Hovey's Outdoor Adventures

Hovey Smith

Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures – Hunt Destination: Grand Isle and Jean Lafitte, Louisiana

Journey to “The Jump” at land’s end in Southern Louisiana with Hovey and a group of journalists as they tour Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes, sample seafood, visit nature preserves, fish and examine beaches for traces of last year’s oil spill. Each of the journalists applied their own perspectives to a historic area that has undergone five major disasters in as many years and had “The Flood of the Century” racing down the Mississippi River at them.
Natural disasters are not new for these people who live only feet above sea level, and they take them in stride. There has been a nearly complete recovery from the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As Tim Kerner, the Mayor of the town of Jean Lafitte said, “The hurricanes and floods we can manage, it is when our own government prevented us from doing what obviously needed to be done that was so bad. In some cases we had the equipment and we had the people, but were prevented from acting for three days because we did not have enough life preservers for our workers.”
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said that he was nearly stopped from attending a vital meeting with President Obama, but ultimately convinced officials to let him present his case that booms were desperately needed to help protect the coastal wetlands from advancing oil. The booms were ultimately employed, but only after some vital beaches and wetlands had been damaged.
Now, a year after the spill, the beaches at Grand Isle are sugar white again, fishing, shrimping and oystering have resumed and sportsmen and their families are once more returning to southern Louisiana to enjoy the beaches, natural environment and local culture, including some fine-tasting meals from what is likely the most highly-inspected seafood in the world.
Charter boat, private boat, shore and pier fishing are all available as are natural and cultural tours. The usual schedule of fishing tournaments has resumed, and fishing guides are putting people on redfish, flounder and speckled trout. Offshore boats are also going out for tuna, tarpin and bill fish. Although hunting season is still months away, everyone is eagerly anticipating next year’s duck season.
New Orleans remains dry, despite the pressure put on the rebuild levies from a 100-year flood event. The area below the city in Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes remains very dry. Actually, some diversion of the floodwaters into parts of these parishes using structures that already exist would help to restore the wetlands and drive back the oil. Another way to help the wetlands is to construct artificial barriers using sand already being dredged from the river channel.
A strong case can be made that rebuilding the Louisiana coastal wetlands should be delegated to the U.S. Geological Survey. This organization is accustomed to dealing with long-lived, large geological systems and have the trained hydrologist, geomorphologist, geochemists and biologists to make reasonable decisions, evaluate the consequences using geological data from present and past systems and the mindset to deal with a problem that may take centuries to solve.
The Louisiana Delta area is too important to the nation from the energy, ecological, transportation, economic and social perspectives to allow it to continue to degrade. The costs of doing nothing will raise food, transportation, energy and rebuilding costs because each new storm event will have an increasingly severe impact because of the loss of these vital wetlands that protect the Louisiana coast.