Banks of Bayou Gauche a little cleaner now

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / March 10, 1999

BAYOU GAUCHE – Six trustys from the St. Charles Parish CorrectionalCenter joined volunteers and Sheriff Greg C. Champagne in cleaning BayouGauche’s banks of trash and debris Thursday.

Champagne commented: “Some people asked us to consider it. People dobring tours here and tourists notice.”With a half-dozen mudboats and flatboats, one inmate assigned to each, the boats scattered from Fisherman’s Wharf to fill 38 huge bags of trash.

Among the items found were many aluminum cans, icebags, plastic six- pack rings, milk cartons, oil cans and glass bottles and jars.

A truck from the parish’s Public Works Department hauled away the trash to the landfill, but some items missed the truck, including an automobile gas tank.

“You go back a quarter mile, there’s trash all up there,” said Arthur Matherne of Arthur’s Airboat Tours. “People are getting better but there’s50 years of trash up there.”The cleanup was suggested by Arthur and his first cousin, Gordon Matherne, of Gordon’s Professional Guide Service.

The cleanup was supervised by the sheriff’s Marine Division, headed by Lt.

Leroy Matherne, and the bags were donated by Monsanto.

The clear skies and good weather made it easier for boats to locate and recover the trash, often using “grabbers” normally used for frogging.

Champagne said he wanted to do the cleanup after winter but before the spread of lillies.

Arthur Matherne also got lucky, finding a vinyl seat cover he thought long lost. After a quick rinse in the bayou’s murky water to knock the ants off,he carefully draped it over a small bush to dry out.

Matherne also recalled a recent brush with a litterer, and said he almost got into a fistfight over the incident.

He said he drove past the man and saw him throw a beer can overboard. Onanother pass, a potato chip bag went into the water. Matherne recoveredthe items, dropped them back into the man’s boat and told him, “You want your back yard like this? I consider this MY back yard.”This isn’t the first such cleanup, but one of the highest-visibility ones, Champagne said. Others have been done in other parish canals and in theBonnet Carre Spillway.

He was impressed with the results and hoped to plan another as soon as possible, weather permitting.

“This is too pretty to see trash along the banks,” Champagne said.

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