Ducks Unlimited staff guided two Environmental Protection Agency employees and a House Appropriations Committee staff member on a tour of Louisiana
coastal wetlands on Jan. 13.
During the tour, the group discussed the challenges to conserving and protecting wetland habitat
along Louisiana's Gulf Coast, including those that resulted from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
and the long-term issues DU and others are trying to tackle.
The EPA is one of five federal agencies that make up the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act task force, responsible for overseeing coastal restoration efforts through the CWPPRA program. The EPA also administers Clean Water Act
319 non-point source pollution grants that provide important funding for projects associated with agriculture.
The tour was designed to facilitate an understanding of coastal Louisiana's national importance and to provide the appropriations committee a closer look at the challenges facing coastal restoration and protection.
DU Manager of Conservation Programs Bob Dew, Director of Conservation Programs Jerry Holden and Regional Biologist Alicia Wiseman took Lek Kadeli and Ed Walsh of the EPA and Jason Gray of the House Appropriations Committee staff to the Wax Lake Delta, one of the largest and fastest-growing deltas in North America. "The Wax Lake Delta is a tremendous example of what freshwater and sediment can do to sustain coastal Louisiana," Dew said.
Following their delta visit, the group traveled to the rice-growing coastal prairie region
of southwest Louisiana. Rice agriculture addresses approximately 40 percent of the foraging demand of waterfowl in the Chenier Plain. Ducks Unlimited has a long-standing relationship with rice growers, which was further strengthened by the program that helped producers flood harvested fields for waterfowl after the 2010 oil spill.
"Ducks Unlimited realizes the importance of having rice agriculture on the landscape, and we are doing everything we can to help these farmers stay in business," Dew said. "Rice growers have long been important conservationists, particularly in Louisiana."