Lehrue Stevens unloads a basket of trash they collected May 5 during the Clean Bayou event. Hundreds of pounds of trash and other large debris were collected by people in boats and kayaks to Contraband Bayou cleaner. (Brad Puckett / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 09, 2012 6:14 PM
Last week’s volunteer effort to clean Contraband Bayou resulted in a good news/bad news report card.
As for the positive, the trash collected on Saturday was about 150 percent less than a similar effort two years ago. That’s progress.
But the 2010 campaign deserves an asterisk because a hefty portion of what was removed came compliments of the debris left from Hurricane Rita in 2005.
Work crews removed 60 tires from the bayou and its banks this year, down from the massive 250-tire haul two years ago.
“It’s disappointing,” said Eric Stevens, founder of Clean Bayou, which spearheaded the effort. “When I go to other places and move around fishing and hunting, I don’t see the accumulation of trash like I do here.”
Nevertheless, Stevens said the bayou looked “monumentally better” when the sun set Saturday.
Predictably, the volunteers gathered bags of the usual suspects — aluminum cans, plastic cups, fast-food restaurant bags and ice chests — and the unique ones — “every kind of sports ball imaginable,” as volunteer Will Drost observed.
But then there’s the grocery shopping cart. Did it tie one on in a nearby parking lot, stagger to the banks and fall in? We think not.
Or the large TV. Did it escape from a den and throw itself into a watery grave? Hardly.
Stevens’ most outrageous find? Two plastic paddle boats.
“They were big old things,” he said.
All of those odd items were the product of some knuckleheads’ mindless acts of littering sabotage. It speaks such ill of our area, offset by the volunteers who gave up their Saturday to clean up someone else’s mess.
Stevens said the next Contraband Bayou cleanup will likely be conducted in late February or early March, when lower water levels and reduced vegetation on the banks will likely yield a treasure trove — if you want to call this trash treasure — of debris.
Meanwhile, help is on the way. Two years after the city applied, the Army Corps of Engineers has approved collection booms that will be affixed to the bridges that span the bayou over Sale, Ryan and Common streets. Stevens said the booms should “short-stop” much of the litter, allowing the city to pick it up monthly.
Stevens wants to expand his Clean Bayou organization to mirror Louisiana’s Coastal Conservation Association as a nonprofit to leverage power, expand the cleanup campaign to Lake Charles, Prien Lake and Big Lake and establish another chapter in the Lafayette area.
The volunteers who manned boats and kayaks to restore Contraband Bayou’s natural beauty deserve a pat on the back from their fellow Southwest Louisiana residents.
As far those who willfully soil the bayou and other waterways in our area, they are little better than the trash they toss away.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.