The Gulf Coast Post - December 2020

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The best is yet to come Happy holidays from CRCL! It’s been … quite a year. At the start of 2020, we adopted a new strategic plan. One of the values the plan includes is “adapt as necessary.” We didn’t know what the year had in store for us, but that element of our organizational philosophy ended up being front and center for us. Our volunteer events, oyster collection and other in-person activities ground to a halt in March when the pandemic reached Louisiana. Our conference and an awards banquet were pushed back. Even the rollout of a beer promoting our work was affected. But adapt we have. Our meetings have gone virtual, as have the conference (more on that soon), awards banquet and our Shell-a-bration bash. Our volunteer planting events have resumed, and soon shell collection will restart. We built an oyster reef along our coast, and we have developed new efforts to connect with people to help them understand our coastal crisis through a youth leadership program, a self-guided bike tour and involvement in policy decisions that affect our future here in south Louisiana. We even got into the Zoom background game. This year left no doubt that our work is critical. Coastal Louisiana was battered by one hurricane after another this year, with devastating results, and the recovery will be lengthy. But do not doubt that there will be recovery. This will be one of those moments in history that is remembered for generations. There is no escaping the fact that it has been difficult. But a turning point has come in the pandemic, and a turning point is on the horizon in the effort to save our coast. By working together, great things are in store for south Louisiana in 2021, we believe. The time for action is now. Coastal restoration needs your support. We thank you for being with us in 2020, and we hope that you will join us in the new year.

The state of the State of the Coast As we mentioned, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to postpone our State of the Coast conference, which originally was scheduled for May of this year. The gathering, usually held once every two years, has been kicked back to June 2-4, 2021, and it will be at least mostly virtual. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Water Institute of the Gulf and Louisiana Sea Grant will be co-hosting with us. We expect the focus of the conference to include this year’s unprecedented hurricane season, and we will have a great lineup of speakers. The program is still being developed. Sponsorships are available as of press time. We know that in light of all that’s happened in the past 12 months, this will be a robust conference, with interesting, critically important and relevant research and involvement from experts across a variety of professions in the coastal sector. Make plans to join us, and stay tuned for registration information.

Gifts that keep on giving Need some last-minute gift ideas? Check out our new retail store! We have plenty of other Christmas gift options as well. For instance, with your donation of $1,000 or more to CRCL, you’ll receive a limitededition print of artist Marjorie Pierson’s “Louisiana Lace #1,” which is the signature piece in here latest exhibit. (See a video of the exhibit here.) And we are throwing an awesome party in February, Shell-abration. Do you love fresh Louisiana oysters? We’ll deliver 3 dozen of them to your house as part of this year’s event, and Chef Rifko of Oysters XO will teach you how to open them during a unique virtual social (cheers!) soiree. We’ll even have life music by Sweet Crude. The Shell-a-bration benefits and promotes our Oyster Shell Recycling Program, so you’ll be getting some great perks while contributing to a critically important cause. We hope to see you there!

Recipe for success Speaking of oyster shell recycling, there are some exciting developments on that front. As noted previously, shell collection was put on pause back in March because of the pandemic. Well, we are breaking some news here: We are resuming shell collection next month, initially with seven restaurant partners in New Orleans. They are: Cooter Brown's, NOLA Creole Cookery, Peche, Red Fish Grill, Seaworthy, Elysian Seafood at St. Roch Market and Superior Seafood. And we’ll be working with Phoenix Recycling to collect the shell.You have to admit it’s a beautiful concept: Save our coast; eat some oysters! We also are in the planning stages for our fourth and fifth oyster reefs. These living shorelines help minimize coastal erosion and storm surge, and they provide the ideal cultch for new oysters to grow. And speaking of food, check out the “Coastal Cookbook” from our friends at Restore the Mississippi River Delta. Want to contribute? Send in your own favorite dish featuring Louisiana seafood. Also, as an organization, we have submitted comments to the start Department of Wildlife & Fisheries on their draft Oyster Management and Rehabilitation Strategic Plan, noting that “a thriving oyster fishery is a critical element of the future coast we wish to see.” According to our executive director, Kim Reyher, our comments “focus on the potential value of oysters for non-cultivation purposes and the use of oyster shell as a resource, and urge the expansion of oyster shell recycling to provide more oyster shell for fisheries habitat and coastal protection projects.”

Back to the future Built into our organizational philosophy is the inherently optimistic idea that through certain actions, we can – nay, must – build a better future here in south Louisiana. That means on-the-ground work of various types now, of course, but it also means helping to ensure that people continue to take action into the future. For life in coastal Louisiana to be sustainable, we need sustained coastal restoration, and for that we need sustained leadership. As such, we have developed two programs, Future Coastal Leaders and the Student Ambassador Program. The former, for high schoolage students, is set to begin in January; we are seeking participants, mentors and sponsors. We are accepting applications for the Spring 2021 semester for the Student Ambassador Program, which is for college students.

Out and about One positive side effect of the coronavirus pandemic is that many Louisianians have been getting outside more often and enjoying the paradise we call home. Being outdoors can make for a great break for those of us working from home, and it’s also a good way to see more of our state. One of the things our organization did this year was craft a series of kayak tours with our friends at Lost Lands Tours and Tulane University. We also created this fun self-guided bike tour of Baton Rouge that takes riders past locations that have some role in coastal restoration.

Join the coalition We have volunteer tree planting events scheduled for next month, and we’d love for you to join us. Getting your hands dirty in the work of restoring our coast is fun and extremely gratifying. It’s also a great team-building exercise, and we welcome groups. Watch this space and our home page and social media for more volunteer opportunities. You can also help ensure our future in south Louisiana in other ways, such as by becoming a member. And check out our stewardship guide for ideas about how your business or organization can get involved.





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