By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation
Next in our Faces of the Delta series, you will meet Captain Lambert: founder of Cajun Fishing Adventures, charter boat captain, lifetime South Louisiana resident and coastal restoration advocate.
Name: Captain Ryan Lambert
Location: Buras, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana
Tell me about your connection to south Louisiana. I am South Louisiana! I was born here. I love the culture, the people, and the outdoors. I live and breathe it. I grew up in Luling and run Cajun Fishing Adventures–one of the top five hunting and fishing lodges in North America.
What does south Louisiana mean to you? South Louisiana means a different way of life. It is culture-oriented. People live off the land and make their living from their hands. They share with others in the area. It’s unique.
What are your favorite things about the area? My favorite thing is accessibility to an abundance of outdoor activities. Nature is so vast here–we have 41% of our nation’s wetlands.
How has coastal land loss impacted your life? When I think about it, it brings a somber feeling to see what has happened to the richest estuary in North America. It makes me sad that nothing has really started to fix it in 30 years. We still have the top fishing in North America, but I’ve watched it decline over the years at a rapid rate. It saddens me to know the next two or three generations won’t be able to see what I’ve seen.
Then there is Hurricane Katrina–I had 24 feet of standing water in my fishing lodge. It put me out of business for nine months. The oil spill was a lot worse than Katrina for me. I could rebuild after Katrina, but the oil spill is impacting my business. Business was down 94% last year and 75% this year. I’ve had to sue BP. Really, everyone had to sue in my industry No one was made whole.
Why do you think coastal restoration efforts are important? Coastal restoration efforts are important because it can bring back a national treasure–the richest fishing industry in North America. It is a simple task; Mother Nature made it–you just have to release the Mississippi River back into the delta to restore the wetlands. Doing this tackles the coastal land loss, the dead zone, and reduces greenhouse gases. Losing the wetlands affects everything in the ecosystem. Everyone is connected to this land. For instance, if you’re hunting ducks in Canada, you’re impacted. Without the wintering habitat, it goes. The shrimp, the crabs, the oysters–they go.
What obstacles do you see hindering restoration? The Army Corps of Engineers and oystermen.
What do you fear losing if we don’t take action to restore coastal Louisiana? I fear losing Louisiana. We’ve already lost one-fourth of Southeast Louisiana. It won’t be long before we lose New Orleans because there are no wetlands left to protect us. We’ll lose a national treasure if they don’t get going with it soon.
What should people around the country know about efforts to rebuild New Orleans and surrounding communities and protect this area from another powerful storm that they don’t know right now? People need to understand how they are connected to the Mississippi River Delta. Most people don’t realize that if we lose the navigation route along the river due to the coastal land loss, everyone will be impacted because of the shipping implications. It will cost the nation billions of dollars. Our wetlands save the nation money in storm surge and infrastructure protection as well as wildlife habitat.