Daily archives "March 20, 2019"

5 Articles

Flying NOLA: Using Drones to Capture Southern Louisiana Deltas

Drones are a vital tool for the future of land management and assessment. At CSUCI, the ESRM program prides itself in the use and practice of using UAVs, or drones, to capture important coastal ecosystems. In this capacity, we flew over the Mississippi Delta to survey wetland degradation and rehabilitation on various barrier islands and marshes. Richie Blink, of Delta Discovery Tours, is in need of new, updated maps and aerial imagery to better understand coastal changes over time.

Drone pilots included myself and fellow ESRM students Walker Santos and Nick Cooper. While drones provide relatively quick “plug and play” accessibility, they are not without their fair share of trouble shooting necessities. While deployed in the field, we encountered problems with linking the RC to the drone, mobile landing sites, and signal loss. Despite these issues, we were able to capture video of our stop sites and the surrounding landscape. The positives of using drones include the instantaneous deployment and video capture, as well as the range of flight of both lateral distance and elevation. Drones are a much needed technology in visualizing our coastal wetlands and the opportunity to fly these areas is one to not be overlooked or taken for granted.

-Matt, Walker, Cooper

Barrier Islands along the Louisiana Coast

Today we visited a barrier island along the coast of Louisiana. Barrier islands are man-made islands built to protect the coast from rising sea level due to storm surges. They are built by digging sediment from the mouth of the Mississippi river and piling it along the coast creating an island composed of sad dunes.

Dune vegetation is planted on these islands to help stabilize the sediment and begin establishing an ecosystem that will act as a “natural speed bump” during storm events.

Barrier islands are relatively easy to upkeep and are a very effective way of protecting the coastline and the city behind it.

Swamp Tour

Today Dayana, Philip, and I learned, about the impacts of sea/water level rise and the decrease in land mass. Water rise in Louisiana is a serious issue that is at an incline everyday. The regulation in Louisiana is not enforced like it should be which puts challenges on the wetlands of the state. Wetlands are a beautiful, historical and cultural part of Louisiana. So loosing the magnificent wetlands would be heartbreaking to their community. Since Louisiana, is prone to hurricanes it’s very important that they find ways to protect themselves from the storms. Wetlands are a barrier against the hurricanes and help to prevent them from being as powerful as they can be. They also contain many habitats for many species that need wetlands to survive. We need to start looking at the decrease in wetlands due to water level rise as a real issue and we should all be doing our parts in climate change so we can stop water level rise.

Nippy the Nutria

By Tara and Ralph

On our tour of the Mississippi River we learned about the nutria rat. This species of rat was introduced to Louisiana for fur trade in the 19th century. The nutria were accidentally released into the wild when a hurricane destroyed their holding pens and the nutria escaped. They are now invasive to New Orleans and because there are so many of them negatively affecting the ecosystem, a law was placed to control the problem. When a rat is killed, the tail can be cut off and the hunter can get 5 dollars per tail as an incentive for hunting the rats.

The Captain shared this picture of his catch of invasive nutria .

Our tour guide recollected the time he captured one. While hunting the “nutra”-as he calls it, he ended up killing a mother nutria rat and one of its babies was left behind. He felt bad for the little critter, so he stuffed it in his boot, took it home, and nursed it to health with a milk. The rat he describes as friendly. It runs around the house and and answers to “Nippy” or “MAHHH!!”. He has the pet rat named Nippy to this day. Although he loves his pet rat, he still goes hunting for nutra and does his part to help decrease the nutra population, so that the ecosystem can get back into order.

Dazed and Not-So-Confused

Hurricane Katrina may have been 13 years ago, it is still part of the psyche that makes up New Orleans. The environmental reporter, Mark, we had talked and listened to was very informative. It was also very sobering as his slide show illustrated the scars that this very preventable disaster had played out. As I’ve heard many times now, it wasn’t a natural disaster, but a man-made one. At the 17th Street Pump Station, these generators may be one of the few things that will make or break the sustainability of keeping New Orleans afloat, the engineers themselves said they would last for five days in the eve of a 100 year event. But is it enough? As we’ve seen lately, climate change has made this unpredictable and arrogant. What will it take for people to actually prepare for worst, like a 500 year event that some believe is inevitable in our era, happens and we’re caught with our pants down again?