Heart of Louisiana: Lost Lands

Heart of Louisiana: Lost lands
Updated: Nov. 2, 2017 at 10:33 PM CDT
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(WVUE) - Most of the cypress giants are gone, but the huge stumps give you an idea of what this area was like before the largest trees were cut for timber.

"I hope that people just see how beautiful and powerful it is," said Chris Staudinger.

Staudinger leads group of kayakers through the Maurepas Wildlife Management Area about 25 miles west of New Orleans.

"Whether it's the animals or the birds or the eagles nest or whatever, that this place is a very powerful place," he said.

But before anyone gets near a boat, there is an hour-long briefing on the challenges facing Louisiana's wetlands.

"How many of you know that right now you're sitting on the fastest sinking large coastal landscape on the planet?" asked Bob Marshall.

Marshall is an outdoor writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has covered environmental issues

"So when you put a levee on a wetland, the protected side is eventually going to subside," he said.

Marshall's wife, Marie Gould, operates Lost Lands Environmental Tours.

"You understand it a lot better when you see it, so I just wanted to provide a place where people could go to actually learn it and see it and understand how it works," Gould said.

Today these paddlers are tourists from Sweden, Minnesota, Albuquerque and Denmark

"I had no idea that this place was disappearing, so I think that was the most surprising thing," said Henrik Schwarz. "I guess this really feels like being in a zoo. Almost everything like buzzes and tickles - it's interesting."

"This waterway being blocked right here is a good example of accretion, which is the natural thing that happens when sediment piles up," Staudinger said.

"One of our goals is actually to reach people with voices louder than our own," Gould said. "What's happening in South Louisiana doesn't just affect South Louisiana. It affects the rest of the country and even probably the rest of the world.

Gliding through the cypress-tupelo swamp sitting at water level makes you feel more connected to the plants and animals. It's a relaxing trip that fills your senses with the sights, the sounds and the natural beauty, and makes it easier to see why these wetlands need to be saved.

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