Over the past four days, 130 canoes, kayaks and other watercraft hit the waters of Bayou Lafourche to be paddled through the heart of the waterway that is so important to the people of the region.
Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program’s Paddle Bayou Lafourche, which wrapped up its 16th year today, extended from the bayou’s headwaters in Donaldsonville down to Bayouside Park in Lockport.
Kristy Monier, the Paddle Bayou Lafourche coordinator, said the event is about more than just paddling from one end of the bayou to the other.
“This is not just a regular paddle trip. This is an educational trip,” Monier said. “We want to bring notice to the bayou as an economic value. We want people to understand that it’s the source of drinking water for over 300,000 people. We want them to understand how valuable the bayou and the water is.”
Monier also said BTNEP wants to stress to people who take part in the trip that coastal erosion is causing the area to not only lose land but also lose the culture that is so central to life on the bayou.
“That’s why we feed them pretty well with cultural food and we have the Cajun music,” Monier said. “We also had the Houma Nation Indians provide cultural cuisine for us last night to try to tie together all the culture and heritage that goes along with the people along the bayou.”
Many of the boats had more than one occupant, so Monier said she did not know the exact number of people who took part. The event normally brings in people from as many as 15 states, including Mississippi and Alabama.
Warren Spears of Thibodaux, who took part in the event, said that while he had lived in the area for almost 40 years, he didn’t realize how vital the bayou is to the region.
“It was an awesome paddle,” Spears said. “Even though we got rained out yesterday, it’s for a good cause and we learned what Bayou Lafourche is all about. The history, the significance, basically what it means to the…