HACKBERRY, LA (KPLC) - Volunteers planted marsh grass near Hackberry this morning in an effort to help restore America's wetlands. They came to Black Lake where they are planting marsh grass plugs. The grass will help sustain the levee here to prevent coastal erosion and create new marsh.
It's a muddy job but those here feel a strong sense of purpose and commitment when it comes to restoring the wetlands. Said volunteer Michael Normand, " I have a lot of fun doing the work in the first place. This is heaven for me just being able to be outdoors and to basically do swamp gardening for the first half of the day and I really believe in it too."
Just a few minutes away by boat, there's new marsh where just six months ago they placed spoil from dredging the ship. There are now thousands of ducks that where you wouldn't have seen any before. Hilary Collis with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana says a lot is at stake. "We've lost an area roughly the size of Delaware since the 1930's so just our basic land and where we live, where we recreate. And that also trickles down into our economy. We are the nation's number one producer of shrimp and shellfish. We have a huge oil and gas industry. So there's just our basic infrastructure and what makes Louisiana unique and is based a lot upon the southern coastline and it's washing away."
The planting comes on the eve of a major leadership forum getting called envisioning the future of America's Energy Coast. Rannah Gray is with America's Wetland Foundation. "If we do nothing in the next twenty years we'll lose $350 billion in assets. It's a tremendous loss not just to the local people here but to the state and to the nation."
The forum is an initiative aimed sustaining the environmental and economic assets of the Gulf Coast.
Forums will be held all along the Gulf Coast and they kick off here in Lake Charles. The meetings Tuesday and Wednesday are by invitation only but they will be streamed live on the Internet...for links click here. The public will be able to comment on the future report that comes out of the forums.