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CSU Channel Islands Observes 10-Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with Involvement in Two Events

CSU Channel Islands (CI) is nearly two thousand miles away from New Orleans, but CI has been deeply involved in post-Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts ever since the massive hurricane flooded much of the city after breaching the levees. 

In observance of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a CI professor who has dedicated himself year after year to post-Katrina restoration efforts will help host a news conference near New Orleans on Aug. 15.  

CI Environmental Science & Resource Management Associate Professor Sean Anderson, Ph.D., will travel to New Orleans for the Aug. 15 news conference on how the fragile wetlands are faring 10 years post-Katrina.

Anderson will co-lead the news conference with the Executive Director of the Woodlands Conservancy, Katie Brasted. The Woodlands Conservancy is a non-profit organization that owns and manages about 800 acres of wetland forest damaged by Katrina.

"The properties owned and managed by Woodlands Conservancy are one of the largest remaining forested land masses between open water and the city of New Orleans," Brasted said. "Restoring the forest improves the forest's ability to absorb storm water and serve as a wind barrier."

Anderson has taken frequent research trips to New Orleans and has led groups of students on yearly trips to Louisiana every year since Katrina struck in 2005.

The students learn about the local environment as they work to restore the crucial Woodlands Conservancy area.

His students get into the trenches and remove invasive vegetation while re-planting healthy native forest. They also meticulously document the condition of the forested wetland each spring.

Ten years later, Anderson said progress has been made, but New Orleans is still in trouble if another hurricane hits.

"The wetlands are hurting," Anderson said. "We are still losing them at a constant rate that remains unabated. We need large-scale restoration. Our restoration efforts show that we can indeed foster healthy wetlands, but such actions need to explode across the region and not be confined to a few locations if we hope to combat the dissolving of one of America's great ecosystems."

About 2.5 million birds cross the Gulf of Mexico during migration seasons, stopping in Louisiana to feed and rest. Hurricane Katrina soaked the other forested areas with saltwater, making the Woodlands Conservancy an even more rare and critical habitat for these migratory birds. 

Anderson and Brasted will lead a hike into the woodlands as part of the news conference, which will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 15 at 449 Edward Hebert Boulevard in Belle Chasse, La.

The hike will traverse areas in which invasive, destructive vegetation was removed and native forest was planted. The hike will also show areas that are still in recovery after 10 years.

When it struck on Aug. 29, 2005, Katrina killed more than 1,800 people living on the Gulf Coast and destroyed a large portion of the city and the surrounding environment.

CI Department of History Lecturer Michael Powelson, Ph.D., thinks there are lessons from Katrina that all of us need to learn so we don't repeat the same mistakes. He requested and received a grant from CI's Instructionally-Related Activities fund to organize on a conference about the lessons from Katrina, 10 years out. 

"On a personal note, I lived in New Orleans for 10 years and love the place dearly," Powelson said. "I thought a 10-year reassessment would help folks to remember that awful time and hopefully plan better so it won't happen again."

Powelson requests submissions from individuals and/or academicians who would like to present at a one-day conference on Katrina's aftermath on the CI campus on Friday, Oct. 16. He has funding for travel and an honorarium for one keynote speaker.

If you would like to answer the "call for papers" (submissions) from Powelson, email him at: [email protected].

About California State University Channel Islands

CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, as well as its emphasis on experiential and service learning. 

CI's strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials and innovative master's degrees. 

Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research.

CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond.

Connect with and learn more about CI by visiting CI's Social Media.

— Kim Gregory is a communications specialist for CSU Channel Islands.


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