War on water lilies: Volunteers needed for next battle Saturday in Baldwin
Cajuns for Bayou Teche, the flotilla of mostly private motorboats, kayaks and canoes responsible for removing tons of garbage and debris from upper Bayou Teche, is set to tackle a very different problem on the lower end of this picturesque and historic waterway.
Cajuns founder Blake Couvillion is asking for volunteers to snag and remove rafts of water hyacinth from the bayou in St. Mary Parish.
The group will meet at the public launch ramp on Bayou Teche in Baldwin at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 30. Don’t worry if you’re late, there will be somebody there and something you can do until around 1 p.m.
The old tires, TVs, barbecue pits, bicycles and household garbage the Cajuns volunteers have been gathering threaten to give the Teche Country a black eye in the minds of hundreds of paddlers from around the country drawn here by the Tour du Teche canoe and kayak marathon. But the hyacinth, an invasive South American water lily, nearly brought the race to halt last year when it literally clogged the bayou at Franklin.
“In light of the upcoming paddle race, Tour du Teche, we are trying to put our best foot forward for all racers by providing them an unobstructed course through the bayou”, said Couvillion, himself a Tour du Teche veteran.
“We will try to achieve this mechanically, and without chemicals as we list water quality to be a top priority in the Teche Project.”
Poisoning with herbicides is deemed the only cost-effective means of controlling hyacinth in Louisiana. Water quality suffers, however, when the lilies sink to the bottom and deteriorate.
Mechanical means have only worked in places like Africa, the Philippines and Australia where local fishermen or other interests have been able to muster the kind of manpower needed to corral and remove the floating vegetation.
Water hyacinth, which is native to South America, was introduced into the United States at the 1884 World’s Fair in New Orleans, apparently valued for its purple flower. Infestations of hyacinth are now found all over the world where the habitat suits the plant. It forms mats that can double their size in a week, blocking waterways, crowding out native vegetation and starving fish for oxygen.
Volunteers with motor boats are especially needed to make this effort possible. Anyone with new ideas or mechanisms on how to efficiently remove the water hyacinth are definitely welcome and should contact Couvillion at (337) 230-8596 or at:
Cajuns for Bayou Teche is a program of the TECHE Project, a non-profit organization supporting programs about Bayou Teche.