On April 29, a group of 8th graders from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Belle Chasse presented to the Louisiana House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment about the importance of coastal restoration.
The Committee diligently listened as the 8th graders used Cat Island as a call to action on the urgency for restoring our coast. Cat Island, located in Plaquemines Parish, has all but disappeared, going from a pre-BP oil spill 5 acres to now mere tenths of an acre.
The 8th graders have spearheaded a campaign called the Pelican Cat-astrophe. Their focus is on restoring Cat Island due to the island serving as critical pelican habitat and also as the first line of defense for coastal communities against storm surge. Cat Island has historically been one of the greatest nesting locations for the Louisiana state bird, the brown pelican. Until 2009, the brown pelican was on the endangered species list.
These students are quite persuasive; after presenting to the Plaquemines Parish Council, the Council approved 1.2 million in spending to restore Cat Island. After the 8th graders spoke, Chip Kline from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, confirmed the state’s plans to restore Cat Island. Kline said that the exact amount of funding is contingent on what damage to Cat Island the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) determines is the fault of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Go the Pelican Cat-astrophe website, here!
*This post was edited at 8:15 a.m. on 4/30/15 after comments were received from Melanie Driscoll, Director of Bird Conservation, Gulf Coast Conservation/Mississippi Flyway, National Audubon Society