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Coastal Rundown: Year In Review

Laine Kaplan-Levenson

Jesse Hardman is the Coastal Reporter and LaineKaplan-Levenson is the Coastal Producer for WWNO’s Coastal Desk. The desk launched in June, and with the end of 2014 the team curated a recap of coverage thus far.

Listen to the Coastal Team talk with WWNO News Director Eve Troeh:

Starting Out:

Credit Jesse Hardman / WWNO
An original Marsh Buggy sits in the construction yard.

One theme we set out to cover in the beginning is the way science and coastal restoration can be a boost to the gulf coast’s economy. With all the negative impacts that come with coastal erosion, some companies are benefiting from it. Marsh Buggies, Inc is an example one small local company that decided to re-outfit its construction equipment to perform coastal restoration work.

Jesse Hardman talked to Sam Bentley, an LSU Geology professor and head of the LSU coastal studies institute. Bentley’s also part of a group of researchers that were recently awarded $1.6 million to look at how coastal erosion impacts families living in the Delta region.

Listen to Bentley Here:


Another Summer Story:

Credit Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO
Working Coast Camp Director Jonathan Foret.

In July, Laine visited the Working Coast Camp in Houma, Louisiana.  This two week program aims to let the kids of Terrebonne Parish become familiar at a younger age with all the jobs available to them in their community. This introduction to industry helps them get a grasp on what they need to do in order to learn how to get the jobs that interest them most in their area.

Jonathan Foret is the director of the camp and grew up in Houma. This place is important to him, and he’s seen a lot of change.

Listen to Foret Here:


The Controversy:

Credit Jesse Hardman / WWNO
Save Louisiana Coalition bumber sticker.

We’re learning a lot of the terminology used in the master plan (with our Coastal Glossary) and one of those commonly used and heard words is diversions. Jesse took a closer look at what’s so controversial about this specific form of coastal restoration and management. He and News Director Eve Troeh took a boat ride to the Wax Lake Delta, which has been built back over the course of a few decades. As its been left alone, it’s grown back, and Louisiana is hoping this type of success story will keep happening if they create more diversions off of the Mississippi River. Jesse talked to a charter fisherman from Morgan City named Ivy St Romain, who’s excited to see the wildlife coming back.

Listen to Romain Here:


On the other side, another charter fishermen named George Ricks (founder of the Save Louisiana Coalition) is against diversions. He’s concerned that if they put more freshwater in and keep the salt water out, his fishing stock and business will suffer.

Listen to Ricks Here:


‘Viable Communities’:

Credit Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO
Braithwaite, Louisiana, a town on the East Bank of Plaquemines Parish

In October, Jesse went down to Braithwaite, part of Plaquemines Parish. Braithwaite was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Isaac, and although many homes were destroyed, people wanted to rebuild. Jesse talked to a priest named Michael Giles who brought back his church after it was destroyed by Isaac. Braithwaite is an example of one of the communities that’s being questioned as a "viable" option for being included in/protected by the master plan.

Listen to Pastor Giles Here:


Transitioning to Ecotourism:

Credit Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO
Tony Goutierrez in his trailer office on Hopedale Highway in St. Bernard Parish.

Another field trip was to visit some fishermen at a "Working on the Water" workshop in Violet, Louisiana. Laine got in touch with Tony Goutierrez who works in Hopedale, LA who wants to transition from commercial fishing to the recreational fishing industry, but as a tour guide.

Listen to Goutierrez here:


There were a lot more stories, from our Vanishing Points tour (Part I and Part II), coverage of the Society for Environmental Journalism conference, our trips to Austin, Philadelphia, and Milwaukeeto learn about various urban water management systems and green infrastructure implementation, a look into the big box stores that recently popped up here that did not build using green infrastructure, a five part series on Bayou Bienvenue, and more.

Don’t be shy: tweet at Jesse (@JesseAHardman) and Laine (@Lainekaplev) and tell them what you want the coastal desk to cover in 2015!

Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and the Kabacoff Family Foundation.

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