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Woodlands Plantation

We visited the Woodlands Plantation this afternoon where we learned about the restoration and the historical purposes the buildings served. The original plantation was created in 1834 about ten miles away from its current resting place. The buildings that were reconstructed and preserved included Spirit Hall, the original plantation house, and the original slave quarters:

On the plantation we observed alligators that live on the land year round. The biggest one came out and seemed a bit curious about us too, with a little  coaxing  from Foster, the owner and preservationist of the land and area:

Foster also discussed his observations of the now plentiful black-bellied-tree ducks, which were not present in the area until about ten years previously. This invasive species is indicative of climate change, and can be found crowding the levees across the pond pictured above.

We also enjoyed a a crawfish boil, as seen below:

It was many of our first times enjoying this cultural activity, and the setting couldn’t have been more beautiful.

Swamp Day

We began the day with an in-depth overview of the different plants we will have to be working with and identifying for the rest of the trip. We talked about Bald Cyprus, an important species of tree present in wetlands. These trees have been experiencing multiple challenges; some are caused from the hurricane and some are from anthropogenic impacts. The pictures display the sharp contrasts in the tree’s health:

The top picture is of a typical, healthy Bald Cyprus that support the wetlands, while the bottom picture shows a clearly warped tree.

Eye Opening

In order to summarize the day on all levels I would use the phrase “eye opening.” We started the day off early this morning on a mission to better understand the devastation that swept through New Orleans by visiting the Lower Ninth Ward, a heavily impoverished area that has not recovered even 13 years after Hurricane Katrina. As we drove into the ward, I could feel the sense that things were incomplete. My feelings were confirmed when we looked through pictures comparing the densely packed homes present before the Hurricane to the sprinkled homes built by relief groups after the disaster. The lack of resources and the traumatic experience combined with the Federal Government’s use of scapegoats convinced people to not return. I quickly realized I am only breaching the surface of what people have experienced.

We walked through the French Quarter during he later half of the day. I explained CSUCI’s commitment to restoring wetlands to curious shop owners and received open gratitude and thanks for our efforts. It is truly amazing to be supported by the local people, and I am eager to share my support as well.

We’re Here!!

Wow! The only word that can describe this very long but exciting day! We’ve been here less than 12 hours, but I feel I have experienced so much. From trying alligator(!!!) to enjoying some local jazz with the rest of the class; this trip definitely has avenues of new opportunities that I’m so excited to take part in.

Day 1:Done!