November 2010 - Parks & Recreation - 46

after the spill
Grand Isle, Louisiana: Devastation

44	 Parks & Recreation

No v e m b e r 2 0 1 0

www.NRPA .ORG

	

timeline

	

April 20 	Well

blowout and explosion on
Deepwater Horizon

	

April 22 	

	

April 25 	Leak

	

April 30 	President

Deepwater Horizon sinks
estimated at 1,000 barrels per day

Obama halts
new offshore drilling

	

May 2 	Drilling

	

May 6 	Oil

	

May 8 	

	

May 11 	Flow

	

May 13 	First

	

May 16 	Tube

	

May 26 	Top

	

May 28 	President

	

May 30 	BP

	

June 1 	Oil

	

June 4 	President

	

June 6 	Cap

	

June 12 	Leak

	

June 14 	President

	

June 16 	BP

	

June 28 	Oil

Containment dome fails
estimates now 20,000 barrels
per day
underwater video of leak released

begins to capture some oil
from pipe
kill fails
Obama visits Grand Isle, LA

CEO Tony Hayward says
he wants his life back
washes up at Gulf Islands
National Seashore
Obama visits Grand Isle again

starts to capture
10,000 barrels per day
estimate revised to
40,000 barrels per day
Obama visits Pensacola Beach

establishes $20 billion
compensation fund
reaches Gulfport beaches

	

July 15 	Tighter

	

July 26 	Tony

	

August 3 	Total

	

August 4 	

	

of relief well begins

washes up at Breton Natl.
Wildlife Refuge

cap stops flow of oil

Hayward announces resignation

dispersant use estimated at
2 million gallons
Static kill plugs well

August 14 	President

	S eptember 19 	

Obama swims in Gulf
at Panama City, FL
Well permanently sealed

	S eptember 23 	Total

spill estimated at 4.4 million barrels

	 October 13 	Offshore drilling ban lifted

nancy ross/ istockphoto. crab: tamara augustine

Grand Isle State Park occupies nearly a sixth of the seven-mile-long island for which it is named. Because of its
pristine wilderness and far southern location, the park has always been a favored area for birds and wildlife. Its popular
pier, only recently re-opened after destruction by Hurricane
Katrina in 2005, extends far enough into the Gulf of Mexico to
allow fishermen to catch just about any kind of Gulf fish without the aid of boats. When the oil struck, the park closed its
beaches but left the pier open, as well as the rest of the park.
While no one could fish from the pier, it quickly became the
prime viewing spot for media and the curious public. The
view wasn't pretty.
Park manager Tamara Augustine describes the destruction
of wildlife as " devastating " for several months.
" We saw significant numbers of oiled birds-pelicans, plovers, gulls, terns, pretty much all of the shore birds, " Augustine says. She says the gulls were the last to be affected, toward
September. Although they are awaiting laboratory tests, Augustine suspects their diet of crabs, shrimp, and fish combined
with immersion in oil finally got to the gulls. Because wildlife
living in Grand Isles's marshes and lagoons would frequent
Gulf tidal pools, they, too, got caught up.
" Disturbing is the best word I can use, " Augustine says, " to
know there really wasn't very much you could do. Not only
were they steeping in oil or getting it on their feathers that they
would preen, but they also were eating it. "
Augustine laughs when asked if anything in her training
could have prepared her for such an event.
" There is nothing in the policy manual up until this point that
could ever prepared anybody for something like we had, because of the high amount of traffic coming into the park, " she says.
" To put it in perspective, we had upwards of 25,000 people coming into the park on a monthly basis to deal with the oil spill-plus
the media we had in the park was quite overwhelming. Add to that
the environmental impact and the curious visitors, and altogether
we were looking at four months of chaos at the park, and to say
that we could be prepared for that would be pretty far-fetched. "
Knowing the oil was coming, however, did give Augustine
and her staff time to prepare as best they could. They took hazardous materials classes to learn how to deal with toxic materials as well as other instruction in how to be safe.
" Once the oil hit, we did definitely go into a mode where
were ready to deal with the effects of the oil-speaking with
officials on a regular basis, trying to get a handle on what was
being done, how it was getting done, " she says. " I started
speaking with anybody I could find, even before the oil had
even hit our beaches. "
Augustine spent a good deal of time simply in limiting the
impact of the influx of people on the park. It's been an ongoing
effort, since the shoreline has yet to be fully cleaned up, especially in the more remote wetlands areas. Fort Livingston, a



November 2010 - Parks & Recreation

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