Student Conservation Association members (from left) Sarah Beardsley, Griselda Rincon, Ian McKay, Jennifer Torres and Rianna Reyes stopped by the Hypolite Bordelon House in Marksville after finishing a month of clean-up and conservation work in the Spring Bayou Recreational Complex. {Photo by Raymond L. Daye)

Group spends 4 weeks cleaning Spring Bayou

Young conservationists from Houston collect tons of trash, debris

For four weeks, five young adults from Houston rolled up their sleeves and went out into the woods and waters around Spring Bayou to make a beautiful place even more beautiful.

“I had never seen a swamp system before,” Ian McKay, crew leader of the Student Conservation Association-Houston group, said. “I have worked in coastal areas. To see 30-foot wide bald cypress trees was breathtaking. Spring Bayou is very beautiful.”

McKay’s team arrived in Avoyelles on April 3 and began work on April 6. They finished on May 3. By the time they left, they had filled a large dumpster with about five tons of trash and debris.

Past Spring Bayou Restoration Team (SBRT) President Jim Landry said the five young adults -- McKay, Sarah Beardsley, Griselda Rincon, Jennifer Torres and Rianna Reyes -- worked hard and accomplished a lot during their short stay in Avoyelles.

The group attended the SBRT Banquet on April 14, where Mike Ducote was elected the local organization’s new president.

McKay and his team enjoyed their time here, including the SBRT banquet and other events where they were fed well and treated as honored guests.

The group attended the Avoyelles Police Jury agenda-setting meeting May 3 and were warmly greeted and thanked for their hard work by jurors. McKay said the group was impressed by the hospitality of the area.

“The people here are so nice,” he said. “I have never seen anything like it.” He told jurors that in addition to the local hospitality, he and his crew members enjoyed the local cuisine.

“We really threw down on some crawfish,” he said. “We were really blessed to be here. It went by so fast.”

The group “will definitely come back,” he said. “We heard about your Fourth of July Festival and plan to come back for that.”

Police Jury President Charles Jones asked the group to give the jurors advance notice if they plan another clean-up campaign “so we can do something for you” and possibly round up some local volunteers to help with the effort.

Juror Henry Moreau appreciated that the group of college-age conservationists “would come over here to clean up our mess when they just had a hurricane that blew away half of Houston.”

Members of the Spring Bayou Restoration Team helped the team with the river/trail clean-up project. The project involved cleaning about a mile of the nature trail. The group then focused on the banks of the waterway. SBRT members took them out by boat to clean trash and debris floating on the surface of the waterway.

McKay said the effort would have been even more successful if the water level was not so high.

“It’s starting to drop now that we’re leaving,” he noted. While there was a large variety of natural and man-thrown trash to be cleared, McKay said his group picked up “lots of beer bottles.”

In addition to the scenic beauty of Spring Bayou, the Houstonians were also treated to displays of the waterway’s wildlife.

“We saw a lot of alligators,” McKay said. “We also saw water moccasins and a lot of rat snakes.”

EXPANDING EFFORTS

McKay said the nonprofit organization recently decided to expand its conservation efforts to neighboring Louisiana. Its goal is to someday go nationwide.

He said the Houston group has hosted volunteers from other SCA chapters in the South, but this was the first time their organization sent a team out of Texas.

During a quick visit to the Hypolite Bordelon House grand re-opening, several visitors at that event thanked the out-of-state workers for their efforts to make Spring Bayou a better place.

“When I was their age, my mother wouldn’t even let me out of the kitchen,” longtime civic leader Eleanor Gremillion joked. “It is a wonderful thing to see young people willing to go out and do things like that.”

AVOYELLES JOURNAL
BUNKIE RECORD
MARKSVILLE WEEKLY

105 N Main St
Marksville, LA 71351
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