Category Archives: Newsletters

Out of Chaos, Hope on the Horizon

It’s been a busy year in the realm of moving coastal restoration and protection
forward. More than two years after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon,
which led to the deaths of 11 workers and spewed nearly 5 million barrels of crude into our Gulf waters, Congress passed the RESTORE Act.  RESTORE stipulated that 80% of the Clean Water Act penalties to be levied against BP and other responsible parties will return to the impacted states for environmental and economic restoration.

Bayou Grace volunteers from Viterbo University of La Crosse, Wisconsin send a thank you to Senator Kohl for voting yes on RESTORE

Bayou Grace volunteers from Viterbo University of La Crosse, Wisconsin send a thank you to Senator Kohl for voting yes on RESTORE

This year, Louisiana also saw the beginning of construction of two Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Early Restoration projects. Under the Oil Pollution Act, NRDA is the process designed to assess damages to natural resources, assign responsibility for restoration to the parties responsible, and determine appropriate remedies to be fulfilled by the responsible parties. In April 2011, BP vowed to make a down payment of $1 billion
towards this process to be used for early restoration projects in the five impacted Gulf states.

In the wake of Katrina, the Louisiana Legislature passed Act 8 in 2006, which created the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and required it to develop a coastal master plan every five years.  sand fencingThe first master plan was approved in 2007.  The 2012 master plan, a much more specific roadmap for the coast, was unanimously approved by the legislature on May 22.

Bayou Grace was proud to connect local, regional and national constituents to all of these avenues for determining the future of restoration and protection of our coast.  n snyder dinner presoThrough engaging local residents with the CPRA and NRDA trustees at several community dinners, prompting citizens to encourage their representatives to vote yes on RESTORE, and providing numerous opportunities to learn about and act on critical issues facing our coast, Bayou Grace remains committed to providing hope and sustainability for our bayou communities.  Thank you for your continued support of this vital mission.

Where the Water Meets the Web

Social networking, smart phones, and wireless living are tools of technology helping to introduce an entire generation to land loss and our rapidly changing landscape.

Bayou Grace’s Building Community Resilience through Community Dinners Project is a commitment to residents to provide fellowship as well a connection to agencies, elected leaders and other advocates who are working to help restore the Louisiana coastline.  The March 17th community dinner in Montegut also helped to introduce a new online application that could help to increase the number of coastal advocates both locally and nation-wide. Find photos from the March 17th community dinner in Montegut here.

In collaboration with Bayou Grace, Jonathan Foret, Development Director of the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center (SLWDC), and Sandra Maina, SLWDC intern sponsored by UNO-CHART, presented the ‘Vanishing Points’ mobile phone app to an engaged community.

The goal for the ‘Vanishing Points’ mobile phone app is to mobilize people both locally and nationally in coastal restoration through education on this phenomenon and to bring national recognition and respect for the impacts of coastal land loss.   The app will show animations of historical land loss, current restoration projects and also ways get involved in coastal restoration efforts.  The ‘Vanishing Points’ app will also link to YouTube videos of local people describing impacts and changes from coastal land loss as well as to organizations currently working in protection efforts.

Enjoying home-cooked jambalaya, great community partnerships and friendships added the perfect seasoning to a conversation about the development of this app.  Sandra and Jonathan introduced the app to the audience and then residents were broken up into focus groups to discuss various topics.   Some residents helped provide information to be used on the app including the location of key points of historical and cultural interest in each of the 5 bayou communities.   Some of the suggestions were Bisland Cemetary, Isle De Jean Charles road, the Dulac Community Center, Mount Calvary Church and nearly twenty other significant locations.  Residents were eager to highlight so many valuable landmarks in our communities, solidifying their strong concern for all that is at stake through continuous land loss and lack of coastal restoration and protection.

Jonathan and Sandra hope that the ‘Vanishing Points’ app is frequently visited and is a utilized tool and not just a one stop shop.  Residents agreed that in order to accomplish this, the app must be interactive and offer pertinent information about our communities.  App users could help create and build the app by submitting their own photos.  Small businesses could advertise on the app and offer users coupons to their businesses via the app.  Important information such as weather forecasts, hurricane and severe storm conditions, elevations and moon cycles would also be features that would make the app interactive, educational and useful and would keep users coming back.

The audience at this dinner ranged from young adults to senior citizens and while they had varying skills, interest and exposure to technology, overall everyone agreed that the ‘Vanishing Points’ app would be a wonderful tool.  Residents who are not accustomed to using this type of technology also expressed interest in training and using a web-based version of the app.  The possibilities for this app are endless and exciting. If you would like to help build this app by submitting your older pictures, your stories or ideas, please contact Jonathan Foret at the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center to get involved!  Email Jonathan at jforet@slwdc.org.

Through Bayou Grace’s Building Community Resilience Through Community Dinners Project, Bayou Grace has hosted 21 community dinners since the BP Oil Spill, giving people the opportunity to come together for fellowship, important information, and a great meal cooked by local community cooks.  Bayou Grace is pleased to be able to continue the community dinners project with support from the Coastal Communities Fund at the Greater New Orleans Foundation, which began funding the dinners in early 2012, and from generous donors from around the nation. Dulac will be the site of the next Bayou Grace community dinner on September 19.  Susan Bergeron, the Outreach Coordinator for Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) will be presenting at this upcoming dinner. If you would like to help ensure that these dinners continue, contact the Bayou Grace office at 985-594-5350 to get involved or to make a donation.

Wednesday Why: For Beauty and Beasts of the Southern Wild

Since the 1930s, at least 1900 square miles of our beautiful coastal home has been lost to the sea. What took nature 7000 years to build, man has nearly destroyed in less than one hundred. Let’s work together to turn the tide again and create a healthy, sustainable, and beautiful Gulf Coast for all Americans.

Interested in participating in the photo project?   Answer the question, “Why Should We Save Coastal Louisiana?” in any way you feel!  Send your submission to photoproject@bayougrace.org and you may be featured in an upcoming “Wednesday Why”.  Together we can tell the nation why we must save coastal Louisiana.

Beasts of the Southern Wild at a theater near us!

We’re thrilled to announce that the beautiful film Beasts of the Southern Wild will be playing in Houma beginning this weekend.  Showtimes and ticket information for the movie can be found here.  Filmed in the 5 bayous, this film is a must see for anyone and everyone who loves coastal Louisiana.  There will also be a special question and answer session with some of the cast and crew after the evening Sunday showings on Sunday, July 29 after 5:10 and 7:45 PM showings at the AMC Palace Theater in Houma.

Beasts of the Southern Wild was filmed right here in Terrebonne Parish.  The lead actress is homegrown Quvenzhane Wallis (who was 6 at the time of filming) who was called “a force of nature” by Roger Ebert.  It is one of the best reviewed movies of the year and has already won top prizes at the Sundance Film Festival and at Cannes.

Local Summer Program Focuses on Youth Resilience

Bayou Grace has partnered with the Calcutta Project to support local youth participating in the Calcutta Project Tutoring and Mentoring Program.  This summer, the Calcutta Project held 20 sessions of activities that included art camps, guitar lessons, various sports, and hands on activities focused on increasing skills that are critical to academic and personal success.  Fifty-six local youth benefitted from the program this summer.

With the start of the school year drawing near, the Calcutta Project is ready to resume after school tutoring.  This program is open to all local youth and there is no charge to participate.  Bayou Grace is proud to support the Calcutta Project through a grant from the Coastal Communities Fund at the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Bayou Grace is Cooking Up Something Good

About once a month, in one of Terrebonne Parish’s 5 bayou communities, you can expect to hear children playing, neighbors catching up, and everyone enjoying a home cooked meal while talking with guest speakers about Terrebonne Parish’s most critical issue: coastal land loss and the need for extensive coastal restoration and protection. This is the goal of the Building Community Resilience through Community Dinners Initiative.

May 16, 2012 community dinner in Dulac

On May 16, the Community Dinner at the Dulac Community Center was a success with nearly 110 people in attendance. Christopher Pulaski from the Terrebonne Parish Planning and Zoning Department was present not only to update the community on relevant issues but also to answer questions from local community members. Everyone was very responsive to Mr. Pulaksi’s presentation and felt welcomed to ask important questions they’ve had for some time. Some local residents praised the event by saying, “It was very helpful and a good time. I hope they don’t stop this event.” Bayou Grace was also fortunate enough so share this event with AmeriCorps student volunteers from Lafayette who shared the same thoughts as local members. One student commented, “As a visitor I was pleased with the courtesy of the members of this community. Thank you for having us as your visitors.”

A total of twenty one community dinners have been organized since 2010.   Over one thousand community members have had dinner and discussions with local, state and federal leaders and representatives who can impact decisions about coastal restoration and protection.   Leaders and representatives include State Senator Norby Chabert , TPCG Coastal Director Nicholas Matherne, Natalie Snider with Governor’s Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, Reggie Dupre, Director of Terrebonne Parish Levee & Conservation District, Drue Banta with the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities and Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet.

We hope to continue the Building Community Resilience through Community Dinners initiative for many years to come and to bring decision makers to the people and rural communities who experience coastal land loss and the great need for coastal restoration and protection on a daily basis. Through this initiative, residents will get the vital information they need about coastal land loss and restoration and protection while also raising their own concerns and questions to those who lead and represent us.  All this, in our own beautiful rural communities!

In 2012 Bayou Grace received funding from the Coastal Communities Fund at the Greater New Orleans Foundation to continue this initiative. If you would like to support our 2013 efforts, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Bayou Grace.  Donations can be made securely through our website or mailed to Bayou Grace, P.O. Box 238, Chauvin, LA 70344.  Or, drop by our office located at 5228 Hwy 56 in Chauvin.

Bridging the communications between community leaders and local people is an important goal of the Community Dinner program, truly building resiliency. Bayou Grace will continue to hold these events throughout this year, and hopefully beyond.

ONE YEAR AFTER THE BP OIL SPILL

-Life in New Orleans and Coastal Louisiana

San Francisco, CA –  Bayou Grace will be among key Louisiana residents including fishermen, businesspeople and tribal leaders affected by the BP oil spill who will offer their insights on the recovery and the current conditions in the Gulf and coastal communities of Louisiana at a special cocktail presentation organized by Friends of New Orleans, on Wednesday, October 26, 2011, at the Kapor Capital offices, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM.  Friends of New Orleans is organizing this event to give a voice to those who have been most affected by the BP oil spill, and to raise awareness of the amount of work and resources that are still required to restore the region.  Speakers will discuss the current state of the Gulf and  Louisiana’s coastal communities 18 months after the BP Oil Spill; the impact the spill has had, and continues to have on Louisiana fishermen, and businesses that serve or are dependent on the State’s seafood industry; the effect on indigenous coastline cultures; financial reimbursements made by BP to date; the mental and physical health problems faced by those communities directly affected by the spill; and the coastal and wetlands restoration work that has been done and still lays ahead.  To rsvp or for more information on the featured speakers and the cocktail, please contact Denise M. Byrne, FONO Executive Director and Founding Board Member, by email  prdenise@aol.com or cell phone (703-371-7455).

Featured Louisiana Coastal Leaders:

Lance Nacio – Owner of Anna Marie Seafood and a principal leader in the White Boot Brigade, a Louisiana fishermen advocacy organization.

Capt. Michael Frenette - Professional Angler/ESPN contributor, Charter Boat/Tour Co. and Fishing Lodge Owner in Venice La. Marina, Director of Louisiana Charter Board Association   

Diem NguyenExecutive Director of the Mary Queen of Vietnam CDC which is working with the Vietnamese fishing community

Brenda Dardar-Robichaux – Woman leader and former Principal Chief of the Houma Nation (17,000 strong in Louisiana)

Kirk Cheramie – Manager of the Houma Nation radio station (KUHN 89.3 FM)

Rebecca Templeton and Diane Huhn –  Representing Bayou Grace, a non-profit agency serving the 5 bayou communities of lower Terrebonne Parish

Sharon and David Gauthe - Co-Founders of Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO) which operates in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes

LaTosha Brown - Former Exec. Director of the Gulf Coast Fund and Director at Ibis Partners

Matt Petersen  – President and CEO of Global Green USA, a national environmental advocacy organization that has been behind the “greening” of New Orleans

Bios and photos of all of these leaders can be found on the Friends of New Orleans website at www.friendsofneworleans.org.

Click here for a link to a recent article about the event in The Daily Comet.

                                                                                  

Because it’s the Right Thing to Do

Join us in urging Congress to direct 80% of the Clean Water Act penalties to those areas impacted by the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, not to unrelated federal spending.

Bayou Grace and other local organizations advocate for legislation that would ensure that fines from last year’s oil disaster are used for what is fair and just—to fix the areas that were damaged. Your help is needed. Call your Congressional Representative today at 202-224-3121. Urge them to move quickly to pass a House companion bill that mirrors the Senate RESTORE Act (S. 1400). 

On September 21, The RESTORE Act, legislation that would direct fines incurred in the BP oil spill back to the affected area for coastal restoration, passed the Environment and Public Works Committee and can now move to the full Senate for a vote. We will keep you updated on when that vote is scheduled.  We are now urging the House of Representatives  to move quickly to pass similar legislation.

Clean Water Act penalties from the BP oil spill will not necessarily be used to address damage done to impacted areas in the Gulf. Under current law, BP and other responsible parties will pay a Clean Water Act penalty for each barrel of oil spilled into the Gulf. Without action from Congress, those penalties could go to unrelated federal spending, instead of repairing the area damaged by the spill.

Last year’s oil spill was a tremendous blow to our area. The people of the 5 bayous are facing this disaster as well as coastal Louisiana’s most critical issue: coastal erosion and the need for restoration and protection. Please join us in urging Congress to quickly pass legislation that will ensure that 80 percent of the penalties paid under the Clean Water Act by the parties responsible for last year’s Gulf oil disaster are used to help restore the region’s communities, ecosystems and economies.

For more information about the RESTORE Act, click here

Directing fines from the BP oil spill back to the affected area for coastal restoration is the right thing to do.