Bayou Lafourche Cleanup - Annual Event at BTNEP

Cleanup Bayou Lafourche Annual Event
March 11, 2017 from 8am-12pm.

Clean Up Bayou Lafourche, Projected to clean up 106 miles of the bayou from Donaldsonville to Leeville. We need you to help with this HUGE event.

Sign up NOW to volunteer for the 2017 Bayou Lafourche Clean up!

Due to inclement weather conditions, BTNEP’s 2016 Bayou Lafourche Cleanup event was cancelled.

Thanks to all volunteers who have helped us in past years!

Clean up results are in!

Over 1000 resident volunteers took part in the event by collecting trash along the bayou side and with boats in the water. The volunteers picked up trash for three hours and collected over 30,309 pieces of trash. Items were divided into five categories. The results are as follows:

  1. Shoreline/Recreational (bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans, plastic eating utensils, plates and cups, food packaging, Styrofoam, etc.) - 22,409 items
  2. Fishing and Boating (bait containers, buoys, buckets, ice chests, oil bottles, light bulbs, rope, strapping bands, crawfish and crab traps, etc.) - 3,868 items
  3. Smoking (cigarettes, lighters, cigar tips and tobacco packaging) – 2,479 items
  4. Medical/Hygiene – 76 items
  5. Dumping Activity (appliances, batteries, building materials, car parts, drums and tanks, tires etc.) – 1,477 items

Unusual items included: four microwaves, six televisions, a bird feeder, an aquarium, typewriter, two riding lawn mowers, toothbrushes, two boats, a credit card, $1 bill and a kitchen sink.

The biggest problem areas were around bridges and businesses where people are using the bayou as dumping grounds.

BTNEP would like to thank all the site captains and volunteers who took the time to participate in this event. The program is proud to be a part of such an outstanding community of environmental stewards.

Final Results Presentations from previous years.

What’s in the Water You Drink?

after the cleanupI’ve never understood how people could callously throw trash on the ground or in the water without thinking that it was wrong to do so.  I surely can’t understand why anyone would throw their garbage in their own drinking water.  What can be going through the mind of these people, the one’s trashing up our environment?  Maybe that’s the point…they aren’t thinking at all.  Whatever the reason, the folks at Keep America Beautiful, Inc. in a 2009 study tell us that 17% of people in public places will litter and that 83% will search for a proper receptacle to throw their trash.  So, at least according to this study, most people in fact do respect the environment at least enough not to defile it with their garbage.

BTNEP wanted to create an event that focused attention on the litter problem.  We chose Bayou Lafourche as an example because it spans several parishes in our national estuary and it is the source of drinking water for over 300,000 people in Ascension, Assumption, Lafourche, and Terrebonne Parishes.  We knew that we would need a lot of help to tackle all 106 miles of Bayou Lafourche, so we put out a notice to see if we might get a few volunteers to help with the cleanup.  We were absolutely stunned and beyond pleasantly surprised when over 1200 folks of all ages volunteered to be part of the half day trash pickup!  We also received generous financial help from Keep Louisiana Beautiful and the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District, as well as support from the Nicholls State University Biology and Geomatics Departments, and whole host of cities, parishes, corporations, and individuals too numerous to name.

So, armed with our small army of volunteers, on March 31, 2012, the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program held the first annual BTNEP Cleanup Bayou Lafourche event.  The event was designed to remove trash from 106 miles of Bayou Lafourche in a three-hour time span.  We held a series of workshops where Alma Robichaux, BTNEP Education Coordinator, discussed with the site captains plans for the half-day cleanup.

After the cleanup, the Nicholls State University Geomatics Class calculated the results of the trash removal from tally sheets used by our Site Captains.  A public presentation was given on May 10 revealing the results.  Over 1200 volunteers collected 17.97 tons of trash, averaging about 350 pounds of trash per linear mile along the bayou.

this came out of the water in bayou lafourcheThe type of trash removed from the Bayou was a big source of surprise to most people. The BTNEP volunteers removed over 40,000 pieces of trash and 1,269 different types of discarded items not usually considered “litter”.  These dumped items including 32 appliances, 31 batteries, 659 building materials, 268 car parts, 18 fifty-five gallon drums, 260 tires and 1 lawn mower/tractor.

Other items included 7,540 plastic bottle, 3,455 glass bottles, 3,853 cans, 4,219 food-packaging items, 3,193 Styrofoam items, 3,726 cigarettes, 659 syringes, and 295 oil bottles.

More unique and unexpected items consisted of bowling balls and other sporting equipment, bike frames, fire crackers, an ammunition canister, fiberglass insulation, power wheels, a safe, a mail box, street signs, cell phones, billboards, a whole water heater, a butane bottle, an MRE, and half of a car!

Besides being a provider of water for four parishes, Bayou Lafourche also serves as a recreational resource for residents and visitors.  The Bayou is an excellent place to fish, crawfish, kayak, and canoe or just to enjoy nature.  

Bringing awareness regarding the importance of keeping Bayou Lafourche clean to the public has become a major goal of the BTNEP. We feel that if we can get people to see Bayou Lafourche for what it could be—a stream with a rich history of great beauty and importance to this region—then it would be easy to have them treat the rest of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary with the respect it deserves.  

Littering has become a major problem in Louisiana and just knowing that trash is sitting in a water body or on the ground in areas that provides so much enjoyment to so many is truly baffling.  Most of us consider these beautiful areas as treasured gifts. With a response from over 1200 volunteers for the Bayou Lafourche Cleanup, we know that most of you agree that treating our region with the respect that all gifts deserve is an obligation that we all share.

We will be forever grateful for the enthusiastic support of all the good folks that volunteered to be site captains and cleanup crew members and corporate sponsors of the Bayou Lafourche Cleanup.  As is true with most of the projects we do, we could not have done this without the help of you, our partners!

Kerry M. St.Pé, Program Director Emeritus
Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program

Volunteer for our next clean up!
March 11, 2017.

Last clean up dates:
March 12, 2016
March 14, 2015
March 15, 2014
March 2, 2013
March 31, 2012

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