La Fête d’Ecologie educates public about wetlands importance

Kerry St. Pé, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program executive director, instructs Alexander Daigle, 8, of Morgan City, on throwing a cast net at Saturday’s La Fête d’Ecologie at Lake End Park in Morgan City.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.  The Cast Net King.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.  The Cast Net King.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.  The Cast Net King.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.  The Cast Net King.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.  The Cast Net King procession.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.  The Cast Net King with Kerry St. Pé, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program executive director.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.
La Fête d’Ecologie was held Saturday, Oct 19, at Lake End Park in Morgan City.  The Cast Net King demonstrates casting a net.
We do this to educate the people, to demonstrate the importance of our wetlands and the importance of our culture.
 
By HARLAN KIRGAN
The music, food, crafts and exhibits had a fun factor, but Saturday’s La Fête d’Ecologie had its serious side — educating the festivalgoers about the importance of wetlands. 
Despite morning that started with rain and threatened showers until noon, Kerry St. Pé, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program executive director, said the crowd was rebounding to its normal size of 2,000 to 3,000. 
The 17-year-old festival was missing a few federal partners such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Natural Resource Service were unable to participate because of the recent federal government shutdown, he said. 
“We do this to educate the people, to demonstrate the importance of our wetlands and the importance of our culture,” St. Pé said.
“It is all about saving this culture,” he said. 
“We are all here because of the wetlands,” he said. “We might fish in the wetlands recreationally, we might make a living catching shrimp or oysters out the wetlands, or we might just live here and depend on the wetlands to protect our community.”
St. Pé linked the loss of wetlands to increased vulnerability to storms. 
“The insurance costs are going up because we no longer have the wetlands,” he said. Storm surges are impacting us greatly now and that is all a product of wetlands loss. The whole insurance issue is based on increased damage from hurricanes and why we are getting increased damage from hurricanes is because of wetlands loss.”
The festival is organized by the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, based in Thibodaux at Nicholls State University and is administered through the Louisiana Universities and Marine Consortium. BTNEP has been in existence since 1991. 
The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary consists of 13 parishes, and is one of 28 national estuaries. The estuary covers 4.2 million acres between the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers. The program is designed to educate people throughout those parishes, Kristy Monier, event coordinator said.
 

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