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Bayou Tours: A Guide to the Louisiana Outdoors
by Kristin Mouk

The Atchafalaya Basin's ecosystem

Not only are they beautiful, but the swamplands are also a functional component of Louisiana's environment. Along with its abundance of animals and fish, the basin produces thousands of pounds of vegetation yearly. This vegetation is a valuable source of flood control in the perpetually damp climate of Louisiana, absorbing millions of gallons of water yearly.


Photo ©1999 Juxtapose Media

The Atchafalya Basin is the home of many animal species nearing extinction, for example the Louisiana black bear. Largely herbivorous creatures, the Louisiana black bear lives out the mild winters in the hollowed out cypress trees of the basin, where its population is largely concentrated.

For many years, this hardwood river-swamp has been shrinking. Fortunately, organizations like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency have been quick to defend and protect the swamp regions from dangerous invasions by man. In a proposal delivered to the Louisiana Legislature on March 4 of this year, these associations have banded together to create the Atchafalaya Basin Program. Legislative acceptance of the program will put into effect a 15 year plan to conserve and restore the environmental resources unique to the Atchafalaya Basin.

Since the fishing industry is one of Louisiana's chief resources, the swamplands also make a major contribution to Louisiana's economy. Because fish are so plentiful in most areas along the Mississippi River, many chartered fishing tours combine the entertainment of a fishing trip with information of a tour.


Among the day tours in the Greater Baton Rouge/New Orleans area are the Alligator Bayou Swamp and Manchac Swamp Tours, both of which offer canoe rentals and charted boat tours. Angelle's Atchafalaya Basin Tours offer tours in either French or English narration. Manchac Swamp Boat Tours boast alligators as its number one attraction on daily tours. Some of the longer boating trips, which can last up to one week, include the entire Atchafalaya Basin area, not just its surrounding swamplands.

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Text Used with Permission ©1999 Kristin Mouk

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