LDWF, volunteers collect loads of trash from Atchafalaya Basin

Lynn Bayard was headed to fish Friday morning (April 22) in the Atchafalaya Basin when he saw a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) crew handing out crawfish sacks to volunteers to help clean up the waterway.

The New Iberia resident changed his fishing plans, then grabbed some sacks and headed off into water, returning several times, collecting a total of seven sacks full of trash.

“This was very disappointing. So much trash is out there,” Bayard said. “I mean I filled seven bags in just 45 minutes. This is amazing and sad.”

Bayard was among a group of volunteers and LDWF staff that went out from the boat launch near the Atchafalaya (Basin) Welcome Center in Breaux Bridge scooping up paper, cans, tires, barrels, propane tanks, signs and variety of other items from the water. The effort is part of the ongoing statewide Love The Boot Week beautification and litter clean-up campaign.

“It is so disheartening to see this kind of trash in what should be pristine waters,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet, who participated along with his LDWF staff and volunteers in the clean-up effort. “We call this the Sportsman’s Paradise, but this kind of stuff (pointing to the garbage he had collected) robs our state of the beauty that makes this area so special.

“It was good to see the volunteers who were so passionate about helping with the clean-up,” he said. “Everyone should follow their lead.”

LDWF personnel have been picking up trash across the state this week, collecting several tons of debris from waterways and miles of wildlife management areas.

Friday’s effort was a special event in a location selected by LDWF as a troublesome site where volumes of litter is intentionally tossed or flies out of truck beds on the Interstate 10 highway and boats in the water.

John Hawkins and Malcolm Spillers, Jr., from Baton Rouge, were about to put their boat into the water, but saw the LDWF volunteer tent and decided to take a couple sacks with them.

“Yeah, this is something everybody should do,” Hawkins said. “I understand what you are trying to do. We appreciate it.”

LDWF provided volunteers, who brought their boats, with crawfish sacks for litter collection, water, sunblock and personal flotation devices, along with shirts provided by the Love The Boot program.

LDWF’s clean-up was assisted by the Atchafalaya National Heritage Program, Love The Boot, Keep Louisiana Beautiful, the William C. Schumacher Family Foundation, City of Henderson Mayor Sherbin Collette, Kern’s Landing and the Department of Tourism’s Atchafalaya Welcome Center.