When thunder roars, go indoors!

Column Article for: Cajun Sportsman
Submitted: June 10, 2014
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter

When thunder roars, go indoors!

Whether you’re out in a boat, near a bayou, at the beach, or just hanging around the backyard … when those summer thunderstorms come drifting along, it’s important to pay attention and to stay safe.

Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are going on at any given time somewhere around the world. That adds up to over 16 million a year! All thunderstorms generate lightning. And with that, each year, just in the U.S., about 400 people are struck by lightning. As a result of those incidents, an average of over 60 people are actually killed by lightning annually and many others are seriously injured, many being left with permanent disabilities.

A flash of lightning can contain over a billion volts of electricity. This charged bolt of lightning is really hot, over 50,000 degrees F, more than five times hotter than the sun’s surface! The super-heated air surrounding a lightning bolt expands and contracts so rapidly that it creates the sound waves we hear as thunder.

Some danger signs to look for that indicate a potential lightning-filled thunderstorm is approaching include dark, towering or threatening clouds, increasing wind, and distant lightning and thunder.

As a thunderstorm approaches prepare to stay safe by:

- Going inside a building or vehicle and closing the windows.
– Staying away from water, plumbing, and anything connected to power, phone, and cable lines.
– Staying low if you can’t find shelter; away from tall trees and open areas.
– Squatting down in a low place with your hands over your ears; not lying down.
– Staying away from water and metal or anything else that conducts electricity.
– If in a boat, heading ashore, avoiding the thunderstorm if possible. (Boats unable to seek safety ashore should be properly grounded.)

Here are a few “Myth Busters” concerning lightning compiled by NOAA and Sea Grant.

MYTH: If it is not raining, then there is no danger from lightning.
FACT: Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

MYTH: The rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being struck by lightning.
FACT: Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. The steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.

MYTH: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.
FACT: Victims of a lightning strike carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately. Apply first aid procedures if you are qualified to do so. Call 911 or send for help immediately.

MYTH: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
FACT: Lightning will strike several times in the same place in the course of one discharge.

Remember … when thunder roars, go indoors! The safest place to go is inside large enclosed buildings. Picnic shelters, sheds, and other smaller shelters don’t provide adequate protection from lightning strikes. If there are no enclosed buildings around, the second best places to go are enclosed metal vehicles such cars, trucks, and vans — but not convertibles, soft-tops, and bikes. After the storm has passed, you should wait at least 30 minutes following the last thunder crack before going back out into the open.

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Alan Matherne is the Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He is also Project Leader for the Louisiana Fisheries Summit and can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

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Cook healthy with delicious and nutritious seafood

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: July 9, 2014
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter

Cook healthy with delicious and nutritious seafood

Seafood is highly nutritious and very beneficial health wise. Most seafood is low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; high in protein; low in calories (a 3-1/2 ounce serving of white-fleshed fish typically has less than 100 calories); and low in sodium. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals and, as a bonus, it’s quick and easy to prepare. Consequently, because fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, the American Heart Association and others recommend eating two 3-1/2 ounce servings of fish a week.

Note that because some fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish can contain mercury, consumption of those fish should be limited for most of us and avoided by some such as pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, and children under the age of 12. Other than that note of caution, seafood products should be considered safe, healthy, delicious, and nutritious sources of high-quality protein.

Don’t overcook your seafood. Fish cooks quickly and should be cooked only until the flesh turns opaque and flakes easily with a fork. If you overcook seafood it will toughen up and lose a lot of its natural flavors. A good rule of thumb to follow when preparing fish is to cook it about 10 minutes per inch of flesh, measured from the thickest part. (Conventional cooking only, not microwaving.)

Seafood can be cooked using a variety of methods besides traditional frying. Why not try poaching, steaming, baking, broiling, sautéing, or microwaving your next fish or shellfish meal? It’s healthier than frying and can be much more flavorful.

Poaching is really easy. Simply bring a seasoned liquid (water, milk, wine, etc.) to a boil then simmer it for about 10 minutes. Next add your fish, cover, and simmer until done.

Steaming is surprisingly simple. It’s especially easy if you happen to have one of those specially designed steaming pots. If not, don’t despair … just use a rack of some sort to suspend the seafood a couple of inches above the boiling water. Cover and steam until done.

For broiling, place your fish on a broiling pan and brush it with a sauce of melted margarine and/or olive oil combined with lemon juice and herbs and spices. Broil 4 or 5 inches from the heat source, without turning, until done.

Sautéing. In a frying pan, heat a little margarine and/or olive oil with a liquid such as water or white wine. Add some chopped mushrooms, green onions, lemon juice, and your favorite seafood. Sauté this mixture over medium high heat until it’s done.

An excellent method of cooking seafood is by microwaving. Just put the fish or shellfish in a microwave-safe dish, add seasonings, and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Cook for about 3 minutes per pound or follow the manufacturer’s directions. It doesn’t get any easier than that, and clean-up’s a cinch!

Herbs and spices can be used in place of salt and can be combined to produce flavorful seafood dishes with a creative flair. If you are not familiar with using herbs and spices, here’s a simple way to get started. Just combine ¼ teaspoon of 1 or 2 herbs and/or spices per pound of seafood. Some common herbs and spices that work well with seafood are: allspice, sweet basil, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, celery seed/leaves, chervil, curry powder, dill seed/weed, fennel seed, garlic powder, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, and thyme.

Other seasonings like garlic, lemon, and wine can be combined with the herbs and spices with interesting results. Some good combinations are basil, marjoram, and oregano; garlic powder and lemon; or parsley and tarragon.

Be bold and creative and see what happens. Spice up your life with seafood! In today’s health conscious society we’re eating foods that are lower in calories, sodium, and fat; and consuming more fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, skim milk products, and low fat protein sources. Seafood fits right in and complements these new health trends. A wide variety of seafood products are available which provide an excellent high protein source that is great for low calorie, low fat cooking.

Here are a few additional facts concerning the healthy aspects of eating seafood from the LSU AgCenter’s publication “Health Benefits of Seafood”:

- A 3 ounce serving of seafood provides 50-60% of an adult’s daily protein needs.
– All seafood is relatively low in fat.
– Most seafood is low in cholesterol except for shrimp, squid and fish roe.
– Seafood also provides the diet with iron, iodine, zinc, niacin, B-complex vitamins and phosphorous.
– Fatty species of fish provide generous amounts of vitamins A and D.
– Fish with bones, like canned salmon and sardines, are good sources of bone-building calcium.
– An average 3-ounce serving of fish cooked without fat has about 85 calories making it a low calorie food.
– Try not to add extra calories by frying or using cream or cheese-based sauces with seafood.

For more information concerning the nutritional benefits of seafood go to LSUAgCenter.com and search for “Health Benefits of Seafood” and download the publication of that name.

Remember, the American Heart Association and others say that seafood is a healthy and nutritious “heart food”. Now, go cook-up and enjoy some healthy and delicious seafood … it’ll do you and your heart a lot of good.

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Alan Matherne is the Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

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Stay safe, be aware of beach dangers

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: May 14, 2014
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter

Stay safe, be aware of beach dangers

Heading out to the beach this summer season? Great, enjoy the fun in the sun, but keep it fun by being aware of and taking proper precautions. Some of the potential hazards that may be encountered at the beach include: lightning, sharks, jellyfish, sunburn, and rip currents. Using a little common sense when confronting these situations will help ensure safe and enjoyable beach ventures.

Lightning. Each year in the U.S. an average of 62 people are killed by lightning. Remember … when thunder roars, go indoors! The safest place to go is inside large enclosed buildings. Picnic shelters, sheds, and other smaller shelters don’t provide adequate protection from lightning strikes. If there are no enclosed buildings around, the second best places to go are enclosed metal vehicles such cars, trucks, and vans — but not convertibles, soft-tops, and bikes. After the storm has passed, you should wait at least 30 minutes following the last thunder crack before going back out into the open and onto the beach.

Sharks. Actually, the risk of being involved in a shark attack is very small. They do occur sometimes though, generally in near shore areas around sandbars. Sharks tend to feed in these areas and sometimes confuse humans with other prey that they are seeking out. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggests following these tips to help reduce your chances of becoming shark bait:
– Don’t swim too far from shore
– Stay in groups — sharks are more likely to attack a solitary individual
– Avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight when sharks are most active
– Don’t go in the water if bleeding from a wound — sharks have a very acute sense of smell
– Leave the shiny jewelry at home — the reflected light resembles fish scales
– Avoid brightly-colored swimwear — sharks see contrast particularly well

Jellyfish. While all jellies sting, not all of them have poisons that hurt people. They should be avoided though, just in case. Be careful around areas with warning signs concerning jellyfish. Also, watch out for the tentacles even if they aren’t attached to the jellies. Suggested first aid for sting wounds is washing the area with vinegar or rubbing alcohol (not water) and sprinkling meat tenderizer on the wound or putting a baking soda and water paste on the sting. Anyone experiencing an allergic reaction should seek medical attention.

Sunburn. Too much sun can spoil the fun! And you might not even realize it until much later, as it can take up to 24 hours before full damage is noticeable. Be sure to take proper precautions including avoiding prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, sporting hats, and applying sun blocking lotions. First degree burns (skin redness and peeling) should be treated with cool baths and bland moisturizers or hydrocortisone creams. Blistering second degree sunburns can be very serious if covering a large area. Symptoms of severe burns include headache, chills, and fever. Medical attention is advised for second degree sunburns.

Rip Currents. Each year over a hundred people drown in rip currents. Just last year four people (one from Louisiana) drowned in rip currents on the Alabama coast. A few years ago (2009), in Grand Isle, a young girl from Baton Rouge was rescued from a rip current by two Houma brothers.

Rip currents are channelized currents of water that flow away from the beach shore out into the gulf or ocean. They’re formed when waves break near the shoreline, piling up water along the shore. The water seeks to escape from the shoreline area and return back offshore. This sometimes results in a narrow stream of water that moves quickly offshore … a rip current. People sometimes call these currents “undertows” or “riptides”, but those terms are not correct and should not be used when talking about rip currents. Rip currents pull people out to sea not under.

Rip currents can be as narrow as 10 to 20 feet or as much as ten times wider than that. Sometimes the water in rip currents can travel very slowly, almost unnoticeable. At other times these currents can flow at speeds of over five miles per hour, faster than an Olympic swimmer can swim.

So, what to do if you’re caught in a rip current? First, don’t panic and don’t try to swim against the current. Rip currents generally only go out a short ways offshore, then pan out. It’s sort of like being caught on a treadmill: no matter how fast you walk forward, you can’t get off. The thing to do is to either quit walking and be pulled off, or step to the left or the right and get off. The same principle applies to rip currents. Don’t swim against them. Either let the current pull you out then swim back, at an angle, to the bank, or just swim to the left or the right of the current, parallel to the shore. Once out of the rip current, then swim back to shore.

A NOAA fact sheet on rip currents suggests that if caught in one:
– Try to remain calm to conserve energy.
– Don’t fight the current.
– Think of it like a treadmill you can’t turn off. You want to step to the side of it.
– Swim across the current in a direction following the shoreline.
– When out of the current, swim and angle away from the current and towards shore.
– If you can’t escape this, try to float, or calmly tread water. Rip current strength eventually subsides offshore.
– If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.

For more information concerning rip currents visit NOAA’s National Weather Service Rip Current Safety website at www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov.

Practice common sense and observe these simple precautions so that you and your family can enjoy a safe and healthy day at the beach. Have a great summer!

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Alan Matherne is the Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

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Warm season wildlife food plots

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: April 16, 2014
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter

Warm season wildlife food plots

Spring is here. And if you’re a hunter or wildlife lover, this season may also bring thoughts of the upcoming fall and winter days afield, and … how to enhance the experience.

By increasing concentrations of wildlife on natural areas through food plot plantings, the likelihood of encountering them are greatly increased. Also, by providing nutritious supplemental food plantings, the health and quality of wildlife can be enhanced.

So, what to plant and when? Here are some warm season (Spring) food plot planting recommendations from Dr. Don Reed, the LSU AgCenter’s Wildlife Specialist.

American jointvetch
April 1 – June 1
Jointvetch is a reseeding legume that will grow on sites too wet to support most other food plot items. Plant at the rate of 10 to 20 pounds of seed per acre on a well-prepared seedbed. Jointvetch requires fertilization at the rate of 200 – 300 pounds per acre of 0-10-20, and soils should be limed if pH is 5.0 or lower. Established plots produce quality grazing from June through November.

Soybeans and cowpeas
May 10 – July 15
Soybeans and cowpeas are among the most preferred food items that deer will use where available. Their high use potential is evident by the fact that small plantings have almost no success for establishment on areas with high deer densities. Seeds can be row planted or broadcast at the rate of 15 – 25 pounds per acre for cowpeas and 30 – 50 pounds per acre for soybeans. Varieties have maturity dates ranging from mid-September to late October. Maturity dates are not of tremendous importance, however, because of the use of both vegetative and seed portions of the plant. Fertilization requirements should be based on a soil analysis; liming is required when pH falls below 6.0.

Corn
April 1 – May 1
Corn is a high carbohydrate food item that deer will readily use upon maturity. It has the added benefit of providing cover for deer late in the summer when standing stalks are “worked over” to obtain seed from the mature ears. Plant at 10 to 12 pounds per acre in 36-inch rows or broadcast at the rate of 12 to 15 pounds per acre on a well-prepared seedbed. A balanced blend of fertilizer such as 13-13-13 is recommended on poorer soils; liming should be performed to bring soil pH between 6.5 and 7.0.

Alyce Clover
May 1 – June 15
Alyce Clover is a warm season legume that is used by deer in the summer and early fall. It holds up well to grazing pressure, unlike most other warm season forages. Alyce Clover provides supplemental nutrients to benefit doe lactation, fawn production and antler development in bucks. It can be drilled at 16 pounds per acre or broadcast at the rate of 15 to 20 pounds per acre. Fertilize at the rate of 200 pounds per acre with 0-14-14 after planting is established. For best results, soil pH should range from neutral to slightly acidic (6.5 – 7.0).

Lab Lab
April 15 – June 15
Lab Lab, a warm season legume, is noted for its tolerance to extremely dry conditions. It is a fast-growing erect plant that is a perennial even though it does not readily reseed. Newly established plantings are extremely sensitive to competition, which makes weed control necessary to achieve desired results. Seed can be drilled at the rate of 5 to 10 pounds per acre or broadcast at 10 to 20 pounds per acre. Fertilize at the rate of 300 pounds per acre with 0-20-20, and establish a soil pH in the range of 6.5 to 7.0.

Milo
April 15 – June 15
Milo or Grain Sorghum is a hardy warm-season annual that white-tailed deer along with many upland game bird species feed upon once seed has established on the plant. Dwarf varieties producing seeds of low tannin content should be chosen for wildlife food plots. Seed should be drilled at 8 pounds per acre in 24- to 36-inch rows, or broadcast at the rate of 12 to 15 pounds per acre. Seed production can reach 5,000 pounds per acre on fertile soils and seed are used over extended periods, making this an excellent planting choice.

Soil tests of the area should be performed before planting and it is recommended that all seed be lightly covered with soil after planting to encourage increased germination success.

Much more information concerning planting and managing food plots for wildlife is available on the LSU AgCenter’s website at lsuagcenter.com. Just search for “food plots” and see what you can find. Also, recommended specific publications that you should find helpful and are available on the site include: “Food Plot Plantings for White-tailed Deer in Louisiana”, “Concepts of Soil Fertility for Hunter Food Plots”, and “Crops for Wildlife Plantings Recommendations, Establishment & Management”.

Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about deer-specific wildlife management, you may want to attend this year’s LSU AgCenter Wildlife Field Day. The event will be held at the Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station near Clinton on Saturday, May 3 beginning at 8:00 AM. Covered at the field day will be new genetics research, identification/nutritional value of understory browse, deer aging using tooth wear, antler scoring, report on the 2013-14 deer season, and what’s on the horizon for controlling feral hogs and other nuisance animals. Cost of the event is $30 if paid before April 25 or $40 after then and onsite at the event. Checks should be made payable to Quality Deer Management Association and mailed to Tammy Bosch at 10114 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. More information about the field day is available from Dr. Don Reed at 225-683-5848 or by going to lsuagcenter.com/news_archive/2014/April/headline_news/Wildlife-field-day-to-be-held-May-3.htm.

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Alan Matherne is the Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He is also Project Leader for the Louisiana Fisheries Summit and can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

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Louisiana Fisheries 2014 — A summit for the Louisiana commercial fishing and seafood industry

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: February 19, 2014
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter

Louisiana Fisheries 2014 — A summit for the Louisiana commercial fishing and seafood industry

The second annual Louisiana Fisheries Summit will held at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center on Wednesday, March 12 and Thursday, March 13. Once again, hundreds of commercial fishermen, seafood dealers, processors and others from across the state will congregate in Houma to participate in the Gulf South’s premier commercial fishing and seafood industry event.

Last year’s event was well received with nearly three hundred people attending the first day and over two hundred the second. Subsequently, due to popular demand, we’ve increased the capacity to be able to accommodate nearly four hundred attendees this year.

Louisiana Fisheries 2014 will provide participants the opportunity to learn about the latest updates, techniques, and programs concerning commercial fishing and seafood production. Two days, two different programs, plus a Trade Show and Dock Day will be provided this year.

The seminars will feature expert speakers from across the country discussing topics including: fisheries/seafood industry status & updates, research & development, compensation funds, sustainability & certification, business development & opportunities, enhancement programs, marketing, refrigeration, financing, shipping, lubricants, fuel flow meters, outboards, professionalization programs, and more.

Held concurrent to the seminars, the trade show will feature organizations and vendors displaying various products and services of interest to those involved in commercial fishing and the seafood industry.

Finally, the summit will conclude with a “Dock Day” on the afternoon of March 13. Modeled after the highly successful agricultural field days, this part of the program will occur in the Civic Center parking lot and will involve actual demonstrations of innovative gear, processes, and technologies including: refrigeration systems, lubricants, LNG & CNG fuel, propane & natural gas engines, fuel flow meters, vacuum packaging, trawling systems, and fishing vessel safety.

In addition to the seminar, trade show, and dock day programs, this event will afford a great opportunity for those involved in the various fisheries and seafood industry sectors to be able to network with one another, make new business contacts, and expand horizons … All with a vision and purpose of increasing business efficiencies and profitability.

Sponsored by Louisiana Sea Grant and the LSU AgCenter, in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Fisheries 2014 is an educational and networking opportunity tailored for and targeted towards individuals involved in Louisiana’s commercial fishing and seafood industry. Registration is free and can be completed by going to LouisianaFisheries.com or by visiting BayouLog.com and clicking on the “Louisiana Fisheries” link. The latest agenda and more information concerning the event can also be found there. Space is limited and available on a “first come, first serve” basis. Therefore, anyone interested in attending this event is encouraged to register early.

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Alan Matherne is the Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He is also Project Leader for the Louisiana Fisheries Summit and can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Fisheries, Seafood, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wetlands are a valuable national treasure

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: January 22, 2014
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant

Wetlands are a valuable national treasure

Once considered wastelands, wetlands are everything but that. They are complex, fragile and finite systems. Wetlands are a valuable national treasure that must be protected so that their benefits can be utilized. What are the benefits of wetlands? A number of beneficial functions of wetlands have been identified, these include:

Physical Protection – Wetlands protect shorelines from wave or storm erosion by breaking up wave and storm energy. They protect downstream areas from the damaging effects of floods. This happens by slowing and temporarily storing floodwaters, resulting in reduced peak flows.

Water Quality Enhancement – As polluted water flows through them, wetlands clean up the water by physically holding the pollutants to plants and bottom sediment and by chemical actions and reactions such as precipitation, breakdown and uptake. Basically they act as biological sewerage treatment plants.

Water Supply – In some areas wetlands serve as storage systems for groundwater. They store water during the wetter parts of the year and release it regularly. This helps to maintain constant stream flows.

Wildlife Habitat – Many species of fish and wildlife depend upon wetland areas as breeding, nesting, rearing, and wintering habitats. Significant portions of federally-listed threatened or endangered animals and plants depend upon wetlands to complete their life cycles.

Food Chain Support – Coastal and wetland areas are important basic food producers. Plant-derived food materials are flushed out to estuaries and other coastal and aquatic areas. This forms the basis of food webs, critical to commercial fisheries production.

Commercial Products – Wetlands are sources of fish and shellfish, furbearers, timber, forage, wild rice, cranberries, blueberries, and other useful materials.

Recreation and Aesthetics – Many people like to hunt and fish, study and photograph nature, go boating, and engage in other outdoor activities in and around wetlands. Other folks simply enjoy being around and taking in the natural beauty that wetland areas provide.

Climatic Influences – Wetlands may be an important part of the global cycles of nitrogen, sulfur, and carbon, especially methane and carbon dioxide, important “greenhouse” gases. Thus, wetlands may actually help control air pollution by removing some of the nitrogen and carbon compounds that are produced through man’s activities.

Some of the services that wetlands provide, such as providing habitat for endangered species, are irreplaceable. Others can be replaced, but a great expense to the public and private sectors.

We can purify polluted waters by treating them in large expensive facilities.

Shorelines can be protected by bulkheads or rip rap.

Increased flood and storm damages could be covered by increased insurance premiums.

Hunting and fishing could be replaced by other forms of recreation.

Yes, these things could be replaced, should our wetlands not be properly protected … but at what cost?

We’ve still got a lot to learn about wetland functions and values and the importance of wetlands to our environmental health and quality of life. Many new challenges lie ahead. Hopefully, our renewed commitment to wetlands protection and restoration will assure the continued generation of the many values and benefits that they provide.

So, remember … just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one generation’s perceived wasteland is another generation’s acknowledged national treasure – our wetlands!

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Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

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Naturalists of Louisiana

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: December 18, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant

Naturalists of Louisiana

That’s the theme of the 2014 Tidal Graph Calendar produced by and available now from the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP). Each year BTNEP produces a Louisiana-flavored, full-color calendar that highlights the estuary’s unique ecology and history and additionally depicts, graphically, the daily tides for coastal Louisiana.

BTNEP 2014 Calendar

This year’s calendar showcases a number of Louisiana residents known for their outstanding enjoyment and study of nature. Beginning with a short discussion of “What is a naturalist?”, and a description of the new “Louisiana Master Naturalist Program”, the beautifully designed and very informative calendar covers a different Louisiana naturalist each month:

January — Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz (1695?-1775)
February — Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Girault (1716-1795)
March — Louis Jacques Judice (1731-?)
April — Mark Catesby (1682 – 1749)
May — John James Audubon (1785-1851)
June — George H. Lowery, Jr. (1913-1978)
July — Jacob M. “Jake” Valentine II (1917-2000)
August — Edward Avery McIlhenny (1872-1949)
September — John J. Lynch (1914 – 1983)
October — Herbert Clay Dessauer (1921-2013)
November — Percy Viosca, Jr. (1892-1961)
December — Caroline Coroneos Dormon (1888-1971)

Copies of the calendar can be obtained by contacting BTNEP at 985-447-0868 or stopping by their office located at 320 Audubon Drive (105 N Babington Hall, Nicholls State University campus) in Thibodaux. It is also available for download from their calendars site at: http://www.btnep.org/BTNEP/resources/downloads/calendars.aspx.

About the BTNEP … “Established in 1991, the mission of the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Program (BTNEP) is the preservation and restoration of the Barataria-Terrebonne estuarine system, the 4.2 million acre region between the Atchafalaya and Mississippi River basins. The BTNEP strives to rebuild and protect the estuary for future generations through the implementation of a science-based, consensus-driven plan that utilizes partnerships focused on the estuary’s rich cultural, economic and natural resources.”

For more information about the BTNEP you can go to their website at http://www.btnep.org/BTNEP or “Like” them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BTNEP. Also, if you are interested in learning how to support the BTNEP and provide assistance in the work it is doing to help save the Barataria and Terrebonne basins, just go to the BTNEP Foundation’s website: supportbtnep.org.

Want to join the ranks of famous Louisiana naturalists? People with an intense desire to understand the wild plants, animals, and habitats of our state now have a vehicle for satisfying that need. The Louisiana Master Naturalist Program (LMNP) is a new program that provides training to citizen scientists in the many and varied natural sciences associated with the natural resources of the state. The Greater New Orleans chapter kicked off its pilot program in the fall of 2012. Sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, the ultimate vision of the statewide LMNP is to have regional chapters throughout the state. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a “Master Naturalist”, just go to the LMNP website at http://www.louisianamasternaturalist.org and find out more about the program.

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Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Ecotourism, Environment, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Wildlife Management Areas provide outdoor opportunities

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: November 20, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter/Sea Grant

Wildlife Management Areas provide outdoor opportunities

Most states have outdoor areas set aside for public use. Louisiana is no exception with over fifty Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) located throughout the state. These public outdoor recreation areas have been set aside to preserve land as habitat for our native fish and wildlife species. Managed primarily to provide public hunting and fishing access, these areas are also open to non-consumptive activities such as hiking, boating, canoeing, bird watching, and sightseeing. Louisiana’s WMAs are managed by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Louisiana Wildlife Management Areas

Access is open to the public, but permits are required. Person using WMAs for any purpose other than hunting are required to possess a Louisiana hunting license, a Louisiana fishing license, or a Wild Louisiana Stamp. Additionally, hunters will also need a WMA hunting permit. Note that people who are younger than sixteen or older than sixty are exempt from the above. Also, most WMAs require the completion of self-clearing WMA permits, available on-site at various locations throughout the WMA.

Physical access to the sites varies, most have roads and trails for automobile and ATV usage, but some are accessible only by boat. Trails are generally marked indicating vehicle restrictions and some are designated as nature trails for pedestrian use only.
Information concerning our WMAs can be obtained by going to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries WMA site at wlf.la.gov/wma. This is a very comprehensive resource with information concerning all aspects of the areas. Included at the site you will find downloadable maps, area descriptions, and links to hunting and fishing regulations specific to the areas.

Louisiana’s Wildlife Management Areas are a tremendous resource for people who want to enjoy outdoor activities but are limited in their access to private lands. I personally have visited many WMAs and have utilized them for hunting, fishing, hiking, and canoeing. They’re great places to just “get away from it all” for a while and I encourage you to check them out.

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Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Hunting, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Hunter safety tips

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: October 23, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Agent
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter/Sea Grant

Hunter safety tips

With the recent cool fronts coming through, area temperatures are dropping. And with that, many of our area hunters are getting that “itch” and are beginning to make preparations to get outdoors and bag some game. Just remember that in our zeal to get out and take some prey we should not forget to always keep safety in mind.

So that our trips are always successful in terms of a safe and accident-free outing (whether or not we take any game), it is important to brush up on some of the basic hunting safety rules.

First, let’s review the fundamental gun safety rules:
• Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
• Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
• Be sure the gun is safe to operate (bore unobstructed, etc.).
• Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use and unload it immediately after hunting.
• Unload guns before getting into stands, going through fences, and getting around other obstacles.
• Know how to use guns safely.
• Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
• Keep gun safeties on until ready to shoot.
• Know your target and what is beyond it.
• Don’t let the “heat of the moment” hurry your judgment or actions.
• Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
• Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.
• Store guns so that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons (especially children).

The use of tree stands by deer hunters has increased dramatically over the years. This has resulted in more accidents. Here are some tips to help ensure a safe hunt from a tree stand:
• Securely attach the stand no more than 10-12 feet from the ground.
• Use a safety belt to secure yourself to the tree. Harnesses made for this purpose are much safer than a rope. If using a climbing stand, use the belt while climbing.
• Use an equipment haul line to get your unloaded gun or bow and other gear into and out of the stand.
• Keep the tree stand in good working condition. Check it carefully before the hunting season and replace or repair any worn or missing parts. Also, it is a good idea to check it from time to time during the season too.
• Be careful not to fall asleep. This is a common cause of tree stand accidents.
• Never climb a tree after taking medication that makes you drowsy. If you start to feel drowsy and begin to nod off, get down to the ground immediately.
• Make sure that if you are using tree steps, that they are aligned to provide the most possible support and to prevent foot slippage.
• When climbing down, keep your safety belt on.

Finally, understand that safety is as much a “state of mind” as it is a set of principles to abide by. The main thing is to use common sense at all times. If what you’re getting ready to do doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. Take a moment or two to think things out. Think about the consequences of your actions, and then make the right choice. It just might keep you, and your companions, safe and healthy and ready for your next great outdoor adventure.

Good luck afield!

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Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Agent for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Hunting | 2 Comments

Sea Grant blogs provide coastal and fisheries info

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: September 20, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant

Sea Grant blogs provide coastal and fisheries info

Four Sea Grant Program blogs, one Gulf regional and the other three Louisiana-based, provide factual, non-biased information concerning area coastal, fisheries, wildlife, and aquaculture issues.

“BayouLog” is my blog. It provides original articles and information on a wide variety of topics including: aquaculture, coastal issues, crawfish, disaster & emergency, ecotourism, environment, fisheries, gulf oil spill, home & family, hunting, seafood, and wildlife. It can be accessed by going to the site bayoulog.com. The blog can also be subscribed to, resulting in articles being received by email whenever a new one is posted.

“Chenier Ecology” is an occasional column written by Kevin Savoie. Kevin is Sea Grant’s natural resources and fisheries agent based in Lake Charles. This insightful blog is available at www.seagrantfish.lsu.edu/resources/chenier/index.htm and covers a variety of coastal, fisheries, and seafood issues.

“Louisiana Lagniappe” is the online version of a fisheries newsletter written by Julie Anderson. Dr. Anderson is Louisiana Sea Grant’s fisheries specialist. This blog is a great clearinghouse for all of the latest fisheries-related news occurring throughout Louisiana. “Louisiana Lagniappe” is available at louisianalagniappe.wordpress.com. It too can be subscribed to.

“Sea Grant in the Gulf of Mexico” is the blog site for the Gulf regional network of the National Sea Grant College Program. It covers fisheries and coastal news and information relavent to the Gulf of Mexico area. The Sea Grant programs of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi-Alabama, and Florida are university-based institutions that support research, education, and extension to enhance economic opportunities while conserving coastal resources in the Gulf of Mexico region. This blog can be found at gulfseagrant.wordpress.com.

If you are looking to stay up-to-date on news concerning coastal and fisheries issues in the Louisiana and Gulf regions, then these Sea Grant blogs are a great place to start.

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Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Aquaculture, Coastal Currents, Coastal Issues, Environment, Fisheries, Seafood, Wildlife | 1 Comment