When the boy scouts of Acadiana nestle the first of 4,457 bald cypress trees into the ground of the Atchafalaya Basin Feb. 20, they will be attempting to undo the massive logging of the 20th century that virtually clear cut the 1000-year-old virgin cypress forest. This is not a frivolous undertaking. The initiative, created to celebrate a century of scouting in the U.S., is a long-range service project, 100 years to be precise.
“At our next centennial,” says Gary McGoffin, president of the Evangeline Area Council, referring to the 2110 anniversary, “we want future scouts to open the time capsule, see exactly what we planted, see where the trails are we created, where you can hike, where you can camp, where you can paddle. Feb. 20 is just the beginning.”
Quite a beginning indeed. The Evangeline Area Council of scouts has partnered with the Louisiana departments of Natural Resources, Culture Recreation and Tourism, Wildlife and Fisheries, Forestry and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to effect change in the basin. Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin, over 800,000 acres of wetlands, is the largest freshwater swamp in the U.S. Of that territory, 500,000 acres lie in Acadiana, within St. Landry, St. Martin, Iberia and St. Mary parishes.
The effort also reflects back on the state and how money is spent on the basin. In the past, the Atchafalaya Basin Program, run by DNR, spent millions on programs that built museums, welcome centers, boat docks and even a golf course with funds that were targeted for improved water quality in the basin. The scouting effort is helping to return the focus to the nuts and bolts of restoring natural water flow and reforesting damaged areas. Since Hurricane Andrew downed hundreds of acres of trees nearly 20 years ago, the basin has been clogged with deadfalls, exacerbated by hurricanes Lili, Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. When the scouts decided to plant trees — 4,457 cypresses to represent the same number of scouts in the eight Evangeline Area parishes — DNR, partnering with St. Martin Parish, took the initiative to send bulldozers in to clear the 30 acres that will be planted this February. Centennial Cypress Forest, the newly named targeted area, will grow to 180 acres as the project continues over the course of 2010.
Feb. 20 is just the kickoff. By next spring, McGoffin says, the scouts will publish a five-year plan. But there are already glimmers of what is to come.
Art Hawkins, executive for the Evangeline Area Council, intends to turn the basin into an outdoor laboratory for generations of Acadiana youths. As explorers of the wilderness, scouts will log where they go, how many days and nights spent in the basin, how many miles hiked or canoed, how much trash they pick up, how many trees they planted. All the information will go into a computer program accessible to scouts across the country. Hiking trails, primitive camp sites and canoe trails will be noted, although the effort promotes no-trace, no-impact camping. And special patches designating work done in the basin will be awarded.
For decades, scouts have looked for adventure far afield. The vision, says McGoffin, is to refocus local scout troops on the wilderness we have in our own back yard. “We see the basin as a high adventure playground,” says McGoffin. “We want the basin to become synonymous with scouting.”
Saturday, Feb. 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Butte LaRose Welcome Center will be the jumping off place for tree planting. Scouts will hike about 500 feet to plant substantial trees — 5 to 6 feet tall. Meanwhile, a cultural mini-festival will take place at the welcome center, with music by Michael and David Doucet, Cedric Watson, Hadley Castille and the Sons of Voodoo. State departments plan to erect tented displays about wildlife, hunting and fishing, and other activities in the basin. To register as a Pack, Troop or Family to participate in this project, go to www.eacbsa.org.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)