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.