Teens planting marsh grass to save wetlands

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

CAMERON PARISH, LA (KPLC) - As the oil spill catastrophe looms in the Gulf of Mexico, the fight to save the wetlands continues in Cameron Parish as it has for decades. And the sight of  teens doing their part to restore and preserve coastal Louisiana is for some a sign of hope.

They are on a three day camp called Marsh Maneuvers, sponsored by LSU Extension Service. Biologist Alton Puckett says it was a productive day: "Today we put in about 525 plugs of the Bitter Panicum and we had done I think 700 or so back in March 30th and as you look up and down the beach you can see where they've taken root since then."

You might wonder what good the grass does.  It works to trap sand and build up sand dunes to protect against coastal erosion and hurricanes.  Thirteen year old Madison Bonsall of Cameron Parish is one of the teens who spent the morning planting marsh grass.  "Once this grass takes over the sand will get caught and it will build up this big dune like we have back here. This will stop the ocean action so basically we're building a levee and it's a natural levee because the wind builds it. I'm excited because that means our homes aren't going to get eaten in fifty years , so there'll still be a Cameron Parish."

No one knows if and when oil will find its way to the beaches of Cameron parish. But the possibility only reinforces the dedication of these teens on marsh maneuvers.  Bonsall is upset about the disaster in the Gulf.  "It's actually very dangerous because when it gets in our oceans and our wetlands it kills our animals. Because they get all that goop on them and how would you like to be covered in oil and gas and all that. It's not every fun."

Still, whether it's hurricanes or oil spills residents of coastal Louisiana know dogged determination and persistence pay off. Teen Liegha Clark says, "It's very important because this is my home and this is where I'm going to live probably, the rest of my life."

Calcasieu Cameron Marsh Maneuvers is for teens who belong to 4-H and is sponsored by LSU Extension Service.

Copyright 2010 KPLC. All rights reserved.