General

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Three Terrebonne Men Cited For Harvesting Oysters in Polluted Waters

Release Date: 05/23/2019

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited three oyster fisherman for alleged oyster harvester violations on May 22 in Terrebonne Parish.

Agents cited Luis Zarraga-Flores, 40, Jose Dolores Vega Hernandez, 25, and Manuel Mendoza Vega, 34, all from Houma, for taking oysters from a polluted area.

Agents observed the three subjects harvesting oysters with two oyster scrapers in Bay Antoine in lower Terrebonne Parish.  The area was located in an unapproved polluted location.

Agents seized 15 sacks of oysters and returned them to the water.

Taking oysters from an unapproved polluted area brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each offense.  The men could also face having their oyster harvester licenses revoked by LDWF for up to one year.  The violators could also be sentenced to perform 40 hours of community service and only be allowed to harvest oysters from a vessel that is equipped with a vessel monitoring device for up to one year.

LDWF Office of Management & Finance Earns State Excellence Award

Release Date: 05/23/2019

from left, Gordon Paine, President, Louisiana Quality Foundation, Jack Montoucet, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildl

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Office of Management and Finance was honored with the 2019 Louisiana Performance Excellence Award (Level 1) at the state Louisiana Quality Foundation Award presentation.

It is the first time a state government agency has received the LPEA.

At the event, held May 21 at the Governor’s Mansion, the Louisiana Quality Foundation presented their awards geared toward performance excellence in leadership.

The LPEA (Level 1) is given for demonstrating achievement of award benchmarks that align with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Criteria, an internationally recognized standard for performance excellence initiated in 1987. Applicants were required to submit an Organizational Profile or a written plan for review by a panel of LPEA examiners and judges.

“This recognition is the validation of a staff that is committed to a plan to develop and implement a new vision, and install core values that are focused on the customer and continual improvement striving for performance excellence,” said Bryan McClinton, LDWF Undersecretary for Management & Finance.

LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said, “The award fits into Gov. John Bel Edwards’ push that each state department operate like a business and that it cares for its customers as well as its employees. This is a signature honor for Undersecretary McClinton, his staff and our department.”

The LPEA has three levels of achievement. Montoucet and McClinton said the staff will be working toward earning recognition at the next two levels. “Our success will mean that our staff is fulfilling the needs of our agency and the citizens of Louisiana,” McClinton said.
 

 

LDWF Agents Cite Two Men For Federal Violations in Gulf of Mexico

Release Date: 05/22/2019

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited two men for alleged commercial fishing violations on May 15 in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Agents cited Nghia Van, 53, and Trang Le, 46, both of Boothville La, for violating federal shrimp permit regulations, turtle excluder device regulations and the Endangered Species Act.  Van was also cited for violation of the Marine Mammal Act.

Agents were on patrol in the Gulf of Mexico when they made contact with both subjects who were actively shrimping in the Exclusive Economic Zone south of Terrebonne Parish without possessing a federal shrimp permit.

Upon further investigation, agents found an endangered and deceased loggerhead sea turtle onboard the shrimping vessel.  During questioning, the subjects admitted to dragging their nets continuously for about two hours.  Regulations require skimming vessels to pick their nets up after 55 minutes in lieu of using turtle excluder devices.

Agents followed the vessel into port and seized 1,626 pounds of shrimp.  A search was then conducted on the vessel and two dolphin skulls were found onboard the vessel.

The case has been referred to NOAA Office of Law Enforcement for prosecution.

LEEC eNews Bulletin: Louisiana School Receives National Honor for Environmental and Sustainable Friendly Practices

The U.S. Department of Education today released the names of the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.  Brookstown Middle School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is among the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS). The Louisiana Department of Education nominated Brookstown for the award.
 
“We are proud to count Brookstown Middle School among the nation’s Green Ribbon honorees,” said Louisiana Green Schools Coordinator Brian Gautreau. “This award is a reflection of the state’s commitment to fostering healthy and productive learning spaces for all students—present and future—by reducing our impact on the environment and promoting wellness in our schools and communities.”
 
Across the country, 35 schools, 14 districts, and four postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. 
 
Aquaman would be impressed by the Brookstown aquaponics superheroes. Brookstown’s student-led aquaponics program helps to provide fresh, nutritious lettuce to students and community members. The past two years have produced over 260 pounds of lettuce while engaging students in hands-on STEM learning. Brookstown has also made commitments to reducing environmental impacts and costs through upgrades to their facilities in the past three years, reducing energy consumption by 29 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 27 percent.
 

LEEC eNews Bulletin: Nurdle Patrol Needs Your Help!

What are nurdles? Nurdles are very small plastic pellets used in the manufacture of plastic products (see below).

Nurdle Patrol is a citizen science project lead by the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas. They are looking to gather information about where nurdles are located across Texas and the rest of the Gulf of Mexico, remove the nurdles from the environment, and create awareness about the nurdle issue. Nurdles are small plastic pellets and are the basis of everything plastic. They are small and look like food to animals, and they absorb other toxins in the environment so can be deadly to some animals depending on the toxin concentrations.

You can help. If you want to participate in collecting data, follow the instructions below, and click here for a training video

  • Find the high tide line with nurdles.
  • Collect nurdles for 10 minutes.
  • Write down number of nurdles collected, location, and date.
  • Take a picture of nurdles.
  • Email info to Jace.Tunnell@austin.utexas.edu

LDWF Agents Cite Two Louisiana Men for Turkey Hunting Violations

Release Date: 05/17/2019

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited two men for alleged turkey hunting violations on May 16 in Rapides Parish.

Agents cited David Poston, 31, of Woodworth, and Darrell Cole, 29, of Boyce, for hunting turkey without basic season, big game and turkey hunting licenses, hunting turkey with a rifle, hunting turkey during a closed season and possession of an illegally taken turkey.  Poston was also cited for taking an alligator without a license and during a closed season, taking a bobcat without a basic season and big game hunting license, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Agents were on patrol when they made contact with Poston on Bayou Boeuf off of North Lake Road.  Agents observed blood and turkey feathers in the back of his truck.

After further investigation and questioning, Poston told agents that a turkey was harvested by Cole with a .17 caliber rifle on May 10.  Agents were able to confirm with Cole that he took the turkey illegally, during a closed season and without the proper hunting licenses.  Turkey season closed for this area of the state on May 5.

Poston also admitted to harvesting an alligator on March 26 and another alligator on May 13 without a license and during a closed season.  He also admitted to taking a bobcat on March 22 without a license.

Agents also found Poston in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Hunting turkey during a closed season brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Possession of an illegally taken turkey and taking an alligator during a closed season each carries a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each offense.  Hunting turkey and alligators without a license and hunting turkey with a rifle each carries a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for each offense.  Hunting without basic season and big game licenses each brings up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail.

Possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia each brings up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.

Cole may also face civil restitution for the replacement value of the illegally taken turkey totaling $1,539.  Poston may also face civil restitution for the replacement value of the illegally taken alligators and bobcat totaling $778.

LEEC eNews: Nature-Based Conference, State of the Ocean Webinar and More!

Environmental News

LDWF Monitoring Biological Impact of Bonne Carré Opening

The Bonne Carré Spillway opened recently for a historic second time this year, while the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) continued its biological monitoring of fish and wildlife resources related to the first spillway opening.
 
More specifically, the LDWF is cooperatively monitoring the effects of freshwater inputs from the spillway openings on Louisiana’s oyster, shrimp, and crab resources, as well as potential impacts on federally managed marine mammal and sea turtle populations.
 
LDWF is part of a multi-agency group monitoring the effects of freshwater introduction resulting from the first, and now second, opening of the Bonne Carre’ Spillway. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the lead agency charged with monitoring marine mammals and sea turtles and LDWF has assisted NOAA in this regard.
 
Other entities monitoring the impacts of the spillway opening include the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana State University, and National Wildlife Federation.
 
“LDWF biologists will continue to monitor our fish and wildlife resources, and extend our support efforts to NOAA as long as is needed,” said Randy Myers, LDWF Assistant Secretary for Wildlife.
 
Since Jan. 1, 2019, there has been an increase in sea turtle and marine mammal strandings along the coast of Louisiana. The LDWF has been in constant coordination with NOAA and other partners, assessing the situation and organizing response efforts.
 
LDWF has been responding to strandings, performing necropsies on sea turtle and marine mammal carcasses, reporting stranding response and data collection via photo documentation and stranding response forms, and uploading all necessary information into NOAA's online database. LDWF protocols and standard operating procedures have occurred during this time and will continue as the event continues to unfold.
 
The true impact of the spillway opening on the local fish and wildlife populations won’t be known for months as data continues to be collected and analyzed by both state and federal agencies.
 
Since the first 43-day opening of the spillway ended, LDWF has been studying effects of low salinity on the oyster population in Mississippi Sound. Monitoring will continue as long as salinities remain below thresholds that threaten oyster survival.
 
“It is likely some oyster beds will see an impact, especially if salinities remain low and water temperatures rise,” said Patrick Banks, Assistant Secretary for Fisheries, “but we are confident that the areas will be able to rebound just as Mother Nature intended.”

Student Opportunity

Edgar Veillon Conservation Leadership Corps

The Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) is accepting applications for an exciting program to assist in the development of future conservation leaders in Louisiana, known as the Edgar Veillon Conservation Leadership Corps (EV-CLC). LWF encourages educators to pass this information on to any students that might be interested in applying. LWF is looking for 15 students for its 2019-2020 training class.
 
Students that will be at the undergraduate level (freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors) during the 2019-2020 academic year are eligible to receive expert training to develop leadership skills and techniques to analyze and develop conservation policies. Participants will also gain experience advocating their conservation resolutions at LWF's Annual Meeting in August 2020. Successfully written and presented conservation resolutions could potentially be adopted by LWF to serve as official policies.
 
The deadline for application is May 31, 2019. See the program flyer for more information.

Webinar

The State of the Ocean 2018

Wednesday, June 5⋅1:00 – 2:00pm
 
OneNOAA Science Seminar Series
 
Join oceanographer Dr. Rick Lumpkin, as he presents data collected throughout 2018 to give an up-to-date description of the state of our oceans.
 
 
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (571) 317-3122
Access Code: 571-313-661

Professional Development

Nature-Based Early Learning Conference

July 31-August 3, 2019, Manchester, New Hampshire
 
The Natural Start Alliance's annual conference is the nation's largest professional event for teaching, administration, research, and advocacy in nature-based early learning. Join us for engaging presentations, experiential workshops, site tours, and professional networking with nature-based early childhood professionals from around the country and beyond. 
 
For more information and to register, visit https://naturalstart.org/conference.
 

Lagniappe

How to Become an Environmental Education Advocate

The North American Association for Environmental Education has published a guide for individuals interested in becoming EE advocates. The document is filled with advice and resources to help you gain the confidence to make your voice heard. 
 
 

LDWF's Native Plant Garden

Visitors to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) headquarters building in Baton Rouge have a unique opportunity to enjoy the state’s native plants right on the grounds of the facility. LDWF developed the Louisiana Native Plant Garden at campus headquarters and it’s free for the public to enjoy. 
 
The garden contains more than 160 native plant species grouped into smaller gardens to resemble natural Louisiana habitats providing resources for wildlife in the urban landscape. The garden is about a quarter-acre, making it one of the largest and most diverse native plant gardens in the state. Two interpretive stations and 80 plant label signs have been installed in the Garden to enhance visitors’ experiences.  
 
“This is a great time to visit, as the garden is undergoing a redesign to maximize aesthetics while maintaining a natural appeal in each garden theme,’’ LDWF Botanist Brian Early said. “In addition to a variety of native plants in bloom, those visiting will be able to see the transition between the various garden styles, wild to manicured, allowing visitors to decide which best fits their own landscape.’’ 
 
Developed in 2014, the Garden continues to evolve as staff make improvements, implementing new gardening and design techniques. It’s also a chance to get some ideas for your yard. Using native plants in Louisiana yards and neighborhoods provides many benefits to people, wildlife and the environment. 
 
The garden was recently selected as one of five locations to be visited on the Backyard Habitat Garden Tour hosted by the LSU Hilltop Arboretum. Early and volunteers were present at the Garden to lead tours, demonstrate gardening techniques, discuss applied design theory and share lessons learned with visitors. LDWF hosted 200 visitors during this event.
 
Located in front of the headquarters building, the public is invited to visit the LDWF Louisiana Native Plant Garden to learn about the importance of native plants and celebrate our state’s natural beauty. The LDWF hopes visitors will take pride in Louisiana by adding native plants to their landscapes to create a little wildlife habitat of their own.

 


BUY A PLATE TO EDUCATE

Support the LEEC by purchasing an Environmental Education specialty plate at

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Louisiana Safe Boating Week Set For May 18-24

Release Date: 05/16/2019

The state of Louisiana has issued a proclamation that recognizes May 18-24 as “Safe Boating Week” in Louisiana, which signifies the beginning of the spring and summer boating season.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water during this safe boating week.  Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition.

LDWF Enforcement Division agents will be out in full force as always during the week to perform boating safety checks and driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) patrols.

Each vessel should have enough personal flotation devices (PFD) on board for all occupants and a sober operator.  LDWF regulations also state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26 foot long.  For more boating and PFD regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.

Alcohol use is one of the leading causes of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water.  Alcohol consumption impairs a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  The penalties for DWI on the water are the same as on the road.  Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.

LDWF also wants to remind anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 that they are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower.  LDWF offers these classes free of charge statewide.

For a list of courses, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.  Since the safe boating course’s inception in 2003, over 110,000 boaters have been certified in Louisiana.

In 2018, Louisiana reported 20 boating fatalities.  So far, in 2019 Louisiana has reported five fatalities.

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