A must watch, must act video from Vanishing Paradise about the daily erosion of Louisiana’s fertile delta and marshes. So much has been lost already, but it is fixable. We just have to get out of the way of Nature and let the mighty Mississippi River do what it has done for eons.
Louisiana loses a football field worth of land to the sea every 90 minutes.
Editor’s Note: Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote called Louisiana or Bust – A Cajun Fishing Adventure.
“This is where I have to give you some backstory into the perils facing the Louisiana marsh. Capt. Ryan has been personally active in fighting to save the marsh, but it has been an uphill battle against money and politics and the negative effect of man’s redirection of the Mississippi River. You see the freshwater that flows down the Mississippi River carries with it a multitude of sediments it has carved from the heartland of our country. Historically, this freshwater spread out and flowed through the marsh and into the Gulf of Mexico in a wide fan pattern. The water slowed down and dropped the sediment it was carrying, thus creating a delta that supports incredible life.
It’s just the kind of life that fishermen and sportsmen thrive on too. The great expanses of roseau cane and hundreds of other freshwater plants that flourish in the marsh are the key to the delta’s great diversity. It not only filters the water, but also offers food and protection to the young aquatic creatures and fish that grow up in the backwaters of the marsh.
Now enters man, who years ago built dikes and levees to funnel the great Mississippi into navigable channels for shipping and commerce. They cut off the traditional sheet flow of freshwater and sediment to the marsh and as a result, Louisiana is losing one football field of land per hour to erosion. The saltwater comes in and kills the freshwater plants who then release their hold on the sediment which is then carried away by the eroding tides.
“Land and marsh where people lived are all gone and what remains is a barren flat, four feet underwater”, said Capt. Ryan.
“I’ve taken old timers fishing who spent their whole lives on these waters and they are totally lost, because the landmarks and homesteads they knew are all gone. I take congressmen, legislators and all types of people out here to see it first hand, but until the public begins to understand and put pressure on them, the money and the politics continue to destroy our precious resource. Fishermen, hunters and all lovers of the outdoors need to learn about what is happening and help do something before it’s all gone.” “There is a bright side”, continued Capt. Ryan. “I have proven that we can rebuild land and marsh by diverting portions of the river back through the levee. I have personally paid to do a scaled project that created hundreds of acres of new land.
Capt. Ryan’s passion for this marsh is contagious, but his message is muffled by the area’s remoteness and momentum is stifled by various commercial interests who like the status quo because they stand to make more money in the event of another spill. It is a convoluted story, but I urge all fishermen to lend an ear to Ryan’s cause because it is your cause too if you like to fish and hunt. Capt. Ryan summed it up, “This is one of the best places in the world to fish, right here in our backyard and it is washing away one football field at a time; one every hour.
Mother Nature has done some of her own too.
The lush marsh we are fishing right now was all barren saltwater flats until the freshwater broke through the levee and has been flowing since last year. All of this land and plant life is brand new. We just have to let nature work its magic. I’m working as hard as I can to reverse this damage, but I need more help. I need people to want it for themselves and future generations. I want to take my grand-kids out here to see this clean water, catch these fish, watch the great flocks of ducks take to the air. It truly is a “sportsman’s paradise” but it is vanishing before our eyes and out from under our feet.”
Learn more about our Vanishing Paradise and how you can support its restoration. It is rare that a fix is so doable, but we have to push to make it happen. Please help.