Covering Louisiana

May 18, 2014 11:41 PM by Daniel Phillips

The Atchafalaya Basin Part 1: Environmental Importance

It's a true wild zone that stretches from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.

Overflowing with wildlife and scenic beauty the Atchafalaya Basin has captured the attention of the world.

Approximately 150 miles long the Basin is home to some of Louisiana's most iconic images, and encompassing over 900 square miles the Atchafalaya Basin is the largest river swamp in the country.

The Basin goes through two different cycles each year, a high water and low water cycle, each one as important as the other.

For the creatures who stay in the swamp through the high water season nothing is more important then the homes they make in the trees, trying to stay dry.

Out of all those trees that call the swamp their home few are as impressive or majestic as the Louisiana state tree, the Bald Cypruss.

This "River of Trees" as the Basin is sometimes called brings in more then just tourists, it attracts a vast population of migratory birds who make their way to the Atchafalaya each year.

Of all the birds that call it home, one native, the osprey has been brought back from the brink.

Nature tour guide Coerte Voorhees said that on his tour alone which is a 20 mile stretch there are thirty different osprey nests.

The Basin, however, is more then just a wild habitat it also plays an important role in the water quality in Lafayette as well.

Since the Vermilion River often flows north into the Basin during a heavy rain event the basin gives the water a chance to settle, and seep out some of the pollutants before it returns to Lafayette.

Despite all it does, however, there are a growing number of people concerned of the welfare of the Basin and warn that without proper care we could lose the unique stretch of land that helps define Louisiana.

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