Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bayou Teche Residents May See Changes

Residents of Jeanerette living on the Bayou Teche could be affected by new regulations if Bayou Teche is included as a Historic and Scenic River into the Scenic River System overseen by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).
The river system was created by 1970 legislature to preserve, protect, develop, reclaim and enhance wilderness qualities and scenic beauty. Bayou Teche was nominated as a Historic and Scenic River in during the 2012 legislative session. The LDWF has studied the stream and finds that it meets the minimum qualifications to be considered for inclusion, said Keith Cascio, Scenic Rivers Coordinator for LDWF.
A series of public hearings were held to receive comments from the public on Bayou Teche's possible inclusion into the system as a Historic and Scenic River.
The designation of Bayou Teche as a Historic and Scenic River would increase restrictions on commercial activity and increase permits for residents living on the bayou wishing to build structures, boat docks, wharfs and other items. Permits would still also be required through the Army Corps of Engineers for any items that change the shores of the bayou.
 In St. Mary Parish, officials and residents were strongly against this inclusion.
"We thought we made it clear that we wanted to opt out of this for Iberia and St. Mary Parish," said Senator Brett Allain. "I will pledge that if they try to include the lower part of the Teche that we will kill any legislation that goes through. We live and work on Bayou Teche. There's no reason to change it now."
Representative Sam Jones agreed. "On this part of Bayou Teche we have commerce and are already regulated by the (Army) Corps of Engineers."
St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin also made it clear that he was against the designation for Bayou Teche.
"Everyday we have people on the Bayou Teche. We are strictly against this. We don't want more regulations," he said.
The designation of Bayou Teche as a Historic and Scenic River would prohibit activities which alter the natural and scenic qualities of the bayou. Those activities include channelization, channel realignment, clearing and snagging, and commercial clear cutting within 100 feet of the low water mark. Activities would require a permit by the LDWF and must be reviewed by the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and the Office of State Planning. Activities which must be permitted include but are not limited to bridge, pipeline and power line crossings, bulkheads, piers, docks and ramps, waste water discharges, land development, and aerial application of pesticides and fertilizers adjacent to the bayou, according to an online overview from the Louisiana Dept. of Natural Resources on Louisiana's Natural and Scenic Rivers.
During the public hearing held in Iberia Parish, attendees both in favor and opposed to the inclusion of Bayou Teche, had many questions concerning the project.
Cascio of LDWF stated that the benefits of the designation would protect fish and wildlife and preserve the view.
Patty Hall of the Teche Project spoke in favor of the designation. "We see this as an opportunity not a detriment. The Teche is rich in cultural history," she said.
Harold Schoeffler of the Sierra Club agreed. "The people who live on the bayou have an enormous commitment to the bayou. This is a way we can preserve the beauty of the waterway."
Additional restrictions and permits through the plan, however, were not welcomed by other attendees.
"It seems like a lot of duplications of processes," said one attendee.
Jim Simon of the American Sugar Cane League was concerned about the affect of the regulations on farmers and other industries.
"The Louisiana Sugar Industry has done a tremendous job of cleaning up our act," said Simon. We think this is another bureaucratic layer. We see something that seems good for people but the administration changes. For a number of reasons we as an organization think that an additional layer (of government) is something we wouldn't be in favor of."
The public has until April 5 to make comments on the proposal of Bayou Teche as a Historic and Scenic River. Comments are accepted online at or by writing to Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, Scenic Rivers Program, P. O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jeanerette's Farmers Market Growing

     The Jeanerette Farmer's Market adds new vendors each month since it first began in the fall. The project, sponsored by the Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce, is held at the Jeanerette City Parks from 8 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of each month.
​     "The Farmer's Market began as a collaboration of a lot of people in the community and the board. We did everything possible to get it together," said Chamber Coordinator Katheryne Landry. The event allows for backyard gardeners and crafters to sell their produce and homemade items free of charge, however, they must reserve their space with the Jeanerette Chamber in order to set up.
​     "The response has been very positive," Landry said. "People are pleased and they keep coming back." She added that items popula items sold included produce, jewelry and candles.
     "The support from the community has been really great," Landry said. At the February market, five new vendors were added.
     Kevin Boutte was one of the new vendors exhibiting at Farmer's Market. His booth, named The Garden Salad, features fresh vegetables, fruits, potted plants, herbs, and canned goods. He began his garden project after he moved back home to help his parents. Almost every day he spends four hours or more tending to his 80 x 200 foot garden and his home green house. While weeds can present a problem, especially in the warmer months, Boutte says that it doesn't hurt the plants.
     "In the fall, mirltion and beets are the big sellers," Boutte said. But added that summer was one of his busiest times.
​     "People love fresh tomatoes and cucumbers," he said.
​     For Lula Hobbs, being at the Jeanerette Farmer's Market has offered her the opportunity to enjoy being able to see people from the community.
     A native of Jeanerette, Hobbs has returned after living in San Francison for 48 years.
​     "I always wanted to come back," she said. Adding that there is nothing like the sunshine and the beauty of being home.
​     Hobbs originally came back home to take care of her mother and was looking for something to do when she discovered she enjoyed making jewelry. She has been making jewelry for over a year and has been enjoying the peacefulness it gives her.
​    "It's my quiet time at night when I sit and let the designs flow. I think the angels may help me," she said.
​     Hobbs has been displaying her jewelry at Farmer's Market since it began in Jeanerette and plans to continue.
     Trent Broussard is one of the younger vendors to exhibit at the Farmer's Market. He began baking at age 7 when he entered 4H contests. He continued to compete during the years and won reserve champion for his syrup cake. He sells that cake now at the market. He said that he learned his skills from his mother and grandmother.
     He also grows the produce that he sells on three acres of land at home. What began as a bet and way to raise funds to go on a trip has turned into a money making hobby for Broussard.