Green + Eco-Travel

Travel's Most Endangered Places

by Peter J. Frank

LOUISIANA'S COASTAL SALT MARSHES

Where: Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana

What's at stake: Just what is a coastal salt marsh, you might ask yourself, and why should I care? Well, the marshes fringe the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi, and they act as a buffer, protecting New Orleans and other coastal towns from hurricanes and storm surges. And you know what else? They're beautiful, hosting your fantasy image of the bayou—cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss, elegant water birds, wide horizons. Thanks to clear-cutting of cypress forests to manufacture mulch, ill-advised flood control projects by the Army Corps of Engineers, and other human activity, Louisiana is estimated to lose over 25 square miles of delta wetlands to the sea each year.

Get thee to: The town of Lafayette, an ideal jumping-off point for visiting the Atchafalaya Basin, in south central Louisiana. You'll find cypress swamps, gators, some of the best fishing in America, and fantastically spicy Cajun food. After your trip, visit nearby New Orleans, the very prize that these shrinking wetlands are struggling to protect.

For more information:
The Sierra Club's Louisiana Chapter

Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission
Tel: 800 346 1958 (toll-free)

NEXT: A mountain to melt your heart >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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