Like rain forests and coral reefs, wetlands are some of the most beneficial ecosystems in the world, but Louisiana wetlands are disappearing at a rate of roughly the size of a football field every hour. The world counts on the Louisiana coastline for seafood, hurricane buffer, and bird habitat, and the loss has already launched massive economic and environmental problems. Then the Deepwater Horizon exploded in April 2010, gushing 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In Good Company had been volunteering in Louisiana since 2008, but in 2011 and 2012 we shifted our focus from New Orleans to the Gulf Coast.
We teamed up with Restore the Earth Foundation and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries to help reestablish wetlands. Over two weeks, we transported thousands of Gulf Saver™ Bags—filled with over 150,000 pounds of soil and oil-eating microorganisms—from the mainland to boats, and from boats to the Mississippi “Bird Foot” Delta an hour off shore. There, we pinned the bags to sandy spits of land, sliced them open, and planted more than 30,000 native plants, including mangroves and Spartina grasses.
When we weren’t ankle-deep in sand and Avicennia marina saplings, we studied the declining coastline from a seaplane, bunked down in fishing cabins, chowed down at local fish fries, and danced all night with the Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys band. Over time, the 9.5 acres we planted have taken off, expanding 821% at last measure, to 78 acres. And not a minute too soon. Since 2012, the Gulf Coast has weathered multiple tropical storms (Karen, Bill, Cindy) and hurricanes (Harvey and Nate), but our 78 acres are holding strong, and growing!
“In Good Company brought multiple corporate stakeholders together, committed to doing more than conserving what’s left of our environment—they committed to restoring what we have lost. In Good Company demonstrated visionary leadership when climate action is so critical.”
Impact/In Good Company Volunteers
“I had no idea when I went there about the impact of the oil spill on the Gulf Coast. I had no concept of the impact on the food situation, particularly Gulf Coast shrimp, and not just on the shrimp themselves but on the livelihood of people who fish for shrimp. So when I came back I started looking only for Gulf Coast shrimp because I realized that by buying shrimp sourced in Asia, I was neglecting people right here in this country who needed work.”
“The person I was just met the person I want to be.”
“An obvious pivotal moment was when we finished the planting and did a sweep of the island together. That really drove home how many bags we had planted, how much land and wetlands last year’s group had created (and that withstood Hurricane Isaac), and how all this was possible from a hardworking team.”