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    Louisiana National Guard assists with coastal restoration

    Louisiana National Guard assists with coastal restoration

    Photo By Sgt. Michael Owens | Louisiana National Guard UH-60 Black Hawks of the 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Michael Owens 

    Louisiana National Guard

    NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana National Guard participated in the annual Christmas tree drop, March 30, at the Bayou Sauvage Wildlife Refuge in eastern New Orleans.

    The Louisiana National Guard's 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment partnered with the City of New Orleans and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and placed bundles of recycled Christmas trees in the refuge's wetlands in an effort to help fight erosion.

    Using four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, the Guardsmen successfully hooked, lifted and dropped nearly 170 bundles, averaging between 50 and 100 trees each, and placed them in stacks forming barriers against waves when the water starts to get rough.

    "The purpose of the trees is to serve as a breakwater," said Wynecta Fisher, director of the New Orleans Office of Environmental Affairs. "They actually break the waves."

    Another purpose of the operation is for the trees to trap silt, so that new plants and trees can grow in order to help restore the wetlands.

    "We are actually placing the trees in the same spot as last year," said Drew Wirwa, of the FWS and manager of Bayou Sauvage. "You can see where some of last year's trees scattered as a result of waves; we want to replace them with new ones in order to keep the barriers fresh and to create sediment for new plant life."

    The Louisiana National Guard's State Aviation Command has assisted in this effort since it started in 1989. New Orleans and FWS officials have expressed their gratitude towards the Guard's efforts in this project.

    "I am very grateful and appreciative of the Louisiana National Guard," said Fisher. "We definitely could not accomplish any of this without their help and support."

    As the pilots hovered over the readied bundles, the Guardsmen on the ground, Blackhawk crew members, placed a strap around the cargo hook at the bottom of the aircraft. Once the helicopter reached its destination, the crew member inside the aircraft released the load to fall into its spot.

    After the trees were dropped, staff members of the refuge scrambled to free them from the harnesses that were used for the lifting operation.

    In other parishes, the trees are carried by boat to their location but due to the shallow marsh areas in New Orleans, they must be lifted and dropped by helicopter.

    "An average Blackhawk can lift about 8,000 pounds," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Stephen L. Maldonado, a pilot with the 1/244th. "Each bundle weighs about 2,500 pounds, so we are not lifting nearly half of what we can."



    Date Taken: 04.01.2010
    Date Posted: 04.01.2010 18:41
    Story ID: 47565
    Location: NEW ORLEANS, LA, US 

    Web Views: 294
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