As one of the six sites that constitutes Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, the Barataria Preserve in Marrero offers 23,000 acres of wetlands — from marshes to forests, nutria to over 200 aviary species. In addition to the number of boardwalk and dirt trails visitors can enjoy, the preserve boasts exhibits that highlight how the Mississippi River built Louisiana’s wetlands, the national importance of the area and the relation between the land and its people.
“It’s a terrific example of america’s disappearing wetlands. It’s fallen prey to subsidence,” says Charles Butler, former arborist at Barataria, of the preserve.
“This soil we’re standing on is only two thousand years old… it should have had a much longer life span. You can see the changes within the lifetime of a human being. Geologic processes are supposed to take much longer than that, but we’re changing the climate of this planet at a rate that many species have been unable to keep up with and many more are going to succumb to…These processes don’t turn around on a dime, so at this point we need to think about how we can mitigate this and how we can prepare for this radical change.”
Maurice Walker, a student in the Department of Film and Theatre at the University of New Orleans, speaks with Butler about the significance of Barataria and Louisiana’s disappearing wetlands.