Bayou Plaquemine targeted in spring beautification project

Deidre Cruse
BEAUTIFICATION FOR BOATERS...Girl Scout Brownies work with members of the Plaquemine Garden Club and Keep Iberville Beautiful in planting native trees at the White Castle Canal Boat Landing. Apache Corporation donated 50 native trees – red swamp maple, ball cypress, persimmon and swamp magnolia – to the Plaquemine Garden Club, which is using them at three public boat landings. The trees not only make the landings more attractive, but also provide shade, reduce erosion, filter water and attract birds and wildlife, says John J. Clark, parish environmental manager and head of Keep Iberville Beautiful.

Hoping to build on the success of a clean-up project on Bayou Grosse Tete, the Keep Iberville Beautiful program plans to target Bayou Plaquemine this year, said Iberville Environmental Manager John J. Clark.

At Bayou Grosse Tete, we did a clean-up for two years in a row,” said Clark, who heads Keep Iberville Beautiful. “They're doing their own events and planting trees along the bayou. Grosse Tete won the cleanest city award last year, and they're shooting for it again this year.”

Clark said he hoped to work with the City of Plaquemine and the Dow Chemical Company, which has been interested, to organize a clean-up campaign the morning of March 26, just ahead of the “Boogie on the Bayou” live music event that starts at 2 p.m.

“It would be cleaned for that event,” he said. “We want to target Bayou Plaquemine because what we did on Bayou Grosse Tete did so well.”

The parish had sponsored annual parishwide cleanup day, but Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said he had become discouraged sponsoring a one-day volunteer effort, when the parish is keeping a roadside crew of 13 prisoners busy picking up trash four days a week.

“I'm frustrated and ashamed with the blight and the litter around this parish,” Ourso said. “Taxpayers are paying for those two vans and two prison guards to come four days a week – and still the amount of stuff we pick up. It don't get any better [sic].”

So, Clark and Keep Iberville Beautiful, the local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, decided to target specific areas.

Clark said he, along with Parish Councilman Edwin M. Reeves Jr. and Klein Kirby of A. Wilbert's Sons have been working with the LSU Bioengineering Department, which is designing a “contraption” to fit over city storm drains into Bayou Plaquemine to trap litter dropped on city streets before it goes into the waterway.

“This type of contraption must not only be functional but also easy to service and maintain and, most of all, not impede water flow,” Clark said.

They met with student designers recently to look at a prototype that still needs tweaking, he said.

“The senior students want, as part of their project, to do a cleanup on Bayou Plaquemine as well, so it looks we'll be partnering with them.”

In the meantime, Keep America Beautiful has been working with the Plaquemine Garden Club to plant native trees at three public boat landings – the Enterprise landing on Bayou Plaquemine, the White Castle Landing and Bayou Grosse Tete.

The Plaquemine Garden Club received a donation of 50 trees from Apache Corporation, and is sharing them with the new club they helped organize in Grosse Tete, the Along the Bayou Garden Club.

NEW GARDEN CLUB GOES TO WORK...The newly formed Along the Bayou Garden Club of Grosse Tete works with Keep Iberville Beautiful planting trees at the Bayou Grosse Tete Boat Landing. On the job are, from left, Ruby Hafford; Timmy George, husband of club organizer Pam George; Martha George and Florence Chauffe.