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Group spreads awareness about threats to Atchafalaya Basin

Posted at 9:04 PM, Jan 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-27 22:14:27-05

The  Atchafalaya Basin Keepers are spreading awareness about protecting Louisiana’s wetlands.

On Sunday, the group held a fundraiser at Artmosphere so they can continue fighting for conservation of the basin.

“The basin is the bathtub that’s supposed to hold our water but as it fills up with sediments, the ability of the basin to protect us from those floods gets diminished,” said Dean Wilson, executive director of the Atchafalaya Basinkeepers.

The Atchafalaya Basin is home to hundreds of species of birds and fish. But side effects from pipelines being constructed nearby have become a major threat to the area, something the mayor of Henderson knows well.

“I’ve been in the basin all my life. I’ve seen it at its best, now I’m seeing it at its worst,” said Sherbin Collette. “What’s happening now, fishermen are fishing one on top of each other. Everyone has to go where there’s good water. The basin is gigantic but probably over 50% of the basin is unfishable,” the mayor adds.

Wilson said the construction often puts mounds of dirt and sediment in the water ways, killing the wetlands.

While there are requirements for sediment control that would minimize the impacts, Wilson said many times they aren’t followed.

“One of the problems is lack of enforcement of environmental law.  When pipeline companies put pipelines through the basin, those permits don’t get enforced,” he said.

Because of this, the Basinkeepers have filed lawsuits against the company building the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners.

Those in the organization said they are not anti-pipeline. They just want oil companies to build in a sustainable way, so that the beauty of the basin will be around for years to come.

“They are the watchdog in the basin. They make sure that everyone does the right thing and they’re there to protect the basin for future generations,” said Sen. Fred Mills, who was a guest speaker at the event.

“If it continues the way it’s going, they won’t have no more Atchafalaya Basin. That’s going to be sad because once it’s gone we’ll never get it back,” said Mayor Collette.

“Everything we do to protect the basin, we do it for them, for future generations,” Wilson said, carrying his grandson.

To read more about what the Basinkeepers do, click here.