Get Outdoors Louisiana-Style

New Orleans is a popular travel destination, but if you stick to the city, then you miss a big part of what makes Louisiana’s Mississippi River Delta so amazing: the marshes and the swamps surrounding the city. Sadly, those rich and beautiful wetlands are quickly disappearing.

Wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta
Wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta near near Bay Denesse. Photo: kdw/National Wildlife Federation
Just in time for Great Outdoors Month, National Wildlife Federation Vice President, Andy Buchsbaum, joined the Louisiana staff for two days to explore the wetlands of the Mississippi River Delta by car, boat and plane to see the loss for himself.

NWF Vice President, Andy Buchsbaum, and Gulf Restoration Program Director, David Muth, explore the marsh by boat. Photo: kdw/National Wildlife Federation
It was a beautiful day as we explored the eastern side of the Mississippi River where the river runs into the wetlands. Our in-house scientist took the opportunity to check sediment cores, and the core showed that the muds of the Mississippi are the source of the newly created wetlands.

Staff Sedimentologist, Alisha Renfro, inspects the sediment core with Maura Wood. Photo: kdw/National Wildlife Federation.
Though we marveled at the sights and sweet smell of the marsh, the real excitement occurred in the evening in a small pond near the river where we had an (uncomfortably) close encounter with a monster gator.

Wild female alligator in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. Photo: kdw/National Wildlife Federation
The American alligator is considered one of Louisiana’s conservation successes. Alligators were once endangered, but, after conservation efforts, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries now estimates the population has rebounded to nearly two million wild alligators. Safety Reminder: it’s always smart to keep a safe distance between you and alligators, whether you are on foot or in a vehicle.

Aerial view of damaged wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta. photo: kdw/National Wildlife Federation
The following day, Buchsbaum and other staff boarded a small plane to see the wetland loss from the air. While it’s useful to get out in the marsh and swamps, the view from the sky offers a unique perspective that allows you to see the scale of devastating land loss in the Delta.

At the end of his Louisiana adventure, Buchsbaum reflected, “What struck me was how fragile so many of the marshes are now, how much land has been lost, how much more is at risk – and how easy it is to fix this if everybody pulls together.”

Learn more about NWF’s work to restore the Mississippi River Delta and how you can help.