What started with a small group of people in Arnaudville as an effort to pull debris from the bayou has become a movement championed by communities and volunteers. The Teche Ecology, Culture and History Education Project started in 2008 and, after more than a decade, has now become what we call a “Teche Renaissance.” Our nonprofit organization has grown to include more than 400 individuals passionate about making Bayou Teche a healthier waterway for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, tubing and even swimming!
Our work as a nonprofit focuses on three ideas: ENRICH It, EXPLORE It and EMBRACE It. We are working to improve the overall ecological health and water quality of the Bayou Teche corridor, enhance travelers’ experiences with facilities that ease access and navigation of the bayou, and celebrate Bayou Teche with personal experiences, programs and events.
Along with aesthetics and recreation, we advocate for improved water quality in the Bayou Teche watershed. Bayou Teche is on the federal list of impaired waterways. By reducing pollution, mainly household sewage and agricultural run-off, we can help restore this habitat. Volunteer crews have worked to pull nearly 54 tons of garbage from the bayou. We have also worked with folks in St. Mary Parish to pull exotic water hyacinth out of the bayou. We hold public cleanups regularly and encourage volunteers with motorboats, kayaks and canoes to join us. In addition to cleanups, we conduct bank-line restoration and wood duck management workshops.
We are working to make Bayou Teche whole again through action and education about its ecology, culture and history. To that end, we successfully got Bayou Teche designated as the only National Water Trail in Louisiana in 2015! The expansion of water trails across the nation is vital to a sustainable future, not just for the environment, but for our communities and economy. The Bayou Teche Paddle Trail is a catalyst for the conservation of our national waterways.
Our annual Shake Your Trail Feather Festival celebrates the Bayou Teche National Water and Paddle Trail. We invite you to join us in October to paddle the bayou and enjoy our cultural and musical celebration.
The TECHE Project has productive relationships with local, state and national government agencies and organizations, including the Louisiana Office of State Parks, state and local tourism offices, the Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District, the Bayou Vermilion Preservation Association and Bayou Vermilion District. We also have a growing list of annual business supporters that are very active in helping carry out our mission.
We welcome new programming related to the ecology, culture or history of Bayou Teche. Drop us an email if you are interested in learning how you can create and direct a program about Bayou Teche. The Teche is one of the most historically and culturally significant bayous in Acadiana, and we are working to ensure it is protected and celebrated for generations to come.
Check out Historian and Archivist Shane Bernard’s blog logging his research for his book about the Teche: http://bayoutechedispatches.blogspot.com.