Bayou cleanup efforts pay off
Breaux Bridge – When Blake Couvillion first started wrestling debris aboard his little jonboat a year and some months ago, there were ugly muddy mountains of trash on the bank at the end of the day.
Couvillion – who founded Cajuns for Bayou Teche and now heads up The TECHE Project, an umbrella organization that includes the Tour du Teche canoe and kayak race as well as Cajuns – was dumbfounded after last Saturday’s cleanup effort.
“It is like night and day,” he said, looking at the relatively paltry stash accumulated by the boat ramp in Parc des Ponts de Pont
“It’s like now we’re doing maintenance to keep it clean,” he said.
Couvillion now operates off of a converted party barge, the St. Micael, and he is joined by a neighbor, Shane Seneca and by the Breaux Bridge Kiwanis Club, which pioneered bayou cleanups in the Breaux Bridge area years ago.
With the Sept. 17-19 Tour du Teche drawing racers from all over the country, the pressure is on to present the Teche Country in its pristine beauty and antebellum charm. Couvillion hopes their combined efforts will serve as a model for frequent cleanup sweeps all along the 125-mile bayou from top to bottom.
The formula that has been so successful is to announce a cleanup and call for volunteers. People come from all around the area in motorboats, paddle boats, and without boats, hopping aboard with others and helping to scoop junk out of the water with nets and grabbers.
Also crucial in improving the condition of the bayou are the sheriff’s offices of St. Martin and St. Landry parishes, which worked together to clear debris-trapping log jams from under the bridges, and Keep St. Martin Beautiful, and St. Martin and St. Landry parish government, which has hauled off those mountains of trash after several organized cleanups.
Saturday’s effort was also supported by the Acadiana Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc., which provided lunch for the volunteers, and Baby’s Coffee of Breaux Bridge, with a breakfast of doughnuts and coffee.
For more information about organized cleanups on Bayou Teche, check out www.techeproject.com.