Cajuns lead clean-up of Teche headwaters
Port Barre – Two clothes driers. Two washing machines. One hot-water heater. Two and a half stoves. Three and a half air conditioners. Three TV sets. Six refrigerators.
A dozen 55-gallon drums. Six automobile wheel rims. A dozen tires. Two vehicle gas tanks. Two propane tanks. Several barbecue pits.
A riding lawnmower.
One bedspring, seven chairs, about 180 square feet of sheet metal, fathoms of barbed wire, a set of metal stairs, metal pipe, PVC pipe, a wheelbarrow, brooms, mops, a fire extinguisher, 61 trash bags bulging with loose garbage, and the proverbial kitchen sink.
That’s just a partial inventory of the junk pulled by hand out of the headwaters of Bayou Teche here on May 8 by the crew of the St. Michael and volunteers in skiffs, jonboats, canoes and kayaks.
Cajuns for Bayou Teche was joined in the effort by the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission, St. Landry Parish Government, St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Landry Parish Solid Waste, the Town of Port Barre, Port Barre Volunteer Fire Department, Port Barre Lions Club, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Acadiana Resource Conservation and Development.
St. Landry Parish Government provided a grapple truck and operator, which greatly facilitated the removal of the heavier items from the boats at the landing.
“We are excited so many residents and organizations have stepped forward to address this problem,” said Blake Couvillion, founder of Cajuns for Bayou Teche and president of The TECHE Project.
Port Barre Mayor Gil Savoy expressed appreciation on behalf of the town and himself personally.
“I can remember as a young boy being able to launch from right here in Port Barre and being able to make it toward the Gulf and it can become a reality again today if we all do our part.”
Don LeBlanc, a long-standing member of the Port Barre Lions Club and the town’s ambassador of tourism, said he welcomes the attention being brought to the bayou.
“This is a problem that has needed to be corrected for some time,” LeBlanc said. “It is about quality of life for our residents and improvements will only lead to an increase in value of property located along Bayou Teche and Bayou Courtableau.”
It’s also a matter of pride as the Teche country gets ready to host canoe and kayak racers from all over the country in an inaugural ultra marathon this September, said Celeste Gomez, director of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission.
“With the Tour du Teche just months away, we have plenty of work to do,” she said. “As one of the most important waterways traveled by our ancestors, we will resurrect that spirit of determination and pride that once flowed here. So we encourage families to join us on Saturday to be a part of this effort from the beginning and share with our youth a wonderful story of preservation and revitalization.”
Tour du Teche starts in Port Barre with the finish line 130 miles downstream in Berwick.
“Cajuns for Bayou Teche has been an important catalyst in inspiring communities along the Teche to see the bayou for the valuable cultural and environmental resources it is, said Kristen Kordecki, Bayou Teche watershed coordinator with Acadiana RC&D.
“Blake Couvillion and Anya Burgess of The TECHE Project have helped set in motion activities that will bring towns together to protect water quality and celebrate the history of the bayou.”
A bayou clean-up is set for Aug. 21, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., from the Breaux Bridge boat ramp in Parc des Ponts de Pont Breaux and sponsored by Cajuns for Bayou Teche and the Kiwanis Club de Pont Breaux.