Restoration efforts underway in oil spill-impacted Grand Isle State Park

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 25, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 25 at 6:19 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

GRAND ISLE, La.-- At the far eastern fringe of Grand Isle's sunny shores, the Crain family spent the day not at the beach, but in the muck.

"We decided it was the perfect day to come out as a family and help and get her service hours, too," said Shelley Crain of Houma, who was with her two daughters and husband.

They were just a few of the dozens of volunteers, who spent the day planting more than 1,600 Black Mangroves at Grand Isle State Park. The area was hit hard during last year's oil spill and reopened in May.

"BP just finished up their work on this side of the island, they've been working to clean up and it's one of the first few times volunteers have just been able to get back into this area over the last couple of months," said Hilary Collis, with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

The Coalition and the National Wildlife Foundation helped organize the mass planting. The hope is that the mangroves will help to eventually stop some of the erosion there.

"They're going to help to stabilize the sediment, stabilize the sand," said Allyse Ferrara, with Nicholls State University, which helped grow some of the mangrove seedlings. "They also create a lot of habitat for wildlife. In particular, things like pelicans, some of the birds that nest in these areas will use mangroves."

Just how well the mangroves will do, in places which were once coated in oil, remains to be seen.

"These plants are adapted to this area and hopefully they will be hardy enough to withstand any toxins that may still be present," said the National Wildlife Federation's Ben Weber

The volunteers carry that same hope. Several educators from Success Preparatory Academy Charter School in New Orleans came out to work on the planting, which they hope to eventually include in their school curriculum.

"Service is one of our main goals and we can't have our kids live it, if we're not living it," said Erik Kelt, with Success Preparatory Academy. "So, we're out here doing it now and then we're going to eventually hopefully get our kids involved in coastal wetlands."

It is a lesson that ten-year-old Grace Crain said she already understands.

"I don't want to be living in water," she said. "I want the land to be here."

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana said future plans include planting mangroves at Fourchon Beach and Isle Derniere.
 

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