Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Big Picture

After 25 years of doing my Louisiana swamp tour, I look back and realize I have lived a life I never dreamed of, and been able to share the things about the Louisiana wetlands that I love with many people who truly appreciated them. The people who came on my Louisiana swamp tours taught me ways to experience nature I had never known, such as bird watching and photography.

As I shared my passion for the wetlands and culture of south Louisiana with my guests, they helped open my eyes to many things I had never stopped to look at until they asked questions about those things.

In time, due to the success of my Louisiana swamp tour business, I have come to recognize the importance of Louisiana tourism as a means of protecting the environment, through education and the delightful experience of being on a Louisiana swamp tour in these wonderful wild places.

My experiences as a swamp tour guide in the Atchafalaya Basin and at Lake Martin have groomed me to be a television host and producer of educational and entertaining 1/2 hour programs. Welcome to My Wild Louisiana! These programs are focused on the Cajun culture, lifestyle, history, food, music, dance, festivals ,wildlife, and the enviroment.

Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys at Festivals Acadiane 2008

All of the above is designed to entertain and educate the public at large through televion programs and video sales. The primary focus is entertainment, and the education will follow through to deliver the truth about Louiaiana's coastal erosion issues.

People lining up to catch beads at a Lafayette Mardt Gras parade
Throw me something mister!

To preserve and restore coastal Louisiana, we must first understand what it was before we began logging the cypress forests, building roads and bridges, digging canals for navigation and drainage, dredging the barrier reef, and worst of all constructing levees to “protect” the Mississippi River delta from flooding, as well as all the floodplains from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

A photo taken fromm the top of the earthen levee at Henderson, Louisiana. Elevation of Henderson, approxomately 12 feet above sea level. Elevation of the top of the levee, 50 feet above sea level,

More recently, in observation of some of the projects being installed to fight coastal erosion, one must consider if we are doing more harm than good. To quote writer Wendell Berry; “We cannot know what we are doing until we know what nature would be doing if we were doing nothing.” We will not protect and thus preserve what we do not love, and we cannot restore what we do not understand from a historical perspective.

Wave activity washing away the marshland along coastal LouisianaDue to the destruction of our barrier reef and the absense there of, the only thing which stabilizes the land in the marsh is the roots of plants. And, in and of themselves, it is nor enough. We are losing 30-50 square miles of marshland in coastal Louisiana every year due to erosion.

I grew up in coastal Louisiana hunting and fishing the swamps and marshlands with my father and never imagined that in my lifetime I could witness the loss or collapse of this immense ecosystem. We lived off the land eating fish, frogs, turtle, alligator, shrimp, crab, crawfish, oyster, deer, rabbit, squirrel, duck, and goose. The abundance of seafood and game was so great in the wetlands that we always had a freezer full of seafood and meat, and a surplus to share with family and friends.

From the top, a speckled trout, redfish, and sheephead, caught in the marsh at Marsh Island, our largest barrier island off the coast of Louisiana.

Before I ever did Louisiana swamp tours, or had built my houseboat and moved into the Atchafalaya basin swamp to live full-time, I thought I would share that experience with family and friends when I became a fulltime resident of the basin. After I got there, nobody came unless they hunted or fished. And too many of those “consumers” in my opinion did not really appreciate what we had, and therefore made no contribution to care for or guard the resources therein.

To truly know and love the vast wetlands of Louisiana, you need to go out into it and explore the swamps, bayous, bays, barrier islands, and marshlands. Experience the sunrises, smell the sweetness of the air in the swamp in spring, eat the fish, photograph the flowers, hunt the game, watch the birds, smell the salt air in the bay and Gulf, catch crabs with hand nets and boil them on the spot, feel the wind in your hair, and hear the sound of silence at sunset in the middle of nowhere, as well as listen to the symphony of frogs in the swamp on a summer night.

A fresh caught blue point crab in the middle of Marsh Island

If you love the swamps and marshlands like I do, then you will enjoy the content and pictures in this website for their entertainment, research, and educational value. Use the public facilities and support the commercial businesses listed here for your outdoor pleasure, and make every effort to educate our youth regarding responsible use and stewardship of these fine recreational, natural resources available in Louisiana.

This website has been created to help visitors coming to Louisiana understand what a swamp and marsh is and find quality tour attractions that present educational and entertaining services without destroying the environment or threatening the wildlife that live in those environs.

As I travel around the state in production of my television programs, I will give an up to date list of businesses and recreational locations that are my favorites and qualify to be mentioned. That list will evolve and be updated as quickly as I can evaluate new attractions and locations that I discover. This website is not now nor will it ever be a finished or complete list of locations or attractions. If you are a seasoned tourist or a newcomer to Louisiana, I encourage you to leave your comments and questions on the blog and assist in the creation and maintenance of this guide to Louisiana swamp tours in the wilderness wetlands in Louisiana.

I will soon be enabling the comments section again, but was recently being spammed so, I shut it down temporarily untill we can resolve that security issue.

Marcus de la Houssaye