WEFTEC Volunteers Get Muddy To Restore New Orleans City Park Wetland

Scott Schaefer, Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) member, sports a Bogging in the Big Easy shirt and muddy hands from participating in the WEFTEC 2012 service project. Photo courtesy of Haley Falconer, SYPC vice chair.

Scott Schaefer, Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) member, sports a Bogging in the Big Easy shirt and muddy hands from participating in the WEFTEC 2012 service project. Photo courtesy of Haley Falconer, SYPC vice chair.

On Sept. 29, approximately 80 volunteers gathered to participate in Bogging in the Big Easy, the fifth annual WEFTEC® service project.

“Overall, the event was amazing,” said Haley Falconer, vice chair of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Students and Young Professionals Committee.

The wet morning made for muddy planting conditions, but the WEFTEC and community volunteers, who included local Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, did not hesitate to pitch in, Falconer said. Volunteers working on New Orleans City Park planted more than 5000 plants in a 0.8-ha (2-ac) bioswale in less than 2 hours, Falconer said. “It was truly incredible.”

Each year, the Students and Young Professionals Committee organizes this type of event as a way to give back to WEFTEC host cities, Falconer said.

A total of 80 volunteers gathered to plant a wetland area in New Orleans during the WEFTEC 2012 service project. Photo courtesy of Falconer.

A total of 80 volunteers gathered to plant a wetland area in New Orleans during the WEFTEC 2012 service project. Photo courtesy of Falconer.

“We heard from the City Park staff that they don’t think this bioswale would have been completed without the commitment from WEF,” Falconer said. “It’s great to know we had such a huge impact on the park.”

The bioswale is designed to remove silt and pollutants from runoff before it reaches local waterways. It is part of a larger wetland area that will provide wildlife habitat and a recreational area for park visitors.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded more than 90% of the park, causing extensive damage. City Park is the largest recreational area in the New Orleans metropolitan area, and its restoration will help return recreational opportunities in the city, officials said.

Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

WEFTEC 2012 Service Project Slideshow

Photos courtesy of Haley Falconer, SYPC vice chair, and Sarah Hubbell, SYPC member.

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