Saving a Young Life...
... a wetland, an ecosystem, and a culture. These goals, although apparently disparate, are vitally interconnected and overwhelmingly important to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.
Here in the marshes which comprise the western shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain, an environmental disaster awaits. These wetlands, although reasonably healthy, are rapidly disappearing from our planet largely due to shoreline erosion and subsidence. The really sad aspect of this story is that it is entirely avoidable... At the very least we should be able to dramatically slow the rates of loss of these precious wetlands.
These marshes were once vibrant, growing baldcypress - tupelogum swamps like the one pictured here; diverse, species-rich wetland forests. The lumber from baldcypress trees is extremely desirable and has been widely used since humans first inhabited this region, but wholesale destruction of the swamps really only occurred since the development of mechanized logging practices. With the introduction of steam (and later diesel) engines the process became amazingly more efficient. The process of pullboat logging, as it came to be known, was so efficient that entire swamp forests were virtually denuded of trees within the lifespan of an average person.
Logging canals gouged into this swamp over one hundred years ago still scar the landscape. These logging canals have altered the hydrology of the Manchac/Maureas region to such an extent that water no longer flows across in a sheet-like pattern. Instead, water flows into these ditches and directly out into larger bodies of water like Pass Manchac and Lake Pontchartrain, carrying organic detritus along with the water. This loss of dead plant material is believed to be one of the primary contributors of wetland subsidence in the region.
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