Keep Marsh In Mind

The burning Deepwater Horizon rig sinks into the Gulf of Mexico. (Submitted photo)

As outdoorsmen, we rarely live by the adage “out of sight, out of mind.”

It is simply not part of our make-up. Images of hoped-for bucks, big bass or strutting turkeys are burned into our psyche, so deep that even while sitting in church, they can be seen clearly.

When it comes to those outside the outdoor world, "out of sight, out of mind" can cost us dearly. The fact that most of what we do either in the catching and killing of our pursuits is out of sight from those who don’t understand our passions is often a good thing and a bad thing.

There are times when it can be horrendous.

“Out of sight, out of mind” has been playing over and over in my head after spending a couple of days in Venice, La., visiting with guides and charter boat captains about how their livelihoods have changed since BP’s Deepwater Horizon sent 4.9 million barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

That’s been two years ago. Think back to that time, when every night on every news station, oil and its impact to the environment was the lead story all over the world.

All that news surrounded the relentless activity of trying to disperse the oil, in effect put it out of sight and out of mind. BP sprayed dispersants that aren’t legal in its own country, trying to control the scene.

It took months. We were on the show floor of ICAST when the news came that the flood of oil had been capped. There was a resounding applause from the fishing industry.

Months later, the whole fiasco was literally out of sight and quickly becoming out of mind.

The oil, though, is still there, quietly out of sight, underwater and forcing impacts that two years ago the mainstream media was covering to the hilt. Few, if any, reporters are there today.

New Orleans is one of those large cities that rightfully garners much international attention. Long before Hurricane Katrina hit (almost 7 years ago to this date, with another hurricane looming), the Big Easy was a U.S. city of historical significance, like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. For most, though, New Orleans is where Louisiana stops.

Check out images of the disaster and cleanup efforts

Venice, Grand Isle and a dozen other little hamlets are as much as 1 ½ hours south of New Orleans city limits. So, again, these are places where eyeballs get sucked into Bourbon Street, rather than the marsh: Out of sight, out of mind.

Outdoor, for the next week or so, will be providing a look at some of those impacts and how they are affecting a marsh that is said to be the “fastest-disappearing landmass on earth.”

Think about what you see consistently on the mainstream news. Icebergs, obviously above the water and in sight, are melting at a rate that creates alarm by extremists and yawns by others.

Further south, though, we have the “fastest-disappearing landmass on earth” and no one is noticing. Seems a redfish and speckled trout (both out of sight and underwater) don’t strum the heartstrings like a polar bear looking for a firm sheet of ice.

The impacts are there and becoming scary. Take a look at the photo galleries that accompany this series. There are images of white poles that have marked the retreat of the marsh for the past two years. Prior to the oil spill, we were losing marsh at the rate of about two and half acres per hour.

The oil spill has exacerbated that loss and the scene is graphic. Take a look some of the photos that show the gill plates of the fish that two years ago were as white as the ice at the polar cap. Today, they are turning as black as the oil spilled there. Some species of fish have just left.

Still, the amazing thing is the Louisiana Marsh just keeps rocking along as the de-facto best fishery in the world. There is simply no place like it, even after catastrophic Katrina and an oil spill, the fishing, at least for the moment, is better than anything you can experience the world over.

That is the overall point. Because of those two tragedies, a lot of folks have ceased coming to visit. That is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Of all the places that sportsmen should visit and know about, the Louisiana Marsh is at the top of the list. We can’t afford for it to continue to be out of sight and out of mind.

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