Slidell My son and I are hardly scientists, but we know something about the marsh and bayous between Lake Pontchartrain and the West Pearl River. Until Katrina we had a fishing camp on two acres a mile or so as a crow would fly from the Lake. Now we have two acres of mainly marsh and a damaged dock left. In the Saturday sunset we took our beaten up, yellow Mohawk canoe, a disappointing replacement for the Old Town lost in the storm, for an hour paddle around the area to see how things stood on the opening day of the 2009 hurricane season.
We came away pleased. The marsh is healthier than we could remember it in recent years. Water was high and late spring green abounded. Louisiana herons rose around every bend and red-winged blackbirds sang out everywhere. There has been good recovery since the storm and the depletion of the nutria population in Katrina has also stemmed some of the erosion.
The marsh and bayous all around the Bayou Island Camp are now all part of an expanded National Wildlife Refuge, which frankly doesn’t hurt either. The duck blinds are gone now in the back bayou. For the first time in a decade we didn’t run into spoiled and drifting crab traps as well. The water occasionally would boil with fish in the swallows as the paddle pierced the water’s surface.
This marsh and the ridge running even with the Rigolets between Lake Ponchartrain and Lake Borgne are important barrier protections against surges coming in from the Mississippi Sound of the Gulf of Mexico along the north shore across from the city of New Orleans. This is a constant fight against erosion and development, and not something on the Corps of Engineers list. This is Mother Nature’s work, and she seems to temporarily have gotten a break and a chance to rebuild.
We threw the boat on top of the truck and the rack that lies there permanently for just these pure pleasures, and both of us left the water with smiles on our faces.