Volunteers Help Restore Wetlands

"The assignment today is to restore the sawgrass, marsh grass in our wonderful community," said Desiree Young, as she worked her muddy gloves around another new plant.

It's a sizeable planting project for twenty some volunteers. Ten thousand plus marsh plants, will be planted along the mostly muddy banks of Bennett Bayou.

"The dirt gets harder as we go along," said one volunteer, as she worked the hardening soil.

Those involved with the project seem intent on restoring and renewing this sensitive marsh.

"I work in the environmental field. And I enjoy the environment. We spend a lot of time on the river. And we just wanted to protect our surroundings and make it for our children," said Young.

Children like Owen Schmidt. The three-year-old joined his dad David in getting his hands and boots muddy.

"I got muddier boots than you do," young son told father.

"We're out here today doing some steward work. And we have a lot of goals. But mine today is standing right there in front of you," said David, as Owen stood nearby, "Hopefully, if he sees this when he's young, he'll carry that with him."

"Does anyone know what we're planting?" asked one shovel wielding volunteer.

"Sawgrass!" said a responsive chorus of dirt diggers.

Sawgrass isn't actually a grass it turns out. It belongs to another botanical family.

"It propagates and sets out new plants. It's like a feeder plant, a feeder root," explained one expert, while answering a question from a learning volunteer.

Once in the ground, Mother Nature takes over. Starter plants will soon shoot up and out, filling the banks like the sawgrass nearby.

"Instead of taking away wetlands, let's restore them and have them functioning as they should to help us with flooding, water quality, those important functions that they have," said Judy Steckler, who represents Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain.

This portion of Bennett Bayou is designed to help educate. It's home to the Audubon Learning Center.