So far, federal efforts to fight the coast-destroying nutria rodent have been isolated to Louisiana. A new bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, would expand the effort to include all states that have nutria. That would be good news for such states as Oregon and California, which have been sorely tried by the rodent.
More than 40 square miles of Louisiana’s coast have been turned into open water by nutria over the past two decades, according to the state Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Graves told the House, “Nearly 4.5 million people live in Louisiana, yet we have an estimated 20 million nutria … 20 million! It’s an extraordinary figure.” Graves said the nutria were an example of “infestation without representation.” He added, “we need to do something about it.”
In an effort to reverse the decline in hunter involvement in Louisiana’s bounty program, the Wildlife and Fisheries Dept. recently increased the bounty from $5 to $6 for each nutria. The number of nutria killed dropped by more than a third in the 2016 hunting season alone.
During the last season, participants in Louisiana’s nutria-hunting program collected 223,000 tails. That’s one percent of the state’s estimated nutria population.
Louisiana’s efforts to interest consumers in nutria dishes and accessories made of nutria have been failures to date. Graves’ bill has passed the House; it awaits Senate approval.
The French Table
The movement to study and practice French-speaking in Southwest Louisiana and Acadiana keeps picking up steam. The Teche Center for the Arts (TCA) will be hosting the French Table every week on Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7 pm, at Tante Marie, 107 N Main St., in Breaux Bridge. Attendance is free and open to all ages.
Table Français chez Tante Marie is led by Ms. Ray Cloutier, the director of events at Tante Marie. Cloutier is from Québec, Canada, but she has lived here nearly 20 years. She calls herself “Cana-Jun.”
She welcomes everyone who wants to learn, speak and practice French. All levels of French are perfectly acceptable.
In 2014, TCA’s vice chairman, Carl Brazell, started the TCA French Table as a joint venture with CODOFIL (the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, which is part of the state’s office of culture). Brazell says, “We hope people who are curious about French, who may start out as listeners, will join us and find the confidence and knowledge to have conversations in French. Being in a circle of neighbors and friends helps you feel comfortable speaking.”
Scott Schilling, the owner of Tante Marie says, “We saw an opportunity to help more people in the community find a spot to speak French and enjoy a meal or beverage … We invite folks to be a part of this group and want them to feel at home here. Come speak a little French with us …”
Le Restaurant de Tante Marie is in the historic Broussard Hardware building in downtown Breaux Bridge. Cornell Comeaux created Le Restaurant de Tante Marie in honor of his grandmother. He’s expanding the kitchen to include a robust southern style of food, with a full coffee, beer, wine and liquor bar. The venue is meant to serve as a center for local art, music and other entertainment; learn more at the aptly named jamsandbiscuits.com.
The Teche Center for the Arts, at 210 E. Bridge Street in downtown Breaux Bridge, is a cultural, arts, music, education and historical center for St. Martin Parish. It was recently extensively renovated. It features music, art, theater, literary arts and Cajun and Creole culture. A primary focus at TCA is teaching children the French Cajun and Creole language of the region.
TCA began to offer programs in 2014 in the 1940s-era movie theater variously known as the Dan and the Murphy “The Murph” Theater. It’s home to art exhibitions, concerts and summer camps in such subjects as robotics, Cajun and Creole cooking, French songs and games and theatre arts. It’s also the home of the Treble on the Teche music camp. Get more info at techecenterforthearts.com. To learn more about the French Table, call Tante Marie at 337-442-6354.
French Programs For Children
Louisiana Public Broadcasting, also known as LPB, is also doubling down on its efforts to preserve Louisiana’s French language heritage. They just completed a two-year renewal of their contract with Groupe Média TFO, which provides French educational content in North America. That means that LPB will provide two more years of educational programming in French on its 24-hour children’s channel PBS Kids.
The LPB Network is “very proud to offer unique and fun learning experiences for Francophone and Francophiles in Louisiana.”
LPB provides 14 hours of French-language programming for children 2 to 8 every week. In addition to this content, there are French-language versions of some favorite PBS children’s shows, such as Peg + Chat (Peg + Cat) and Le Village de Dany (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood).
“Proudly educational and proudly Francophone, TFO is happy to contribute to the growth of minority French-speaking communities in Canada and all across the world. By renewing this broadcasting partnership with LPB, we ensure that the Francophone heritage of Louisiana is celebrated and that it resonates for new and future generations,” said Éric Minoli, chief operating officer, Groupe Média TFO.
The TFO Creations programs on LPB reinforce LPB’s common mission with CODOFIL to provide enjoyable educational experiences for French immersion students and a powerful instruction tool for French teachers in Louisiana.