LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Across the state of Louisiana are many beautiful man-made sites. However, our state’s natural vegetation is dying.
Filled with varieties of wildflowers and home to thousands of species of wildlife, the Cajun Prairies were here long before us.
"Coastal prairie is a grassland lacking trees and shrubs that lies just inland from out coastal marshes," Department of Wildlife and Fisheries botanist Brian Early said.
What once stretched over two million acres is now approximately 6,000 acres. When technology began to advance, the prairies began to disappear.
“The prairie soil was able to be plowed. It changes into rice, sugarcane, soy bean, and other crops that we see today,” Early said. “That’s the primary cause of coastal prairie loss.”
That’s why Entergy teamed up with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to help protect a stretch of that land in Sulphur.
"So, Entergy is an environmentally conscious company and is doing our part to help protect these lands and keep these lands around for generations to enjoy the beauty of this property," Entergy customer service representative Calvin Thibodeaux said.
The two companies perform routine maintenance on the prairies year-round.
“One of the ways is through proper vegetation management, and also selective herbicide,” Thibodeaux said. “By doing that, we can go in and select trees that aren’t native to this prairie land and spot treat it and remove the tree.”
Doing that helps keep the land healthy, allowing the land to grow.
“Several grasses, several different plants, a variety of flowers;” Thibodeaux said. “If you look at the colors of the flowers, beautiful vegetation—it was natural.”
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says less than one percent of natural Louisiana vegetation remains; calling it the ‘most endangered ecosystem in Louisiana.’ However, Early hopes there’s more to be found.
"There's much more land out there to be discovered,” Early said. “The amount of land that’s been surveyed for prairies is not complete."
To help preserve natural habitats in your area, visit the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries website.
For additional information, check out the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries pamphlet.