Last Spring, I was asked many thoughtful and sometimes personal questions by Gunpowder River regulars about how my family was affected by the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. As many of you know, my grandfather, after freezing his rear off looking for U-boats in the North Atlantic for the Navy had one of the first steel hulled shrimp boats in the port of New Orleans after WWII. Seven decades later, and two days after the spill, I was getting an update from his daughter, (my mother) in Covington, LA when she related that;
Theaux, It’s a beautiful spring day, I can hear a Mockingbird singing in my Live Oak tree in the backyard and all I can smell is burning oil.
The same day my father called me to tell me that;
Son, I know you’re coming home in a month, but I can’t tell you if we’ll have any oysters left by the time you get here. -I can’t bear to see one more oiled brown pelican.
So one year later, I thought I’d share a letter that a wrote to the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Oil Drilling
My intent was to ask if the commission would consider funding more baseline environmental monitoring of Gulf Coast resources and at the time I wrote that;
As I speak to my family members in Louisiana and how the spill is affecting them, I’ve become increasingly aware that we don’t yet know what we’ve really lost along the Gulf Coast because we currently do not have a pool of accurate, federally supported, baseline environmental monitoring data to rely on. How can we tell BP what we’ve lost if we don’t have the whole picture of what all of our coastal resources are worth?
It was a watershed moment for me. Over 1,100 miles away, I felt a pressing need to do my part for a river system I have based my livelihood on for 9 years. Now I find myself conducting baseline monitoring throughout the Gunpowder watershed to afford it more protection. The spill became the catalyst behind Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER®. One year later I appreciate that many have taken the initiative to reach out to those affected by the spill while the hard-working people in the region are still recovering and rebuilding from the chaos that the Katrina/Rita duo dished out.