Melancon pledges LDWF support to Lower Mississippi River Basin restoration effort

You have our total support,” Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Charlie Melancon pledged Thursday to a national organization attempting to restore some 1 million acres of land along the Lower Mississippi River Basin, or as Restore the Earth Foundations calls it, “North America’s Amazon”.

Melancon was a guest speaker at the Restore the Earth Foundation’s kick off activity – the planting of trees at Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area in Terrebonne Parish. Volunteers from several public and private businesses and groups participated in the effort that will eventually reach 4,000 acres planted along the coast.

“This is a great public and private partnership for a great cause,” Melancon said. He told REF officials that Louisiana will “work alongside you as long as it takes to get this done.”

The tree-planting ceremony kicked off Restore the Earth’s long range plan to restore Mississippi River Basin land which it calls North America’s Amazon. The commitment in Louisiana is part of a larger 15-year commitment to restore 1 million acres in the Lower Mississippi River Basin.

P.J. Marshall, co-founder and executive director of REF said, "To address the significant coastal wetland loss here in Louisiana, and the bigger issues of environmental degradation in the United States and around the world, we need big picture goals and diverse, collaborative partnerships which bring together visionaries from government, non-profits and companies to restore the Earth!   Its projects like these where collaboration becomes impact.”

REF says if its goals are met, the result will be: the reduction of America’s carbon foot print by 2 percent, the reversal of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico by 12 percent; improved water quality; mitigation contaminates reaching the Gulf of Mexico; and the creation of jobs.

REFs has created partnerships with the Entergy, Shell Oil, CITGO, VMware, U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD), Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and others.

Dozens of volunteers from REF’s partners participated in Thursday’s tree planting Groundbreaking ceremony, planting over 600 trees.

Daniel Kietzer