This week’s "Wetlands Warrior" interview features the ladies—Marie Gould and Lindsay Pick—from Lost Lands Tours. Marie and Lindsay’s mission is to give more than a “typical swamp tour.” Lost Lands Tours focuses on educating the customer about the destruction that Louisiana’s wetlands face from dredging and mining along the coast. When these Wetlands Warriors give you a tour, they make sure you understand why coastal Louisiana is worth fighting for.
Global Green USA (GGUSA): What sparked your passion for protecting Louisiana’s wetlands?
Lindsay Pick (LP): I am a born and raised New Orelanian. As the usual story around here goes—in the aftermath of Katrina, the family home my grandfather built was submerged in 12 feet of water and my friends and loved ones were dispersed across the country. I joined AmeriCorps to help in the rebuilding efforts. My boss during AmeriCorps was Marie. Many young people go through an idealist phase, seeing the injustices and believing they can be the change. Most outgrow that phase. Marie never did, although she would definitely deny this.
Marie’s husband is Bob Marshall, the former Outdoors Editor for the Times Picayune. Bob has been covering the issue of coastal erosion for 35 plus years. Despite a journalism prowess that would later earn him two Pulitzer Prizes and an award from the National Academy of Sciences, his reporting on the issue went virtually unnoticed before Katrina.
After the storm, people began to realize the importance of coastal restoration for the region’s future. Marie took on the task of spreading the word. I heard about it all of the time…and it sunk in. I recognized the fragility of my hometown, and I knew all of the hard work we were putting in could easily be washed away again.
GGUSA: Can you tell us a little bit about your past or current work on wetlands?
LP: Lost Lands was a long-time dream of Marie and Bob’s. Bob’s reputation had made him a go-to when people of influence such as politicians, reporters, and documentarians wanted a trip into the wetlands to better understand the issues.
Marie and Bob loved doing these trips, and they also saw that experiencing the wetlands beauty and seeing the wildlife up close left people much more committed and passionate about restoration. Marie likes to say that it took me joining in to start Lost Lands because I was too young to realize that it wouldn’t work.
GGUSA: What important, yet little-known fact would you like to share with our audience?
LP: If we want a movement to grow and transform the future, I believe there need to be more opportunities to contribute to this field. I graduated with a Master’s in Urban Planning, focusing my coursework on coastal issues and flood protection. My degree was specifically tailored to these issues, and there was a disconcerting lack of positions for someone with a Hazard Mitigation degree focusing on flood protection.
I ended up pursuing opportunities outside the box: I was a hostess at an Irish restaurant, because even though I’m Jewish, I “looked Irish enough.” I completed undercover surveys of rental property affordability for a local organization. I even sold grilled cheese sandwiches at festivals. Interestingly enough, through this I learned to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit, and I used this attitude to convince Marie and Bob to apply for Pitch NOLA. We got in, and Lost Lands was born.
GGUSA: What do you view as the primary obstacle to wetland restoration?
LP: We aren’t seeing coastal restoration receive the national attention it needs, nor the vocal commitment locally. I’m a seventh generation New Orleanian, and I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to know this city and this region and have the option to call it home. New Orleanians and Southeast Louisianans have so much pride, I’d like to see them use that to create the movement we need.
GGUSA: What is something you would like to see added or emphasized in the 2017 State of Louisiana Coastal Master Plan?
LP: This State needs to become a leader in acknowledging the existence of global warming and the threat it poses to the existence of Southeast Louisiana. In doing that, it must become a leader in addressing the causes of global warming—the latest science says our Master Plan may be worthless due to the estimates of sea level rise caused by global warming.