It seems odd that the Louisiana state slogan on its license plate is Sportsman’s Paradise. I am not a sport in the way that the slogan implies (hunting or fishing), nor am I a man. With such a gender specific state slogan, Louisiana has eliminated half of its population. But it’s not all about being politically correct. The slogan is probably aimed at folks coming from outside Louisiana who wish to spend a weekend sitting in a duck blind slathered in mosquito repellent, a marketing ploy aimed at bringing dollars to a state whose governor has refused federal money for Medicaid expansion and who also has excelled at dismantling the public health system. But this isn’t about Governor Bobby Jindal. No.
Take a look at a few other state slogans: Alabama, Sweet Home Alabama; Georgia, Peach State; Florida, Sunshine State; Kentucky, The Bluegrass State, and Mississippi, Birthplace of American Music. I’d like to recommend that the Louisiana legislature develop a more inclusive slogan. If nothing else, consider the benefits of increased revenue from new license plate sales, T-shirt designs, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and other paraphernalia.
But a change may be in the offing whether anyone wants it to happen or not. Scientists and environmentalists for years have been studying the Mississippi River, which verily is the lifeblood of the Sportman’s Paradise. In the olden days when the river ran free and wild, it created six thousand square miles of wetlands and luxury housing for oysters, shrimp, and wildlife. Louisiana contains twenty percent of America’s coastal wetlands and forty percent of its salt marshes. However, each year twenty-five miles disappear together with the livelihood of its fisherman and their families. State agencies addressed the original problem of flood control by building levees to harness the Mississippi. In doing so, they created another problem: the river can no longer dump alluvial soil and replenish barrier islands. Instead all those nutrients get wasted off the continental shelf. Of course, it will take money to address the issue, but otherwise the state will sink into the Gulf of Mexico as marshes, starved of needed nutrient material, are unable to rebuild and subsequently
die. Another issue has been the increasingly salty waters of the bayou due to pipeline channels built by oil companies carved throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
For the time being, can we call Louisiana The Bayou State, or maybe if real monies are dedicated to addressing the issue, Coastal Restoration State? Now that would be something.
For more information, read Bayou Farewell by Mike Tidwell.