a strong east wind. The good thing about this area is it will recover as a result of the diversion structure.
From there we went south and there was plenty of structural damage including homes and boats. The intention of going down the River was to show the open water on each side, the levees, and muddy River. This combined with the diversion structure should be a good case of how to fix some of the issues in the SE.
We went over some barrier islands near Grand Isle which will give the needed footage of barrier islands if needed for "other birds" and or fishing interests.
We went back to Houma for fuel and went over Cocodrie and saw numerous helicopters patching levees with sandbags.
After refueling we went to the Atchafalaya River to show an active delta which could be used to show how things used to be without (kind of) levees. This area was brown from Rita but we saw a few teal. Just north of the mouth of the river the vegetation was green and looked great for ducks. We also flew over Avoca Island which is a proposed NAWCA project.
Bob and Clay went to Pecan Island and Bob will give a report on those activities.
Wednesday we flew out of Scott to see SW La. From Scott we flew over the heart of the ag (rice) belt and saw very good looking duck habitat especially if they keep the water on that land. Lots of idle fields and first and second crop with water on it. We flew over Lacassine and it looked marginal. South of the GIWW was not very pretty but could be good as it recovers. Lots of brown marsh, rack, and open "pintail style" water.
We flew over Cameron Prairie NWR and the DU moist soil areas that looked like they had water with a high sulfur content showing that white glaze. We flew over the Cameron Creole Watershed and the DU terraces on Sweetlake and Miami and they looked ok but still had high water. The entire Mermentau Basin and the GIWW had very high water levels.
We flew over the northern most structure on the CC Watershed and it had a blow out to the south of the structure. The CC Watershed had numerous muskrat and nutria eatouts which may have compounded the problem and definitely made it look like there was more open water out there than normal. As we went south the actual Watershed levee was completely blown out.
This will be a big priority to get rebuilt especially since this area was recovering from the impacts resulting from the Calcasieu Ship Channel. We flew the Ship Channel and Cameron. We flew Oyster Bayou, a proposed NAWCA project. There was no shortage of damage out there and we saw a National Guard mobilization center and signs of rebuilding like power crews. We went over Grand Chenier and Rockefeller and lots of water that appeared trapped.
We went over the terraces on Vermilion Corp south of Pecan Island and they looked ok but still high water and the CWPPRA terraces looked real good. We will need to look at elevation issues as our terracing program continues. We went over the Freshwater Bayou locks and Paul Rainey Wildlife Refuge which looked pretty good and then headed back home.
In SE I think we had enough video to show what sediment laden freshwater starved marsh looks like and the restoration features that are needed and examples of what is already in place. We also have video of the water that is wasted down the channeled MS River. We also have video of and active delta. This package can give viewers the chance to see that all is not lost in regards to the marsh in spite of what the structural damage looks like.
In SW La we have video that will tie the rice/idle fields to the marsh and that relationship. We also have restoration features that are needed (structures and levees) to offset the impacts of the channels (Calcasieu Ship Channel) on the marsh.
Many restoration features weathered the storm in pretty good shape and some things need to be looked at again or in further detail. The human element is very sad but some video will show that people are tough and are already working towards moving on and dealing with it.