Beauty And The Beast

On June 9th, I had the pleasure of leading another field monitoring trip by boat into Barataria Bay. This trip had been scheduled in advance by GRN staff to provide an opportunity for some of our major donors to accompany me on an excursion to gain some first-hand experience and insight into our field monitoring program and into, well, the reality as it stands in our fragile wetlands. Luckily for all those involved this trip went forward, despite a gloomy forecast, torrential rains, and lighting. We left New Orleans by van at 6:30 in the morning and travelled to Delta Marina in Empire, Louisiana where we were scheduled to embark on our voyage. At that point the weather was too dangerous for boating so we decided to try and wait out the storm system by converging in Buras Louisiana at Cajun Fishing Adventures lodge. The lodge was a comfortable respite from the bad weather and we got to get to spend some quality time and conversations discussing some of the important issues we are facing hear in the Gulf. After having in my own head called off the trip because of the weather several times, after talking it over with Ryan Lambert, owner of the business, I decided we could make a go at it. I took a show of hands to see how many folks were not afraid to get a little wet, and it was unanimous. As such, we took the chance and made our way to the boats. Miraculously, not one drop of rain hit us the entire time we were out on the water!Anyway, it was great to get to know some of our supporters and to show them some of the beauty and the beast of south Louisiana. I overheard comments on our boat about how beautiful and picturesque the grasses looked and the horizon and the wildflowers and the water, etc. It was refreshing to hear these comments as I have become, I suppose, so jaded since 2010 when I first started leading these trips. I used to start off all of my trips by taking the time to show people and talk to them about the spectacular nature and beauty that makes up the heart of the bays and estuaries. Now, I have my set agenda for folks to try and squeeze in as many issues as possible: abandoned oil and gas infrastructure; open water that used to be land; dying mangrove trees; vanishing pelican rookeries; oil and gas canals; salt water intrusion; waste pits; active oil and gas infrastructure; spoil banks; marsh degradation; closed oyster leases; hurricane destroyed camps; sick dolphins; dead birds; and, lots of oil. So, it was a nice reminder to me to remember not to focus so squarely on the beast all of the time. I’ll work on that.Because of the weather delays, we were unable to meet my entire “beast” of an agenda. You can take a look at the slideshow for some of what we saw. Our guests were particularly disturbed by the oil I pulled out of the marsh in northern Barataria which I placed in jars and passed around for them to smell. If anyone would like a jar of this crap, feel free to stop by my office one day. I have plenty. Stay tuned as I will be making another trip this week out of Venice, Louisiana. I will try to remember to smell the flowers, literally. In the meantime, enjoy the photos below: Jonathan Henderson is the Coastal Resiliency Organizer for GRN.

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