LOUISIANA – Did you know that about 40% of the coastal wetlands in the lower 48 states are found in Louisiana? As we celebrate American Wetlands Month during May, it’s a time for environmental advocates to celebrate the vital importance of wetlands to the United States’ ecological, economic and social health. While Louisiana is widely known for the vibrancy of New Orleans, the surrounding wetlands are filled with beautiful wetlands open for the public to explore. See below for some examples:
- Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge – Located in New Orleans East, Bayou Sauvage is the second largest national wildlife refuge located in an urban area in the United States and one of the last remaining marsh areas adjacent to the south shores of lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne. The Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge is one of the many parks you can visit that will be impacted by a coastal restoration project in our area. A current coastal restoration project working to protect this area is the New Orleans East Landbridge, which would protect the 23,0000-acre refuge.
- Maurepas Swamp — Located approximately 25 miles west of New Orleans, Maurepas Swamp is one of the largest forested wetlands in the country. This is a great destination for fishing, hunting and birding. There is also a ½ mile walkway to visit the wetlands and visitors can also
Levee construction along the Mississippi River has isolated the swamp area from spring floods that provide essential freshwater, nutrients sediment it needs to thrive for almost 200 years. This, coupled with rising salinity throughout the Pontchartrain Basin has left the swamp to decline as trees die and young trees unable to grow to replace them. With this, the River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp project will benefit the swamp by reconnecting the Mississippi River to the swamp, as well as help decrease salinity levels throughout the Western Pontchartrain Basin.
These millions of acres of wetlands were built over thousands of years by Mississippi River floodwaters that deposited sediment at the river’s delta. Wetlands are essential natural defenses that reduce wave/wind impact, protect levees and reduce storm surge. In addition, they also reduce flood risks. Now more than ever, awareness and appreciation of these areas is critical, especially after previous hurricane seasons.
In honor of this month of awareness, experts from Restore The Mississippi River Delta — a coalition of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Pontchartrain Conservancy located in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C — are available for an interview to discuss wetlands.