Rockefeller Refuge Part 2
Besides alligators, scientists here study coastal restoration and marsh management. Rockefeller Refuge stretches for more than 26 miles along a fluid and dynamic coastline. Rockefeller was originally an 86,000 acre reserve. Now it has shrunk to less than 76,000 acres. The Gulf of Mexico is encroaching inland at the alarming rate of 40 feet per year. The equivalent of one and a half football fields PER WEEK! Statewide the loss is even more staggering. Over the past seventy years, Louisiana has lost over 1,500 square miles of marsh, and is still losing 25 to 30 square miles each year...with nearly a football field of beneficial wetlands lost every 30 minutes! We lose much when we lose Louisiana wetlands. They produce 30 percent of the nation's seafood, provide habitat for migratory waterfowl, and support a unique culture. Scientists at Rockefeller study the use of breakwaters, levees, and other techniques to prevent the loss of precious wetlands to the advancing tides. They also study how to improve wildlife habitat. According to a biologist at Rockefeller "the duck stops here!" Historically Rockefeller would be home to more than 400,000 wintering ducks. Recent declines in North American populations due to habitat destruction on their breeding grounds have reduced this number to a still impressive 100,000 to 150,000 wintering waterfowl. These fertile waters produce a rich supply of fish and seafood. In fact, a shrimp weighing a pound and a half was raised in these waters. Marsh management here has resulted in a wildlife resource that attracts over 100,000 visitors each year. If you visit this outdoor research site you may wish to drive the Price Lake Road, a five-mile nature drive, located just west of Rockefeller Headquarters. The late wildlife ecologist Durward Allen wrote in his classic, "Our Wildlife Legacy," that the first obstacle to better fishing and hunting is "biological and ecological ignorance" adding that "Wildlife investigations are the means of keeping the costs of our failures down." Rockefeller Refuge is home to such research.