Thousands to ‘Toast the Coast’ nationwide

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

THIBODAUX — The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) is asking residents of the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary to join in a nationwide “Toast to the Coast” in celebration of the annual National Estuaries Day. BTNEP is part of a network of 28 National Estuary Programs working to improve and restore the nation’s most important estuaries – the vibrant coastal areas where rivers meet the sea.

“We would like residents to raise a glass in appreciation to our estuary that provides so much to our communities,” said Dean Blanchard, BTNEP Interim Program Director. “Our estuary serves as an important factor in our culture and our heritage.”

BTNEP invites its supporters to give a toast to the coast by taking a picture of themself, a group or organization toasting the coast and submitting it to BTNEP to be posted on Facebook and BTNEP website. Photos will be posted the week of September 22nd, leading up to National Estuaries Day on the 27th. Those that participate will be joined by thousands of individuals and organizations around the country celebrating with toasts and other National Estuaries Day events.

Pictures can be submitted by email to Kristy@btnep.org.

BTNEP is one of 28 National Estuary Programs throughout the United States and its territories and includes all or parts of 16 Louisiana parishes that are located in the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary system. The National Estuary Program was established by Congress through section 320 of the Clean Water Act or 1987. The Barataria-Terrebonne estuarine complex became a National Estuary in 1990. The Barataria-Terrebonne estuarine complex encompasses the 4.2 million acres of wetlands, ridges, forests, farmlands, and communities between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River Basins in southeast Louisiana. Bayou Lafourche separates this complex into two basins, Barataria Basin to the east, and Terrebonne Basin to the west.

Nationwide, approximately 110 million people, or more than half of all Americans, live near an estuary and enjoy the many benefits estuaries provide. These benefits include jobs in industries like agriculture, commercial fishing, power generation, tourism, shipping, and even brewing and winemaking.

Estuaries also provide much more than jobs and wages. They provide habitat for fish, shellfish, shorebirds, waterfowl, and other wildlife. Hundreds of species use the protection of estuaries to breed, hunt, and raise their young. This, in turn, attracts tourists; as many as 180 million a year, according to a 1993 study. The salt marshes and wetlands used by these species also provide coastal residents with protection from hurricanes and storm surges.

The purpose of National Estuaries Day, first observed in 1988, is to promote the importance of coastal environments where rivers meet the sea. National Estuaries Day is supported by Restore America’s Estuaries, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association, the Association of National Estuary Programs, and countless other organizations, associations, and agencies. The Association of National Estuary Programs (ANEP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible stewardship and a common vision for the preservation and restoration of our nation's bays and estuaries. ANEP works with the 28 National Estuary Programs established by Congress to protect and restore tidal waterways of national significance.

For more information about Toast Your Coast or National Estuaries Day, please call the BTNEP at (985) 447.0868.