Is Louisiana’s coast a lost cause? Maybe some people think so, maybe even some people in Washington who ought to be helping us out.
But in one of his last acts as U.S. Interior secretary, Ken Salazar took an airboat ride through the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge along the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, surveying what we hope many marshlands will look like in a few years.
In 2008, the Point Platte marsh no longer existed, having been overtaken by 3 feet of water. Today, after berms were built and lake sediment pumped in, about 100 acres of marsh were restored with grasses planted by volunteers — Salazar may be counted in that number, as it was part of his earlier photo opportunity at the project funded by the U.S. government.
The marsh is now drawing anglers and hunters as the wildlife population has come back.
As noted by Garrett Graves, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s top coastal aide, the marsh project is part of the giant effort needed to restore marshes and provide the natural buffer to hurricane impacts.
“It’s safe to say the area is better protected now and more resilient than ever before,” Graves said.
That’s a good send-off for Salazar, who is returning to his native Colorado. But we appreciate his support of this success story, and hope to see it replicated many times in the coming years.
As the outgoing secretary and Graves said, there is potential funding for many more promising projects as the area recovers from the catastrophic 2010 oil leak.
“You can make believers out of skeptics,” Salazar said of the return of the marsh. We are glad to see federal officials getting that message, and hope to see it heard in the halls of Congress, as well.