This week’s “Wetlands Warrior” interview features Nathaniel Klumb who is leading a grassroots initiative to clean up Baton Rouge's waterways through his paddling group known as PaddleBR. PaddleBR has been leading "trash sweeps" in the nearby bayous to clear the water of litter before it reaches the wetlands.
Global Green USA (GGUSA): What sparked your passion for protecting Louisiana’s wetlands?
Nathanial Klumb (NK): I simply enjoy the water—being on, in, or under it. Around home here in Louisiana, I spend quite a bit of time in my canoes and kayaks. Being out there on the water, I've seen first-hand the result of wetlands being completely out of sight and out of mind. So, I decided to work to improve the situation so more people can get out there and enjoy the wetlands, keeping them in sight and in mind.
GGUSA: Can you tell us a bit about your past or current work on wetlands?
NK: While I've always been one to go out of my way to pick up litter (one canoe trip I collected 177 balls before running out of room), for the last six months or so I've been leading a small grassroots group in clearing years of accumulated litter and logjams that rendered Bayou Fountain in East Baton Rouge Parish impassable—and rather unpleasant. Months later, and dozens of very long work days into the project, 6.4 miles of Bayou Fountain is now clear for paddling, and we're about to have our second organized cleanup day.
GGUSA: What important, yet little-known, wetland fact would you like to share with our audience?
NK: When people see our bayous here in Baton Rouge, they apparently think, "littered drainage ditches." But working and paddling on them, I've seen amazing wildlife even right in town. I've even seen river otters both on Ward Creek and on Bayou Fountain.
GGUSA: What do you view as the primary obstacle to wetland restoration?
NK: While I cannot say which of the many obstacles are most important, my personal experience has been that the lack of attention is one of the foremost. If people don't even realize what is there, they will never care to protect or restore it.
GGUSA: What is something you would like to see added or emphasized in the 2017 State of Louisiana Coastal Master Plan?
NK: As a paddler, I would very much like to see more access as a point of emphasis. Paddling seems to be very popular these days, and there is no better way to get people invested in their wetlands than by having them see them first hand. (Apparently not everyone is up for 20-30 miles on a paddling day trip—no matter how fun I tell them it was.)
GGUSA: What future do you see for blue carbon on the Gulf Coast?
NK: Blue carbon on the Gulf Coast has the potential to bring much needed resources to bear for wetlands restoration and conservation. If it can provide incentives for much needed work, it could help significantly.
GGUSA: What is the one thing the average community member can do in the battle to restore coastal Louisiana?
NK: The first thing would simply be to get out there and see what we have. Once you see it for yourself, you will likely find your own way of lending a hand...or a voice...or whatever.