• The Mississippi: A Visual Biography by Quinta Scott

    "Great book and great blog - thanks for the first book I have seen that addresses the contemporary river, headwaters to gulf." Dan McGuiness, Audubon, St. Paul, Minnesota

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Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana

165BayouJeanCharles

Bayou Jean Charles runs through Isle de Jean Charles

Isle de Jean Charles: Bayou St. Jean Charles

Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

Dangling out at the end of a thread in the Point aux Chenes Wildlife Management Area is the narrow ridge created by Bayou St. Jean Charles. The string, the island road actually, connects the community of Isle St. Jean Charles to solid ground at Point aux Chenes, where a new, gated community was being built in the fall of 2006. A fourteen-foot hurricane levee will protect the new houses in the gated subdivision. No such levee will protect the small wooden houses that line Bayou Jean Charles, which bisects its narrow ridge. Fiddler crabs drag their single claws along the muddy banks of the stream. Rickety wooden walks connect the houses on the far side of the bayou to the single road that runs the length of the island.

Isle St. Jean Charles is the home of a group of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaws. Before the road, a dirt track built through the marshes in 1953, islanders came and went by boat and made their livings from the marshes–fishing, shrimping, crabbing, and trapping. In 1960s the road was upgraded with crushed clamshells, with black top in the 1970s, and raised and fortified with granite boulders, against which waves can crash, in the 1990s. It promptly sank six inches. High tide can cover it and swamp the wetlands to the north. Hurricanes can flood it. Rita poured four feet of water over it. The history of the road is the history of the marshes on either side of it. They, too, have sunk. By the end of the twentieth century where residents of the island once grazed their cattle and grew their corn, potatoes, beans, okra, and melons had turned to a salt marsh or open water.

Until the early 1900s islanders built their houses of “bousillage,” a mixture of clay and mud and roofed them with domes woven from the palmetto that thrived under the live oaks woods that once shaded their houses and anchored their ridge for a quarter mile back. Now, live oaks are dead; their skeletons rake the sky.

The residents of Isle St. Jean Charles measure their years by what hurricane hit when: Hilda in 1964 flooded the island with thirty-six inches, Betsy in 1965 tore off roofs and siding, Carmen in 1974–thirty-eight inches of water, Juan in 1984–eighteen inches, Danny in 1985–more water, Andrew in 1992–eighteen inches, Lili in 2002 battered houses, Katrina in 2005 blew off roofs, Rita in 2005 blew in four feet of water. FEMA never showed, nor did the American Red Cross. As more and more families left, the community, like the marshes, fragmented. Half the 240 people living on the island in 1997 were gone by 2006.[i]

Isle de Jean Charles is being lost to the destruction of the Louisiana Deltaic Marshes by careless oil and gas drilling. And it continues. It is also being lost to rising sea levels.

For more read the following article in Daily Kos.

[i]             Quaid, John, “Written Off: The Gulf is slowly swallowing Isle de Jean Charles and other south Louisiana towns,” Special Edition: Washing Away, 1997, New Orleans Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf?/washingaway/writtenoff_4.html; Norrell, Brenda, “Living in the aftermoth of two Killer storms,” Indian Country Today, October 2, 2006, http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096413755.

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The Flood of 2011 and the Atchafalaya Delta

“Artificial levees, extending clear to the Gulf of Mexico, may have made human habitation of the delta south of Cape Girardeau possible, but prevented the Mississippi from refreshing its marshes with its sediment when it did flood. Revetments built of concrete mats may have stabilized the navigation channel, but reduced erosion of the banks, a source of sediment in the marshes. James Eads’ jetties at the mouth of the river may have allowed the river to cut a thirty-foot navigation channel through the sandbar blocking the South Pass of the modern delta, but delivered sediment carried by the river to very deep water at the continental shelf, where it washed away, never to be used for marsh building. Closure of the old distributaries of the river may have prevented flooding in the bayou country of Louisiana, but cut the flow of Mississippi sediment to the coastal marshes. Channel dams may have made navigation on the Upper Mississippi profitable, but they retained its sediment north of Alton, Illinois. Dams on the Missouri, from which the Mississippi drew sixty percent of its sediment, did the same. In short at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the coastal marshes south of New Orleans received eighty percent less sediment than they had at the beginning of the twentieth and eroded away.”

I haven’t counted the number of posts I have begun with this quote from The Mississippiand I am doing so again.

Morganza Floodway Structure

Twice, 1973 and 2011, since it was constructed after the Flood of 1927, we have opened the Morganza Floodway Structure to release flood water from the Mississippi into the Atchafalaya River and Floodway. After the Flood of 1973, geologists noted that the Atchafalaya River was building land at its mouth, using all that mud funneled down the Mississippi from erosion from the Midwest and the South.

With this in mind geologists from the University of Pennsylvania–joined by others from the University of Mississippi, Louisiana State University, and the U.S. Geological Survey–began studying the sediment plumes that spewed out of the Mississippi, the Atchafalaya River and Wax Lake Outlet, and through the Bonnet Carre Spillway into Lake Pontchartrain during the Flood of 2011.

Sediment Plumes from the Atchafalaya, Mississippi, and Bonnet Carre

Atchafalaya Delta, 2009

The Atchafalaya slowly spread a wide plume of sediment in to Atchafalaya Bay, where it is building land. The Mississippi, which is too long and too flat and is hemmed between levees, is shooting its mud over the edge of the continental shelf, where it is useless for landbuilding.

Wax Lake Outlet Delta

Similarly, the Wax Lake Outlet, an artificial outlet from the Atchafalaya Basin, built to reduce flooding in the basin, is building its delta.

What is happening in Atchafalaya Bay is what happened naturally before we reengineered the Mississippi for flood control and navigation. Now that we have done it, we have to live with the consequences and find ways to restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands by mimicking the river’s ways. The Atchafalaya is an example. So is the Mardi Gras diversion at Bohemia, which opened up into Breton Sound this spring during Mardi Gras.

The Mississippi Ridge at Bohemia south of the end of the main line levee

The question about the Mardi Gras Diversion is whether we are going to keep it or dam it. It is an example of what is being done on a small scale and can be done on a large scale along the Mississippi south of New Orleans.

RESTORE ACT funds finally ready to flow to coastal restoration

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Image of Oil easing into Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area

On Monday, September 10 President Barack Obama signed the executive order that will get BP oil leak fines moving to Louisiana and other Gulf Coastal states damaged by the massive oil leak of two years ago.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, still in formation, will decide where the money is most needed  for coastal restoration.

In 2007 Congress passed the Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration Act, but never funded it. It was an attempt on the part of Louisiana to focus restoration efforts on the most critical areas. Congress has yet to fund the project, though President Obama as for $16 million in his 2012 budget request. Louisiana is finally moving ahead, using funds it as set aside as its sharing of financing the work.

Lake Hermitage in northern Bartaria Basin

Some of the work, in Lake Hermitage, will be done using BP oil money.

Mardi Gras Pass: Keep it or Dam It

Mississippi River Ridge at Bohemia

While folks partied in the streets of New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, the Mississippi River gave the State of Louisiana a gift, a freebie. The river broke through the low ridge at Bohemia, south of the end of the Main Line levee, and began pouring sediment into Breton Sound to the east. The river is doing for free what the state would have the Federal Government pay $50 billion over 50 years to rebuild barrier island and to divert the Mississippi to Breton Sound on the east and the Barataria Basin on the west. State engineers already had a plan on the books to create a similar diversion into Breton Sound a mere mile from the Bohemia siphon, where the breach occurred.

Bohemia Siphon along the Mississippi

The site of the breech was the old, inoperable siphon, designed to deliver fresh water from the river to the wetlands in the sound. The siphon opens onto a spillway, created in 1924 as a means of relieving flooding in New Orleans. However, this spillway is 45 miles south of New Orleans. After the Flood of 1927 the Bonne Carre Spillway and the Achafalaya and Morganza Spillways were design to siphon water from a flood Mississippi before it reached New Orleans.

Sites of Bohemia Siphon and the Oil Facility on the End of the Road on the Mississippi Ridge

Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given Houston-based Eland/Sundown Energy permission to seal the crevasse, dam it in order to rebuild the road to their work facility not more than two or three miles down the road, where it ends at a gate to its yard.

Right now the Mississippi is low, very low and the spillway is delivery fresh water and sediment at a much slower rate than the 50,000 cubic feet per second the state-designed spillway would flow. But water and sediment is flowing to Breton Sound. It is a gift from the Flood of 2011. The river will rise again, flood, and spill more water through the breach, enlarging it and sending more water and sediment to the Bohemia Wildlife Management Area and Breton Sound.

Breton Sound at the Bohemia State Wildlife Management Area just off Pointe a la Hache

In 2005 Katrina roared across the Mississippi south of the siphon, and tore north through Breton Sound and Lake Borgne tearing up the wetlands and busting through the levees that protected St. Bernard Parish, trashing the towns there. Then it tore across the wetlands that protects that lovely string of towns on the the State of  Mississippi coast–Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Gulf Port, and Biloxi–and destroyed them. Had those wetlands in Breton Sound been in tact, Katrina would not have been as devastating. Never mind what happened after it arrived in Lake Pontchartrain, washed into the canals that drain every drop of water that falls on New Orleans, and collapsed the levees that contained them, flooding the city.

  •  (quintascott.wordpress.com)

The Mardi Gras Diversion at Bohemia

The Mississippi Ridge at Bohemia south of the end of the main line levee

On February 28, New Orleans partied at Mardi Gras, the Mississippi broke through the Mississippi ridge and created a crevasse at the Bohemia Spillway, a couple of miles south of the end of the Main Line Levee, and began delivering precious fresh water and sediment to Breton Sound, which has experienced extreme losses of marshland.

It’s a gift and we can thank the Flood of 2011 for it. All that stood in the way of the crevasse was a slightly elevated gravel road, which the flood washed away last summer. Below are two captions that I cut from The Mississippi: A Visual Biography.

As you will see below, the crevasse represents a potential savings of $6.4 million, if the Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana DNR were to do the work. What the river did by itself may need tidying up, but that work can be done by the Corps and the DNR.

 

Breton Sound at the Bohemia State Wildlife Management Area just off Pointe a la Hache

Mississippi River Ridge: Pointe a la Hache Relief Outlet

Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana

“It is remarkable, that the banks of the river are much more elevated than the circumjacent country. This is occasioned by a more copious deposition along the margins, than at a distance from them. These are thickly covered with grass, and a vast variety of ligneous plants, which serve to filtrate the waters in their progress to the low grounds and swamps, and to retain the greatest proportion of the alluvious substances. Hence the lands along the banks to a certain depth, generally from four hundred to seven hundred yards are excellent for tillage; while the whole surface in the rear of them, extending to the sea, is alternately covered by lakes and impassable swamps.”–Major Amos Stoddard, 1812[i]

The 2004 Louisiana Coastal Area proposal emphasized diverting freshwater and sediments into Breton Sound. So did Louisiana’s post-Katrina 2007 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. So did the Corps of Engineers’ post-Katrina proposal. So did numerous unofficial proposals. At the two-year anniversary of the storm, other diversions south of the Caernarvon structure, actual and planned, directed freshwater into Breton sound.

The White’s Ditch siphon, not far from Caernarvon, diverted small amounts of freshwater into northern Breton Sound. The mainline levee ended at Bohemia, where the river was also free to sluice down the Bohemia spillway, but only when it ran high. Built in 1926, the spillway was non-operational by 2005. The Pointe a la Hache relief outlet ran from Bohemia south to the Ostrica Lock. Here, only the natural levee and a gravel road lay between the Mississippi and the marshes in southern Breton Sound. A young natural levee forest had taken root on the ridge. A flooded Mississippi could spill over the levee and wash into the adjacent marshes, or maybe it couldn’t. The gravel road may have impeded overbank flooding. Further south, near Point Pleasant, the Bohemia diversion structure and spillway could have diverted water into Breton Sound through Bayou Lamoque the same rate as Caernarvon, was inoperable, but was included in Louisiana’s 2007 plan for a sustainable coast. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, how much fresh water the overbank flooding introduced into southern Breton Sound had not been measured, nor had any changes in water quality caused by the flooding.

In 2001 the Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources began design work on a diversion at Fort St. Philip, on the east bank opposite Fort Jackson. The agencies planned to divert water from the river at the rate of 2,500 to 5,000 cubic feet per second into 2,252 acres of deteriorating wetlands and open water near the site of the old fort. The existing marshes graded from fresh at the toe of the ridge to saline. The site, short on development and infrastructure, presented a rare opportunity to rebuild marshes in shallow estuarine waters.

Engineers would cut a series of gaps in the bank of the river, armor them, creating channels that would carry river water and sediment to open water adjacent to the natural ridge of the river. Farther downstream they would create a diversion outfall channel, which would connect to Fort Bayou. Holes punched in the outfall channel would allow water and sediment to leak into the shallows between the bank and the bayou. The bayou would carry water and sediment to the east beyond the reach of the channel. The Corps and the DNR expected to create and 624 acres of marsh over the life of the project, recreate the progression of wetlands from natural levee to emergent marsh to mudflats, and reduce the loss of marsh in the rest of the site. The expected cost was $6.4 million. A final note: The Corps and the DNR suspected that the introduction of freshwater into marshes that were largely saline would disrupt existing oyster leases. And, the siltation the engineers hoped for might plugged oil and gas canals and disrupt access to the project area.

The coastal scientists and engineers who published the Comprehensive Recommendations Supporting the Use of the Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy to Sustain Coastal Louisiana in August 2007 recommended encouraging the Mississippi to wash over its banks, a rates totaling up to 100,000 cubic feet per second, over the twenty miles south of Bohemia. Doing so would rebuild its natural levee. It was a habitat that, in the twenty-first century at least, was unique to Louisiana, where all other ridges were under intense development. The process would offer scientists and engineers an opportunity to observe and understand how a river develops its natural levee.[ii] Photograph 2007

 

Bohemia Siphon along the Mississippi

 

Mississippi River Ridge: Small Siphon at Bohemia

Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana

James Buchanan Eads solved the problem of sandbars blocking the passes at the mouth of the Mississippi with jetties, which opened Southwest Pass to shipping, but as early as 1832 Major Benjamin Buisson, Chief Engineer of the State of Louisiana, proposed and the State Legislature approved dredging a canal to connect the River at Fort St. Philip to Breton Sound. The State sent the proposal to Congress, which ordered a survey in 1837. Major W.H Chase did the survey and presented the War Department with a plan for the canal at an estimated cost of ten million dollars, a price tag that was way beyond Congress’s reach for public improvements in 1837.

Mr. R. Montaigu, a civil engineer, revived the idea twenty years later, but it was not until 1871 that Congress ordered the Corps of Engineers to make surveys and plans for the canal. Major C.W. Howell drew up the plans and a board of army officers, that included Major Howell, made a report that favored the plan over Eads’ proposed jetties in 1873. The cost would be thirteen million dollars. General A.A. Humphreys, Chief of Engineers and Eads’ rival, approved the plan, but General J.G. Bernard dissented, saying the cost estimates for the canal were unreliable, the canal would not solve the problem, would not be finished until 1884, and at least one of the passes in the river should be improved. And, should South Pass be jettied, it would function like a canal.

In February 1874 Eads proposed delivering a channel twenty-eight feet deep and 350 feet wide at a cost of ten million dollars, and he offered to work for free until he had achieved a channel twenty feet deep when he would receive a million dollars and a million for every two feet until the channel reached twenty-eight feet. The rest, five million dollars, would go for maintenance.[iii]

Eads got the job and got the job done. His jetties and those that followed delivered sediment to very deep water, where it was useless for land building. Combine the jetties with the levees and the wetlands in the Barataria Basin to the west and Breton Sound to the east were starved for freshwater and sediment.

In the wake of Katrina the canal was back and Fort Philip, located south of the end of the mainline levee and already the site of a planned diversion, was the proposed site of a major diversion of freshwater and sediment to Breton and Chandeleur Sounds.

First, the diversion: In 1994 Ivor van Heerden proposed diverting Mississippi water and sediment to Breton and Chandeleur sounds through the Bohemia Wildlife Management Area near Fort Philip and creating a new delta. He reiterated the proposal in a 2003 paper and again in his 2006 book, The Storm. The diversion would be huge, 200,000 cubic feet per second, would create more than five thousand acres or eight square miles of wetlands every year, leading to 140 square miles of new land within twenty years. The Bird-foot Delta would be abandoned, though enough water would be left the river to maintain the shipping channel through Southwest Pass. Or, a new navigation channel would be dredged just north of Empire through Adams and Bastian Bays in the Barataria Basin to the Gulf of Mexico. A new lock and other control structures would have to be built to make it possible. The delta would evolve into a series of barrier islands, which would coalesce with the Breton and Chandeleur islands to the east and the Barataria Bay islands to the west, and create a continuous arc of islands from Grand Isle to the northeastern tip of the Chandeleur Islands, a speed bump to hurricane storm surges. The new wetlands would further reduce storm surges. New Orleans’ levees would be protected. Eventually, the new delta would extend across MRGO, leading to its closing, but after Katrina that was on Louisiana’s agenda anyway. The proposal followed van Heerden’s dictum: “Barrier islands protect the wetlands, the wetlands protect the levees, the levees protect the home.” Photograph, 2007

 


[i]      Stoddard, 159.

[ii]             Multiple Lines of Defense Assessment Team, “Comprehensive Recommendations Supporting the Use of the Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy to Sustain Coastal Louisiana,” Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, August 17, 2007, 71-72, http://www.saveourlake.org/pdfs/JL/LPBF%20-%20CRCL%20Final%20Draft%20MLODS%20report%208-17-07%20for%20release%20part1.pdf; Lane, Robert R., John W. Day, Jr., Burnell Thibodeaus, “Water Quality Analysis of a Freshwater Diversion at Caernarvon, Louisiana,” Estuaries, Vol. 22, No. 2A, June 1999, 329, http://estuariesandcoasts.org/cdrom/ESTU1999_22_2A_327_336.pdf; Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force, Delta Building Diversion North of Fort St. Philip (BS-10), October 2003, http://data.lacoast.gov/reports/gpfs/BS-10.pdf.

[iii]             Corthell, Elmer Lawrence, A History of the Jetties at the Mouth of the Mississippi River, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1881, 17-23; Barry, 68-71;

Ecosystem Restoration: The Upper Mississippi and the Louisiana Coast, Studied to Death

Weaver Bottoms

While I was researching The Mississippi: A Visual Biography, I spent a morning with Mike Davis, who researches mussels on the Upper Mississippi for the Minnesota DNR. Mike pointed to a shelf in the corner of his conference room at his office in Lake City, and ranted about the number of studies the Corps of Engineers does that go no where or not far enough. The following morning he took me out into Weaver Bottoms and Half Moon Lake near West Newton, Minnesota and showed me how deposits of sediment trapped behind Upper Mississippi  dams–Lock and Dam #5 in this cas–from its tributaries were smothering mussel beds in Weaver Bottoms.

In 1986 Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act which included the Upper Mississippi River Management Act, which acknowledged that the Upper Mississippi is a nationally significant ecosystem as will as a nationally significant navigation system and was an effort to restore its degrading marshes and islands.

Bayou Rigolettes Shoreline Restoration Project

In 1990 Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act which included the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protections, and Restoration Act, also know as the Breaux Act and know familiarly twenty years later as CWPPRA. Both acts funded small ecosystem restoration projects.

Lock and Dam 26, Alton, Illinois

Neither act did anything to change the factors that caused the degrading ecosystems. The dams on the Upper Mississippi remained in place and continued to trap sediment behind them, smothering mussle beds.

MRGO at Ycloskey

Navigation channels like MRGO and oil company channels  remained in place, funneling salt water into freshwater marshes, killing them. The levees along the Mississippi would remain in place, depriving marshes in Barataria Bay and Breton Sound precious freshwater and sediment whenever the Mississippi had a flood like the one of 2011 or any other flood.

By 1998 the people working  to restore the Louisiana coastal marshes–the Corps of Engineers, the Louisiana DNR, the EPA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, etc–recognized that small projects were never going to do the job. They signed the Coast 2050 Feasibility Cost Share agreement, by which they would share the $14 billion cost of repairing Louisiana’s coastal marshes. Not until 2003 did the New Orleans District of the Corps of Engineers come up with the draft study of the project. The Bush administration paled at the cost and sent the engineers back to work to come up with the smaller, more focused, less expensive proposal of projects that could be completed in the near term. The Corps published the $1.9 billion Louisiana Coast Area Ecosystem Restoration Study in 2007 and Congress authorized it in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act, but did not fund it.

In the years following the passage of the 1986 Upper Mississippi act, it became clear that small projects were not going to do the job there. In 2000 the Corps of Engineers treated the nation to the lock extension scandal, a proposal to extend the locks on five dams north of the Alton Dam, #26, north of St. Louis. It seems the engineers cooked the books to justify the extension and a Corps economists called them out on it. When the dust settled, Congress authorized the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program, which included the lock extension, but also authorized a$1.7 billion ecosystem restoration program in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act, and ordered the Corps of Engineers to pursue lock extension and ecosystem restoration simultaneously, but funded neither.

That Congress included the Louisiana Coast Area Ecosystem Restoration Study, puny though in was in light of the need, and the  Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program, even if it included lock extension, in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act brought hope to those of us who care about the Upper Mississippi and the Louisiana coastal islands and marshes. The economy was in recession when President signed the act into law. The economy crashed the following September. Congress still has not funded either program.

That Congress has not funded the lock extension gives Upper River environmentalists hope that they will never be funded, but nor will ecosystem restoration.

BP agreed to a $20 billion fund to compensate those people whose businesses along the Gulf Coast were harmed by last summer’s massive oil spill. Environmentalists and others hoped that some of that money could go into ecosystem restoration.

Last week the New Orleans District of the Corps of Engineers signed yet another agreement with the State of Louisiana to study the possibility of redesigning the Mississippi to divert water and sediment to Barataria Bay to the east and Breton Sound to the west.

We know what needs to be done on both the Upper Mississippi and the Louisiana Coast. We have studied the ecosystem deterioration to death and the marshes continue to die. What we end up with is a pile of unfunded studies.

The Ducks have arrived in Louisiana

Catahoula NWR, Duck Impoundment

It never hurts to reiterate William Dunbar’s 1804 description of what modern wildlife managers call moist soil management:

“Catahoola Lake lies west of this place & communicates with the Red river during the time of the great annual inundation; it receives at the West or N.W. angle a Creek called little river, which preserves a channel with running water at all seasons, meandering along the bed of the lake; but all other parts of its superficies during the dry season from July to November & often latter, are completely drained & become clothed in the most luxuriant herbage: the bid of the Lake them becomes the residence of immense herds of Deer, of Turkeys, Geese, Ducks, Cranes &c&cc feeding on the grass and grain; the Duck species being generally found on or near the little river.”– William Dunbar, 1804[i]

Last summer, while BP oil gushed out of the Mancondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, I wrote about the public and private refuges in Southeast Louisiana and Mississippi. Birders and duck hunters were concerned that oil would foul the wintering grounds of the ducks and geese that descend on Louisiana every winter and that more birds would be lost to oil. And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was preparing the Moist Soil Units in places like the Catahoula NWR in Louisiana and the Panther NWR in Mississippi.

Moist Soil Unit at the Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Yazoo County, Mississippi

The Natural Resources Conservation Service was encouraging farmers and ranchers to manage their properties for migrating waterfowl this winter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture allocated $6.1 million dollars to the project, giving money to private refuges as well as farmers and ranchers to create duck-friendly wetlands on their properties. Some of that money went to Tara Wildlife, a private refuge north of Vicksburg, which Audubon has name an IBA, a bird area of International importance.

Paw Paw Chute, Near Tara Wildlife

It’s cold and snowy in the Dakotas and Minnesota, where American waterfowl nest in the summer, but its warm and there is plenty of food available in Louisiana’s wildlife refuges and the ducks have arrived all across Louisiana, including the coastal refuges, the Delta NWR, which received no oil, and Pass a Loutre WMA, where oil washed the refuge last June. The ducks have arrived and so have the hunters. The worst has not happened.

The Delta National Wildlife Refuge