It seems like these days, everybody is going “green” in one way or another. Car companies are working hard to perfect electric cars, soda companies are recycling aluminum, and these are just a few examples. Lately, even governments are getting into the picture by promoting tourism activities that seek to enjoy natural resources such as swamps, lakes, and forests. This new trend is being called “eco-tourism”.
Louisiana is among the many states promoting activities along its scenic coastline that fall into this category. And while these places may conjure images of pristine beauty, the underlying focus of eco-tourism in Louisiana is helping residents and visitors reach that delicate balance between living in and sustaining Louisiana’s invaluable coastline.
A Brief History
The Gulf Coast is home to many residents (including the famous Cajuns), fishermen and hunters who have spent generations living off the bounty of the land. Additionally, the southern part of the state is home to many nature and wildlife areas such as marshes, swamps, tidal areas and even spillways which are now benefitting from increased efforts at conservation.
In recent years, the Bayou State has been the focus of frequent front-page news. The oil spill and historical hurricanes have finally communicated the need for the preservation of the expansive coastline. The extensive damage recently inflicted upon these areas has been well documented, but it’s not impossible to repair. Many changes have been implemented in the usage of the coastline, and they have provided invaluable solutions to a greener future.
What Steps Are Being Taken?
One of the best features of a pro-active tourism effort is that everyone can get involved. Residents, workers and travelers alike can each take steps to actively preserve the Bayou State by taking a few simple steps:
• Conservation Efforts: Around the country, activists are successfully pushing for governments to protect nature and wildlife areas for the protection of these delicate assets. For instance, in 2002 the Creole Nature Trail in Calcasieu Parish was upgraded to an “All American Road” to provide it with the maximum amount of protection. This move has resulted in an increased interest in tourism for that area.
• Education and training: There are many new programs that are helping local tour guides and operators adjust their current practices in a way that allows for the sustaining of the local environment. The same can be said for many industries that operate on or near the Gulf Coast.
• Creating awareness: By introducing new ways of thinking, local residents, visitors, and industries can work together to help create subtle changes that can preserve the coastline and its resources.
The oil spill spurred an intense investigation of preventative measures that would protect the environment. While the clean-up is nearly complete, experts search for new ways to prevent this level of damage from happening again. Other industries are under close observation for weaknesses that harm the environment to help strengthen the longevity of the coast.
There is much to see and do in the Bayou State. From the swamp tours to visiting the plantation homes, the history, culture, and food, preservation the key focus of the area. Visitors are encouraged to indulge in these fabulous attractions as a way of stimulating the economy and thus allowing local residents and industries to invest in new ways to help sustain the coastline.
A few things you can do include:
• Take a tour! Getting out and supporting these organizations and sites demonstrates support and interest and is the best way to help fund eco-friendly programs.
• Talk to your local representative. There are many ways to be involved in this process. Contacting local representatives is a great place to start.
• Ask questions. Learn how to implement a greener way of life.
• Think green. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Take care of the wonderful environment available.
Many tour guides are more than happy to explain how they have incorporated eco-tourism in Louisiana along the coast how it will help preserve these great nature-friendly outdoor travel opportunities for many generations to come.