Nicholls executive to return to writing

Best of luck to Mr. Al Davis in his “wrestling match”.

After 34 years at Nicholls State University, Al Davis will “technically retire” this spring to write fiction — his first love but which he says was like “a big sumo wrestler” that beat him down.

Sitting behind his desk, wearing his trademark bowtie, this one orange with silver diagonal stripes, Davis reflected on a career built upon his ability to write.

He’s currently vice president for interim academic affairs. He’s been dean of the University College, Alcee Fortier distinguished professor, distinguished service professor of languages and literature, and novelist in residence.

Davis was born and raised in Houma and graduated from Terrebonne High School.

Recognizing his talent early on, teachers encouraged Davis to write. Taking their advice to heart he wrote as often as he could, including poems for girls he had a crush on. Those he stuck to the girls’ lockers.

Writing, he said, was always what he wanted to do.

“I was reading ‘As I Lay Dying’ one night, and when Addie Bundren started talking I said ‘Oh my, I’ve got to do this,'” he said.

Davis attended the University of Louisiana-Lafayette graduated from Nicholls in 1969 with degrees in history and English.

After briefly teaching in Terrebonne Parish, Davis earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Colorado State University, then returned to Houma, covering the court system for the Houma Courier.

“We carried cameras around. We had to have a story, we all had a byline, had to have one every day,” he said. “I had fun at the newspaper.”

He soon returned to Nicholls as a professor. He taught English for several years until he completed his first two novels, “Leechtime” in 1989 and “Marquis at Bay” in 1992. He began teaching creative writing and was named novelist in residence in 1993.

Davis cites William Faulkner, Joseph Conrad and Ernest Hemingway as his inspiration.

“Faulkner is my hero,” he said.

The novels, Davis said, were a personal struggle.

“Writers look for any excuse not to write. I can write a poem every day, but a novel, no. That’s a big sumo wrestler that beat … me and won,” he said.

Shortly thereafter he was commissioned to write a different kind of book: the university policy manual.

“I got familiar with administration, policy, promotion and tenure guidelines. That’s where working in administration became really attractive to me,” he said.

Not long after he completed the faculty handbook, Davis was named director of general studies.

He worked his way up to dean of the relatively young University College. During the past decade, he guided the John Folse Culinary Institute through the addition of several four-year degrees and a new building, and the Petroleum Engineering Safety and Technology Management program as it expanded to meet workforce needs.

The opening of the new culinary building, Davis said, will mark the official countdown to his retirement.

Since becoming interim vice president, Davis has pulled double duty.

“This has been an interesting little place. I’ve got a bigger perspective of what’s been going on. I’m a little closer to faculty, outside of my limited view. It’s very busy, he said.

He said Nicholls President Bruce Murphy, who started his job in January, has hired the right people and “is a smart man with a plan.”

And, he said, for years he’s been feeling an increasing call to finish that third novel. He had set spring 2015 as a potential exit date even before Murphy was named, he said.

He’ll still be around campus. As an Alcee Fourtier distinguished professor, Davis gets an office to continue his work on publications advancing the Nicholls’ name.

“When you get to 30 years you start to think about it,” he said. “Your body starts telling you ‘you’re not going to live forever.’ Maybe you do want to get back in the ring with the sumo wrestler just to try it out. Maybe you do need to do that puzzle your granddaughter likes to do, maybe you do want to watch your granddaughter get off the bus and run at you and say, ‘Papa!'”

By JACOB BATTE  The Daily Comet

Nicholls State official retiring after 34 years to return to fiction writing – Daily Journal.

via Nicholls State official retiring after 34 years to return to fiction writing – Daily Journal.

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▶ Kendall Jones: Game On – Alligator Hunting Girls

The premiere episode of “Game On” features Kendall Jones and her best friend Taylor Altom as they slip away from college for a weekend to go gator hunting in Lake Charles, LA with Louisiana native and farmer/rancher Charles Schultz.



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Louisiana festival guide 2014: November | Benny Cenac – My Louisiana

Louisiana Festivals in November fete frogs, experimental theater, and steampunk living. Highlights include Hell Yes Fest, New Orleans Fringe, the Louisiana Renaissance Festival, and more.

Oct. 23-Nov. 2

Greater Baton Rouge State Fair Live music, stage shows, more than 40 carnival rides, concessions and more. Admission: $5 for anyone at least 48 inches tall. Ride wristbands cost $20. Baton Rouge Fairgrounds, 16072 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge, 225.755.3247, email

Oct. 23-Nov. 9

State Fair of Louisiana A carnival with live entertainment, a rodeo with livestock exhibitions, plus competitive events, concessions, and more. Shreveport, 318.635.1361.

Oct. 28-Nov. 2

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival The sixth annual festival brings together birders, farmers, and spectators for field days, workshops, information booths, and more. Jennings.

Oct. 31-Nov. 2

Antique Trade Days Art and Crafts Show A three-day outdoor festival with antiques, collectibles, fine arts, craft booths, foods, and children’s activities. Admission: Free. Ponchatoula Trade Days Grounds, 160 S.E. Railroad Ave., Ponchatoula, 985.386.0026.

Holy Ghost Creole Bazaar and Festival Creole and zydeco music, a gospel choir concert, parade, raffles, games, food and more. Admission: Free. Holy Ghost Catholic Church, 747 N Union St., Opelousas, 337.942.2732.

La. Swine Festival Pageants, a parade, pork cook-off, live entertainment and contests. Basile Town Park, Basile, 337.230.1479.

The Voodoo Music and Arts Experience Voodoo Fest features rock, hip-hop, electronic, indie, funk, jazz, zydeco and brass bands on multiple stages, plus large interactive art installations, a family area, craft vendors and Louisiana cuisine. Camping options are available New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds, 1701 Wisner Blvd, New Orleans, email

Nov. 1

Southdown Marketplace Fall Arts and Crafts Festival More than 300 vendors will be selling their wares during the festival, sponsored by the Terrebonne Historical and Cultural Society. Admission: $5 for adults, free for children under 12; additional fees for food, museum tours and select activities. Southdown Plantation House, 1208 Museum Drive, Houma, 985.851.0154.

Louisiana Book Festival More than 120 authors, poets and storytellers will read and discuss their work, plus vendors, an area for young readers, children’s activities, food and music. Admission: Free. State Library of Louisiana, 701 N. Fourth St., Baton Rouge, 225.219.9503.

Bayou Bacchanal Friends of Culture hosts the 12th annual Caribbean festival, with authentic cuisine, dancing, and music. Louis Armstrong Park, 801 N Rampart St, New Orleans.

Nov. 1-2

Celebration of the Giant Omelette Music, food, antique cars and farm equipment, egg-cracking contests, children’s activities, arts and crafts. On Sunday, the giant omelet will be cooked in a 12-foot skillet. Admission: Free. Magdalen Square, 1 S. Magdalen Square, Abbeville, 337.893.0013.

Sabine Free State Festival Celebrate the history of the neutral strip between Texas and Louisiana with an old-time shoot-out, craft and food vendors, live entertainment and more. Florien, 800.358.7802.

Nov. 1-Dec. 7 (weekends only)

Louisiana Renaissance Festival A cast of 300 costumed actors re-create life in a Renaissance village, with live stage shows, jousting, craft demos, food, music, falconry, games and (man-powered) rides, plus vendors. Admission: $17 adult, $10 children 7-12, children 6 and younger free. 46468 River Road, Hammond, 985.429.9992, email

Nov. 6-9

Port Barre Cracklin Festival Cajun, zydeco and swamp music, carnival rides, arts and crafts, a pageant and food. Veterans Memorial Park, 504 Sazian Avenue, Port Barre, 337.585.6673.

Rayne Frog Festival Rides, food, music, crafts, frog racing and jumping competitions, a bullfrog derby, parade and more. Fairgrounds, Rayne, 337.334.2332.

Nov. 7

“If Headstones Could Talk” Take a guided, living history tour of the cemetery, and listen as “residents” tell stories of what life was like in Abbeville at the turn of the 20th century. Tours depart every 30 minutes. Admission: $10. St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, 300 Pere Megret St., Abbeville, 337.740.2112 or 337.898.4110.

Nov. 7-9

Scandinavian Festival and Christmas Sale Scandinavian food, children’s activities, traditional jazz concerts and a bazaar. Sunday features a jazz service, followed by Scandinavian lunch and cakes. Admission: Free. Norwegian Church, 1772 Prytania St, 504.525.3602.

Pecan Festival Live music, contests, fireworks, a queens’ ball and grand parade. Downtown Colfax, 318.627.5196.

Westwego Cypress Swamp Festival The 19th annual Wego Fest honors all U.S. military and vets with live entertainment, carnival rides, food and drinks, crafts and raffles. Admission: $2 (Free for children 10 and younger). Pay-one-price ride tickets, $20 for five hours. Westwego Farmers and Fisheries Market, 484 Sala Ave., Westwego, 504.341.3424 or 504.341.9083.

Nov. 8

Atchafalaya Basin Festival Live music, a car show, cook-off, raffle, parade, bingo, auctions, food, arts and crafts. Admission: Free. Henry Guidry Memorial Park, 1454 Henderson Hwy., Henderson, 337.257.2444.

Irish Fest The Irish Famine Commemoration Board presents Irish Fest. New Orleans is a first-time host city for the event, which is an international commemoration of the 1840s famine. Admission: $13.65 advance. Kingsley House, 1600 Constance St, New Orleans.

Special Needs Day The third annual event for families with special needs includes face painting, music and live entertainment, animals to pet and hold, and a social service fair. Admission: TBA. Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine St, New Orleans, 800.774.7394.

Steampunk and Maker’s Faire A liars contest and competitions for beards, mustaches, and other facial hair; plus live music, theater, vendors, demonstrations, workshops, discussions and more. Admission: Free. Downtown Lafayette.

Thibodauxville Fall Festival Live entertainment, food, crafts, a car show, a duck race and children’s activities. Admission: Free. Downtown Thibodaux, 985.446.1187.

Nov. 8-9

Destrehan Plantation Fall Festival Arts and crafts, Cajun and creole foods, antiques and collectibles, pony rides, face painting, craft demonstrations, and tours of the plantation house. Admission: $7 (free for children age 12 and younger). Additional fee of $5 for plantation house tours. Destrehan Plantation, 13034 River Road, Destrehan, 985.764.9315.

Treme Creole Gumbo Festival A who’s who of New Orleans brass bands, plus a large arts market, gumbo vendors, second lines, a dance contest, and a vegan gumbo contest. Admission: Free. Louis Armstrong Park, 801 N Rampart St, New Orleans, 504.558.6100.

Nov. 12-16

Hell Yes Fest The comedy festival’s fourth year brings a flurry of standup, sketch, improv, podcasts, films and more funny stuff to New Orleans. Admission: 2014 pricing TBA. Various locations including The New Movement, 2706 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans.

Nov. 14-16

River Parishes Fall Festival Rides, games, music, a pageant, raffles, children’s entertainment and more. Admission: Free. Sacred Heart of Jesus School, 453 Spruce St., Norco, 985.764.9958.

Nov. 15-16

Covington Three Rivers Arts Festival A juried show of 200 artists in a festive atmosphere with demonstrations, food, live music and children’s activities. Admission: Free. Columbia Street, downtown Covington, 985.327.9797.

Nov. 19-23

2014 New Orleans Fringe Festival Scores of alternative theater works will be performed at venues throughout Faubourg Marigny and Bywater, including the Shadowbox Theatre, during a celebration that includes a parade, a yard art tour and children’s activities. The Shadowbox Theatre, 2400 St. Claude Ave, New Orleans, 504.941.3640.

Nov. 20-24

Words and Music: A Literary Feast in New Orleans The Faulkner Society’s annual literary festival includes a Sunday night gala, masterclasses, book sales, panel discussions with noted authors, music performances, literary luncheons and much more. 2014 theme is “The Art of Improvisation in Words, Music, and Life.” Admission: Varies. Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St, New Orleans, 504.586.1609 or 504.525.5615, email

Nov. 22

2nd District Cops 2 Blues Fest The event, formerly known as the Magazine Street Blues Festival, features live local music, artist vendors, food trucks and restaurant vendors, children’s games and inflatables. Pets welcome. Proceeds benefit Citizens Organization for Police Support 2 (COPS 2), dedicated to support of police officers assigned to the Second District. Admission: Free. Palmer Park, South Carrollton Avenue at South Claiborne Avenue, New Orleans, 504.962.7260.

Nov. 22-Jan. 6

2014 Festival of Lights Several weeks of festivities offer outdoor light displays, live entertainment, children’s activities, open houses, arts and crafts, fireworks, food vendors, parades, 5K, holiday home tours and more. The annual Christmas festival is Dec. 6. A full schedule of events can be found at the website. Admission: Varies. Historic Landmark District, Natchitoches, 800.259.1714.

Nov. 25-30

Bayou Classic The 41st annual event celebrates the rivalry between Grambling State University and Southern University with a big game, plus a parade, golf tournament, Battle of the Bands and more. Admission: Varies by event. Various locations, New Orleans, 504.293.2619, email

Nov. 29

Fleur de Lis Arts and Crafts Show More than 100 vendors show and sell at this biannual indoor arts and crafts festival. Browse pottery, woodworking, jewelry, clothing, kitchen goods, jams, jellies, spices, and much more. Natchitoches Event Center, 750 Second St., Natchitoches.

Nov. 29-30

Tis the Season Street Stroll Artisans and craftsmen from the South display their wares in booths along Columbia Street, where there also will be food and live music. Admission: Free. Downtown Bogalusa, Columbia St. at East Fourth St., Bogalusa, 985.732.4684 or 985.750.4054.

Nov. 29-Dec. 13

Fall Harvest Festival Arts and crafts, farm demos and hayrides. Grant Christmas Tree Farm and Syrup Mill, 716 Whitaker Road, Grant, 318.634.3408.


Louisiana festival guide 2014: November |

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Louisiana festival guide 2014: November | Benny Cenac – My Louisiana.

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Louisiana hunters, it’s time to grow your beards, and help a good cause | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman

Luke Landry beard


For many hunters, growing a beard during duck season is as important as buying shotgun shells. A beard not only is a fashion statement for the hunting blind, it also is functional, serving to keep a hunter warm and reduce the glare of the sun on his face.

To unite hunters in the facial-hair brotherhood, Ducks Unlimited has again organized the Beards for Conservation program that allows hunters to track their beard growth for a good cause, and hopefully win some valuable prizes along the way.

The first step is to download the free Beards for Conservation app, which is available for both iPhone and Android devices. Then participants select one of DU’s top five conservation-priority areas to help raise awareness about on-going work in that area. The Gulf Coast is one of those priority areas.

After that, the next step is to drop your razor in a bathroom drawer and forget about it until February.

Each day, hunters may use the mobile app to take a photo of the progress. The photo will appear in that hunter’s public profile page on the DU website.

As part of the process, beard-growers may ask friends and relatives on Facebook to make a donation to DU through their personal fundraising pages. The top-five fundraisers win valuable, hunting-related prizes, including seven cases of Federal ammunition.

Throughout the program, DU will also award prizes like waterfowling gear, coolers and DU merchandise to random participants.



Louisiana hunters, it’s time to grow your beards, and help a good cause |

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Louisiana hunters, it’s time to grow your beards, and help a good cause | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman.

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Louisiana shrimp catch in September largest since 2003


Louisiana shrimpers caught more shrimp in September than any other September since 2003, according to federal fisheries estimates released this week.

Shrimpers caught 7.9 million pounds of shrimp, the largest on record for the month since the 8 million pounds landed in 2003.

The September shrimp landings were 63.2 percent above the 7-year historic average for the month of September, which is 4.8 million pounds, according to a recent Southern Shrimp Alliance analysis of the National Marine Fisheries Service preliminary catch numbers.

Strong landings for the past few months have helped buoy the slow start to the year. The Louisiana shrimp harvest for the first nine months of 2014 was now about equal to the 7-year historic average for that period — 37.3 million pounds.

Meanwhile, prices for shrimp at the dock in September continued to be significantly higher than previous years. Depending on the size of the shrimp, prices were anywhere from about 50 cents to $1.50 more per pound.

For the entire Gulf of Mexico, shrimp landings for September were 31 percent of the 12.1-million pound historic average.

Still, for the Gulf as a while, landings were 8 percent down for the year, when compared to its historic average of 81.7 million pounds.

“The primary drag on landings volumes (in the Gulf) has been Texas, which has continued to report weaker landings data,” according to a Southern Shrimp Alliance newsletter sent to its member this week.

For the year, Texas shrimp landings are 30 percent below its historic average. That makes it Texas’ lowest volume year since 2008.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance is an eight-state coalition of shrimpers and processors that has long pushed for greater regulations on shrimp imports.


Louisiana shrimp catch in September largest since 2003 |

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Louisiana shrimp catch in September largest since 2003 | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman.

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Video: New Orleans Food Memories | Arlen Benny Cenac – In My Kitchen

If you grew up in New Orleans, you will love this video which highlights those local food memories we have all come to know and love. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did.



Video: New Orleans Food Memories | Arlen Benny Cenac – In My Kitchen.


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Can the Alligator Save Louisiana’s Economy?


The cutting room was shaded and refrigerated, and if it weren’t for the skinned and bloody carcass splayed out on a bi-level stainless-steel table in front of us, arms hanging over the sides (claws still covered in scales, as though it were wearing gloves), and the man with the big knife slicing off chunks of the alligator’s flesh, it would have been a pleasant respite from the day’s brutal heat.

Outside, it was humid, over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and a fetid swamp stink hung over the parking lot just few dozen yards away from the Manchac Pass, a thin waterway connecting southeastern Louisiana’s two great lakes, Maurepas and Pontchartrain.

Earlier, while eating lunch at a restaurant nearby—Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant, “Home of the World Famous Original Thin Fried Catfish!”—I had heard a rumor that somewhere around here was an alligator hunter named Hayden Reno who, if I was lucky, would be skinning a captured beast today. So I wandered through the parking lot, past ramshackle buildings and weeds sprung up through cracked concrete, not sure what, exactly, I was looking for. Then I saw the sign, hand-painted and nailed to a wooden shack: “Fatboys Alligator Dinners.” Beyond the sign were Reno’s stamping grounds where, for a fee, he’d cut you off a piece of just-caught gator meat and serve it to you for dinner.

The fact that gator was on a menu in 2014 is no small feat. Just a few decades ago, the American alligator was hunted almost to extinction in Louisiana.

The early settlers of the Louisiana colony first began to report on the “crocodiles,” as the French called them at the turn of the 17th century, according to the Louisiana Sportsman. (Alligators do in fact belong to the Crocodilia order, but are of a different genus than true crocodiles.) “We see a large quantity of crocodiles,” wrote Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, the founder of the colony, in his diary of the 1699 exploration of Bayou Manchac. “I killed a small one, 8 feet long. They are very good to eat.”

For many decades after, the reptile was hunted in small quantities. But after the Industrial Revolution, the construction of commercial tanneries in New York and Europe enabled the mass production of things “exotic” skin shoes, bags and accessories, and demand for alligator skins increased exponentially. Combined with few regulations and plenty of poaching, this led to ruinous overhunting—and by the 1950s, the hunt was scant. In 1962, alligator harvesting was banned statewide, and the American alligator was listed as an endangered species in 1967.

In an effort to revitalize the gator population, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), led by marine biologist Ted Joanen, launched a project to study the life cycle of the animals, and designed a program to eliminate poaching. “Marsh to Market” went into effect in 1972, allowing landowners to apply for “harvest tags” assigned to their property (which enabled hunters to take a prescribed number of gators from the approved land areas). These property owners were also now permitted to sell alligator eggs to farmers—so long as a fixed number of hatchlings were released into the wild. These two policies empowered the landowners to monitor poaching practices on their properties, and provided hunters with a legal means to make money on their catch. And finally, that year saw the opening of the first public hunting season in a decade: a 13-day-long hunt in Cameron Parish. Gradually, the gator population grew, other parishes were added, and by 1981, hunting season was opened statewide.

The program was a massive success and, as its name implies, was all about the market economy. “The best thing people can do for the alligator is to buy alligator products. Buy a belt or bag or boots, and wear them with pride,” Joanen, now retired, told the Capital Research Center in 2013. His words are gospel in the region: A popular bumper sticker says, “Save an Alligator, Buy a Handbag.” Joanen’s team revitalized the Louisiana alligator population by convincing rural landowners that these dangerous animals were worth keeping around—and could be worth beaucoup money.

The comeback of the alligator is often spoken of as one of the great triumphs in American animal conservation. Since 1972, about 800,000 alligators have been harvested in the wild, and countless more grown on farms that sprang up out of the program. Although the final numbers for the 2014 hunting season—which still lasts only one month, September—won’t be in for months, they might be the best yet. “I’ve seen more alligators this year than ever before,” says Jady Regard, who runs the Bourbe Lake Hunting Club in Lena, Louisiana. “It seems like there’s an alligator in every hole in Louisiana.”

It’s great for nature, but even better for the local economy, because alligators are a valuable resource; “conservative estimates,” according to the LDWF, put the total value at $704 million. The annual harvest has escalated in recent years. In 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, 34,376 alligators were recorded as “taken” from the wild—the most since the LDWF began keeping records in 1972. Add to that the 280,000 alligators harvested at farms and the total value of the skin and meat combined was over $79 million in 2012.

And these numbers may skyrocket soon. Just last year, Louisiana State University cut the ribbon on the “Alligator Research Station” outside the Baton Rouge city limits. The stated goal is to do for the “alligator farming industry what science has already done for the cattle, pork and poultry industries.” In other words, if LSU scientists and the industry funding the research have their way, factory-farmed alligators may be on the horizon.

Led by Robert Reigh, a veteran aquatic animal nutritionist, the Alligator Research Station is starting by figuring out how to optimize gator feed. The discovery by cattle farmers that growth hormones could be added to the cows’ food to speed their development, and that they could quickly “finish” (i.e., fatten) their cows by feeding them a corn-based diet for three to six months leading up to slaughter, fueled the explosion of the beef trade in the 1950s and 1960s, and pushed beef past pork as America’s meat of choice.

Farm-Fresh Croc!

The day after I saw Reno break down his alligator carcass, I saw a few of the apex predators in the wild. We were in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, a protected swamp that was like something out of Faulkner: Spanish moss hanging off cypress trees, grasshoppers the size of a standard Office Depot stapler, and dangerous reptiles lurking beneath our feet, still as a sunken log until they smell dinner…when they launch their serpentine bodies at prey with startling speed.

“Alligators eat just about anything they can catch,” says Reigh, and that’s almost always other living things. That’s why alligators on farms today are fed a lot of animal protein. However, that doesn’t mean that’s what they should be eating. “Even though they have a carnivorous lifestyle in the wild, they are able to digest plant products,” Reigh adds, suggesting that a more balanced (or even vegetarian) diet could lead to gators that grow bigger, faster, cheaper.

It’s too early to tell—the station built its in-house alligator tanks in January 2014, and filled them with live animals only in mid-September. They’ll be testing a variety of feeds, but Reigh already has an inkling of what they’ll find. “Animals tend to be more alike than different in terms of what they need to eat,” he says, hinting at the possibility that you might soon see Gucci purses made from corn-fed alligators.

The gator skin industry is tantalizing in a state that is one of the poorest in the union. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, for example, Louisiana households had a median income of $39,085, third lowest in the country; only Arkansas and Mississippi residents made less. It continues to be plagued by crime, much of connected to poverty; according to a recent FBI report, Louisiana has the seventh highest violent crime rate in the country and the fifth highest property crime rate.

The gator farmers hope Reigh’s work will lead to regional industry growth like what the Midwest saw with cattle in the middle of the 20th century—making them millions and adding plenty of jobs to the region. Alligator farms are mostly family affairs right now, but it’s easy to imagine a future in which the farms become one-stop-shops, with a polished product that could lure buyers from New York, Paris and Milan, and funnel wealth directly back into Louisiana, bypassing the out-of-state and foreign tanneries. In the 1950s and 1960s, a handful of Midwestern cattlemen turned their farms into factories and moved from the fields to the boardrooms; in the 21st century, maybe a few entrepreneurial gator farmers will move from the swamp to the penthouse.

Not everyone buys into that vision. “A more prominent alligator industry might help tourism just a little, or improve ratings on the L.A.-based reality shows, but it is not likely to grow into something that would have a big impact on the overall statewide economy,” says Stephen Barnes, an assistant professor and the director of the Division of Economic Development at Louisiana State’s business school. On the other hand, as Barnes suggests, “alligator farming is one of those industries that makes a unique contribution to the state’s culture,” and it can drive a lucrative trade in tourism.

After a deep plunge in tourism following Hurricane Katrina, interest in the region and culture has skyrocketed in recent years. As Barnes noted, TV shows like the History Channel’s Swamp People have drawn in record numbers of viewers in recent years, and real-life visitors spent $9.9 billion in Louisiana in 2012, compared with $6.4 billion in in 2006. Lots of these dollars go to the jazz clubs on Frenchman Street, the watering holes on Bourbon Street and the various other assorted and often sordid attractions of New Orleans, but plenty ends up out in the bayou, too.

Jady Regard, for example, pulls in a nice income on the alligator hunts he leads. In fact, he doesn’t even hunt his own animals anymore. “I’ve killed my fair share of alligators, and it’s cool,” he says, “but quite frankly I can make a lot more money [leading tours]. Essentially, I’m selling each gator for $3,000. I’m making over $30K with my [10 alligator hunting] tags.”

That’s a lot more than 10 alligators would sell for on the open market, dead or alive.


Can the Alligator Save Louisiana’s Economy?.

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How To Make Pumpkin Spice Lattes (Even Better Than Starbucks!)

Fall, or, as it’s also known as, “Pumpkin Spice Latte Season”, is definitely upon us.  Don’t want to get out of your p.j.’s and head to Starbucks for this tasty beverage?  Here’s how to make one at home and save yourself the trip – and the $5.



Makes 2 drinks

What You Need

2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more to garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
1 to 2 shots espresso, about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped until firm peaks form


  1. Heat the pumpkin and spices: In a small saucepan over medium heat cook the pumpkin with the pumpkin pie spice and a generous helping of black pepper for 2 minutes or until it’s hot and smells cooked. Stir constantly.
  2. Stir in the sugar: Add the sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly thick syrup.
  3. Warm the milk: Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract. Warm gently over medium heat, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
  4. Blend the milk: Carefully process the milk mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender (hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels!) until frothy and blended.
  5. Mix the drinks: Make the espresso or coffee and divide between two mugs and add the frothed milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg if desired.


How To Make Pumpkin Spice Lattes (Even Better Than Starbucks!) — Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn | The Kitchn.

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Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte Holiday Drink 2014

star embed

The Pumpkin Spice dust hasn’t even settled, and already the mad scientists over at Starbucks HQ are ready to release another far-out concoction ripe for mass consumption (and joke-making).

The Chestnut Praline Latte will join its Christmas sweater-wearing cousins, the Gingerbread Latte and the Peppermint Mocha as Starbucks’ blood-warming army of three this holiday season.

The new drink will hit Starbucks outposts across the country on November 12. Despite having already tested the drink on selected markets last year, this marks the first time the coffee giant will debut a new bevvy nationwide in five years.

For those of you still scratching your heads as to what exactly makes a praline, here’s the math: It’s essentially a candy made from nuts and sugar syrup. Like most of Starbucks’ holiday-themed drinks, this one is not for the calorie-averse; a grande PSL (with whip) weighs in at 380 calories, so we’d bet the chestnut praline variety wont differ too much.

Does this mean that the CPL (too soon?) will achieve the same ubiquity as the PSL? Both Starbucks execs and professional Twitter wise alecks sure hope so. (USA Today)


Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte Holiday Drink 2014.

via Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte Holiday Drink 2014.


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Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte Holiday Drink 2014 | Arlen Benny Cenac – In My Kitchen.

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Louisiana man performs ‘Dirty Dancing’ trick with alligators

An online video shows Lance Lacrosse, 29, of Marrero, dancing with the giant reptiles and even holding one above his head as in the classic 1987 film. Lacrosse said he has worked with alligators for 20 years and the worst injury he has had is a bite mark on his finger.

A shocking online video was taken of a man getting very close to alligators in the water and even using dance moves reminiscent of the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing.”

The video shows local tour guide Lance Lacrosse, 29, of Marrero, getting very close to the giant reptiles, feeding them pieces of chicken and at one point allowing an alligator to snatch a marshmallow from his mouth.

He also playfully wrestles with the gators that seem calm during the entire performance. At one point, the beast is lifted over Lacrosse’s head -like the famous scene between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.


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Louisiana man performs ‘Dirty Dancing’ trick with alligators | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman.

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Captains, pilots, most unique jobs in Louisiana, website reports

Captains, mates and the pilots of water vessels are the jobs most unique to Louisiana, according to the website Mental Floss.

The results were determined using a formula that compares the percentage a particular job makes up in a state’s workforce compared to the percentage that job occupies in the nationwide workforce.

Captains and mates are 17 times more common in Louisiana than they are nationwide. In Mississippi coil winders, tapers and finishers are 11 times more prevalent. The most unique jobs in Texas are petroleum engineers and in Alabama tire builders.

See the full story here.

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Louisiana school performance scores released; steady progress reported

The Louisiana Department of Education released school report cards Tuesday summarizing and evaluating academic achievement for the 2013-2014 school year.

Each school report card includes information used to calculate school letter grades and provides parents and educators information on the performance of schools statewide.

Student achievement results announced in the summer showed steady progress with modest improvements. School report cards and letter grade ratings reflect these modest, steady gains.

According to the report, the percentage of students scoring “mastery” and above on grade 3-8 tests increased by 1 percent in English language arts and 2 percent in math to record high levels; graduation rates rose by 1.2 percentage points to 73.5 percent, a record high; 23,560 seniors earned college-going ACT scores, a state record; and 6,407 Louisiana students earned college credit by passing an Advanced Placement test, a state record. As a result, the number of schools earning a letter grade ratings of “A” increased by 54, resulting in 241 “A” schools in 2014 compared to 187 in 2013.

“School and school district report cards are tools that parents and educators can use to understand what is happening in their schools and what choices they can make in response,” said Superintendent White. “Student performance statewide was steady in 2014, and letter grade ratings reflect this. As the state transitions gradually to higher expectations, it will become more challenging for schools and districts to maintain high ratings.”
The overall performance letter grade was a B for Bossier schools and a C for Caddo schools.

Both districts received the same grade back in 2013. While the Bossier Parish School District’s overall performance score improved by just over 2 points, Caddo’s remained the same.

DeSoto Parish retained the B the district had in 2013, but their performance score rose 2.7 points to 92.0.

The Claiborne Parish School District stayed with a D, although the district’s performance score rose just over 6 points from 60.6 to 66.5.

The Natchitoches Parish School District dropped a few points on their overall performance score, but remained a C.

Webster Parish School District letter grade remained a C, the same they received in 2013. The district’s performance score rose just .20, to 83.0.

Sabine and Bienville Parish school districts were the only 2 in Northwest Louisiana to improve by a whole letter grade, with both going from a C to a B.

2014 State Performance Summary



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Bio-Hack: 5 Reasons Why Everyone is Suddenly Putting Butter In Their Coffee

Have you heard of “bulletproof coffee”?  It involves putting grass-fed butter in your coffee, and it’s becoming quite the new thing.  Check out this article on the health benefits of bullet-proof coffee, and why you should be drinking it, too.  Who knows, maybe it will become the next item added to the Starbuck’s menu.

photo (3)

There’s a new trend going around that may forever change the way you drink coffee. Instead of the usual cream and sugar, many people are now adding butter to their coffee and it’s just about the greatest thing ever.

To most people, putting butter in their coffee sounds skeptical if not borderline dangerous, but not all butters are bad for you. In this case, there is only one kind of butter you should put in your coffee: grass-fed butter. Kerrygold unsalted brand is probably the most common that you can find in stores. But why grass-fed butter?

Most cows are corn or soy fed. It’s cheap and filling, but cows aren’t actually meant to eat that- they can’t even digest it properly- and their milk produces the kinds of fats you don’t want in your body. Grass-fed cows on the other hand commonly produce the best milk and beef, and the butter made from those cows is just as good. Here are five reasons why you should be putting this kind of butter in your coffee (and just using it in general from now on):

1. Only grass-fed butter has the right fats that regulate cholesterol, not add to it. Grass-fed butter has the best ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (which reduces body fat) and is a good source of vitamin K, both of which according to a studies reduce the risk of heart disease.

2. It provides healthy fats for your brain and body to create cell walls (membranes) and hormones. The short-chain fatty acid Butyrate, once thought to be bad for you, has been linked to preventing neurodegenerative diseases, increased energy expenditure, and is also anti-inflammatory, further preventing heart disease.

3. Drinking it each morning puts your body in the routine to burn fat all day, helping you trim down overall. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), found in grass-fed butter, has been shown to reduce body fat mass especially in overweight individuals.

4. “Bulletproof” coffee will give you energy as well as increase cognitive function that you can literally feel when it kicks in for about six hours- and without the crash. Mixed with more healthy fats from coconut oil, this amped up drink will help produce ketones, which are created when your body creates energy from fat rather than carbohydrates.

5. Two tablespoons of butter in your coffee is all you need to replace a breakfast meal altogether, making this a quick alternative for people on the go. Providing your body with essential fats and calories is a higher performance blend than a carbohydrate source like oatmeal.

When you blend it with coffee, what you get is the most pleasantly creamy drink that you can actually feel energizing your body. But why stop there? If you are going to put the best butter in your coffee, you should have the best of everything. According to bio-hacker and entrepreneur Dave Asprey, who formulated this popular blend, the quality of your coffee beans can make a noticeable difference and adding MCT oil will absolutely boost your brain’s focus in the morning. If your coffee isn’t doing it for you anymore, this is one recipe you’ll want to try. Watch the video below to try it or check out Trainer Kim‘s great blog post on it.

Bio-Hack: 5 Reasons Why Everyone is Suddenly Putting Butter In Their Coffee | NextShark.

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▶ Disney Wedding Cake Projection Mapping

Have you seen the latest in cake decorating?  It’s called “projection mapping” and Disney Weddings explains how it works.

via ▶ Disney Wedding Cake Projection Mapping – YouTube.


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▶ Disney Wedding Cake Projection Mapping | Arlen Benny Cenac – In My Kitchen.

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Gator hunting with a twist | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman

(Source: KPLC)

Gator hunting is a long-standing tradition in Louisiana. But one group put a unique twist to it.

It’s called the Fourth Annual Chute N Gators Fly-in and it attracts people from across the U.S.

They rise early, gathering for a day of gator hunting. But not in the way you might imagine.

They’re called powered parachutes and Lowell Henderson has been flying them for more than a decade.

“It pops up off the ground, inflates overhead, rolls forward and takes off,” explained Henderson, President of Bay Area Recreational Flyers.

About 150 feet off the ground, Lowell explains the birds in the sky keep an eye out for potential gators on the lines below.

“We help each other in flying and gator hunting,” said Henderson.

That’s where the boats come in.

Four years ago, Kelly Precht came up with the idea to combine his love for both flying and gator hunting – hence the name Chute N Gators Fly-in.

“We got people from Oklahoma, Missouri. They travel in and we all camp out and have a good time. I’m doing alligatoring anyway, so they come with me, and those who don’t, fly,” said Precht, founder of Chute N Gators Fly-in.

Lowell admits he’s not much of a gator hunter and prefers to be up in the sky.

“It’s a sightseeing tour for me,” said Lowell.

But fellow pilot Wayne Spring says he wanted to try something different.

“It was a perfect morning for flying but I opted to go in the boat so we could go out and get hands on experience with some of these gators,” said Spring.

His daughter Sarah got in on the action too.

Of course the whole point is to get some gators. And they did.

One after another, the group pulled in nine gators. The largest was seven feet in length.

But the event is more than just gator hunting, it’s also a chance for old friends to get together and campout for the weekend.

And for the event’s founder, Precht says, “it’s a childhood dream come true.”

The group doesn’t keep the gators. They sell them to a co-op who processes the meat and sells the hyde to a tannery.

For more information on B.A.R.F:

Additional information on Chute N Gators Fly-in:


Gator hunting with a twist – KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana.


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via Gator hunting with a twist – KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana.


Gator hunting with a twist | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman.

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Louisiana Ranks in Top Ten on Education Report Card for Parents

Louisiana ranks #7 out of all U.S. states and the District of Columbia when it comes to giving parents fundamental power over their child’s education, according to the fifth edition of Parent Power Index (PPI), released by The Center for Education Reform (CER). While only six states earn rankings above 80 percent on PPI, Louisiana scores 79 percent, falling three spots from its previous #4 ranking.

Parent Power Index is a web-based report card that evaluates and ranks states based on qualitative and proven state education policies. The higher a state’s grade, the more parents are afforded access and information about learning options that can deliver successful educational outcomes for their children.

Louisiana has adopted parent empowerment measures of national significance in the last ten years that have helped reverse decades of decline. Thousands of children once stuck in failing schools now have access to the private schools of their choice, and a robust charter law serves students in need. However, having an independent charter school authorizer would help encourage growth. Digital learning opportunities are available across the state for Louisiana students, a dramatic change in teacher tenure and accountability for all schools has been enacted, and parents have ready access to information, driving a high Parent Power Index where once no measurable parent power existed.

“While it’s true some states have made progress, it’s not nearly enough to meet demand. Simply put, we need more learning options available to more families, and we need them fast,” said Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform.

“Out of the over 54 million K-12 students nationwide, only an estimated 6.5 million students are taking advantage of charter schools, school choice programs such as vouchers or tax credits, and digital or blended learning models,” said Kerwin. ”With the United States’ school-aged population expected to grow at unprecedented rates in the next 15 years, how will our school system be able to meet demand when we already have wait lists for charter schools and oversubscribed scholarship programs?”

A median PPI score of 67.4 percent (Delaware) shows just how poorly most states have implemented policies surrounding charter schools, school choice, teacher quality, transparency, and online learning, the five main components that comprise state PPI scores. Mississippi, ranked 20, made the most progress, moving up 21 spots and breaking into the top 20 states after being in the bottom 11 states on previous analyses.

“While Louisiana is not one of the 36 states electing a new governor this fall, it’s crucial that current state leaders ensure enacting parent-empowering policies remains a top priority, as only 24 percent of Pelican State eighth graders are proficient in reading and 21 percent are proficient in math. America’s future depends on states’ ability to enact good policy to accelerate the pace of education reform and grow new and meaningful choices for parents.”

CER President Kara Kerwin and CER Executive Vice President Alison Consoletti Zgainer are available for comment on CER’s Parent Power Index. Members of the media should contact CER Communications Director Michelle Tigani at 301-986-8088 or to set up interviews.

The PPI education scorecard reveals state summary data, while full state-by-state details, including methodology, can be found at

This year’s Parent Power Index takes into account CER’s first-ever voucher and tax credit scholarship rankings and analysis, School Choice Today: Voucher Laws Across the States Ranking & Scorecard 2014 and School Choice Today: Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014.

via Louisiana Ranks in Top Ten on Education Report Card for Parents – – KTVE NBC 10 – KARD FOX 14 – Your homepage for the latest News, Weather and Sports in the ArkLaMiss!.


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Louisiana Ranks in Top Ten on Education Report Card for Parents | Arlen Benny Cenac – Education.

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Heart of Louisiana: History of Cajun culture


Acadians have been a large part of south Louisiana for more than two centuries. But some of their earliest history in the Bayou State has never been written.

Now, a team of researchers is trying to uncover the mystery and find the birthplace of Cajun culture.

Around 250 years ago, the very first Acadians to reach Louisiana made their way up Bayou Teche, a slow-moving waterway that snakes through southwest Louisiana. The 193 French-speaking Acadians were expelled from their homes in Nova Scotia by the British.

“We want to know how they survived, what they lived in. When they first got here, there was absolutely nothing that we know of,” said Al Broussard.

Broussard is the mayor of the small village of Loreauville, located on Bayou Teche. He has traced his ancestry directly to those very first settlers. He is a 9th generation descendant of leader Joseph Beausoleil Broussard and his brother Alexandre Broussard. But shortly after their arrival, 34 of the settlers, including Beausoleil, died of disease.

“You know, it would be so nice to know that my grandfather’s remains are somewhere on this property near the bayou and go there and kneel and pray and thank him for preserving us and letting us be who we are,” said Broussard.

But where those settlers lived, died and were buried is a mystery.

Researchers are confident that Joseph Beausoleil Broussard and his group of Acadians settled in the general area near the present-day town of Loreauville. But pinpointing the exact site of their homes and their graves is quite the challenge.

Students Maegan smith and Christian Sheumaker of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette are searching along the edges of sugarcane fields and cemeteries within a stone’s throw of Bayou Teche.

“That can be kind of difficult, especially around the Teche where there’s a lot, a lot of stuff,” explained Smith. “Not necessarily what we’re looking for, not the specific time period.”

Clues can come in the tiny form of a piece of pottery.

Mark Rees, an archeological anthropologist at ULL, is leading the search.

“The very idea that they are buried in unmarked graves along the Teche somewhere at the first locations, the first settlements and that these places are still unmarked strikes a lot of people who are the descendants as sad, and as something that needs to be corrected,” explained Rees.

Rees believes that the popular Longfellow poem ‘Evangeline’ satisfied some people’s need to know where they came from. For generations, people have visited the Evangeline statue and oak tree in St. Martinville, which are linked to a fictional story of the Acadians’ arrival. Now, the focus is on artifacts and history.

“The priest who traveled with them in 1765 recorded at least 34, maybe as many as 44, burials of the Acadians who arrived here. He recorded the dates, and interestingly, the places and he named these places, the different camps,” said Rees.

The ‘camps’ and burials are believed to be within a four mile radius of Loreauville. Old burial plots are being scrutinized.

“This is, of course, called a Broussard cemetery of which there are many,” said Christian Sheumaker. “But the property owners do have information and paperwork declaring that there are up to six or seven children buried here.”

No one expects a quick discovery.

“I think this is at very minimum a 3-5 year effort to do a survey of this scope and to find the sites,” said Rees.

With each dig, sites are eliminated. Researchers hope each step moves them closer to finding the very spot where Cajun history began.

Additional links: 




Written by: Dave McNamara, Heart of Louisiana

Heart of Louisiana: History of Cajun culture – FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports.


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Study: Which brands people Google the most in Louisiana

Louisianans are a fiercely loyal bunch of people when it comes to their favorite brands. Do you love that chicken from Popeyes or Church’s? Do make groceries at Rouses or Winn-Dixie?

Point Blank, the official blog of financing company Direct Capital, analyzed which brand each state in the U.S. Googled the most.

The top brand searched on Google in Louisiana is telecommunications giant AT&T. Most states favored some of the biggest companies in the nation. Texas searched for Facebook. Arkansas sought out Walmart. Mississippi looked for Chevron.

“Digging deeper into our survey, the #2 favorite brand of each state offers a closer look at regional preferences,” the blog said.

For Louisiana, that was Domino’s Pizza. The third most searched brand might come as a surprise for people in the Pelican state. It is Aeropostale, a company that sells clothing for guys and girls. The company’s shops are usually located inside malls. They also offer online sales.

Direct Capital explained its methodology behind the study.

“We compiled our list of top brands by state using keyword search popularity from Google Trends. The Google Trends tool provides data for the history and volume of Google searches performed for branded terms, as well as the popularity of a branded searches across different cities and states in the US,” according to the blog. “The maps featured throughout this article were constructed by testing a base list of 200+ US brand names and their results in Google Trends. The states were assigned a ‘top’ brand for the brand that was most popular from our list in that region.”


Study: Which brands people Google the most in Louisiana – FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports.


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Special Deer Hunting Season for Honorably Discharged Louisiana Vets via Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman

Honorably discharged, Louisiana resident veterans will have extra hunting dates on private lands during the 2014-15 Louisiana deer hunting season.

Legislative action initiated by Rep. Jeff Thompson (Dist. 8, Bossier City) during the 2014 Regular Legislative Session, and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal as Act 678, provides a special deer season for Louisiana residents who are honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. This season will run concurrently with the open Youth Season in all zones, and will be restricted to hunting on private lands.

“Louisiana has a long and rich tradition of those who serve our nation and protect our freedom. As the Sportsman’s Paradise, it is appropriate we show our appreciation with this special hunting season for these heroes,” said Thompson
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted in June the following dates for a special Resident Honorably Discharged Veterans Deer Season on private lands:

Areas 1, 4, 5, 6, and 9: Oct. 25-31

Area 2: Oct. 11-17

Areas 3, 7, 8, and 10: Sept. 27-Oct. 3.

This special deer season, which is available for youth (ages 17 and younger) and physically challenged hunters, precedes the opening weekend of regular firearms season.

The 2014-15 Louisiana Hunting Regulations booklet contains the complete listing of all deer season dates in the 10 designated deer areas in the state. To view the booklet on line, go to .


via Special Deer Hunting Season for Honorably Discharged La. Vets | | Acadiana-Lafayette, Louisiana.


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Special Deer Hunting Season for Honorably Discharged Louisiana Vets | Benny Cenac – Louisiana Sportsman.

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Louisiana could be underwater in the next 50 years | CCTV America via Benny Cenac – My Louisiana

Interesting video report showing the alarming effect coastal erosion will have on Louisiana.



The state of Louisiana is facing an environmental threat because of its unique geographical location and climate change. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Louisiana is drowning.

Within the next 50 years, most of the southeastern part of the state, not protected by levees, could be underwater. According to some projections, the southern part of Louisiana could be 1.3 meters underwater by the end of this century. The city of New Orleans could be 83 percent underwater.

The global economic impact could be enormous. This area is home to half of the country’s oil refineries, a major port that 31 states depend on, a gateway for international exports and where more than two million people live.

Global warming would likely only make the challenges more difficult. The state has an ambitious plan costing tens of billions of dollars to divert sentiment and restore marshlands.


Louisiana could be underwater in the next 50 years | CCTV America.

via Louisiana could be underwater in the next 50 years | CCTV America.


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Louisiana could be underwater in the next 50 years | CCTV America | Benny Cenac – My Louisiana.

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