Public Lab Research note

Bohemia Spillway kite photos

by eustatic | April 09, 2012 06:20 09 Apr 06:20 | #1633 | #1633

Way, way down at the end of the road, the Mississippi River has broken through its barriers to flood the marshes of Bohemia. On April 7th, we hiked down the flooded road to take a peek, and took the kite with us to gain some perspective.

For the past few years, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation has tracked wetlands and the hydrodynamics at the site, which is unique along the river for having no levee to restrain the river.

In 2011, the river bucked and began to carve a new channel to the Gulf.

We hiked into the road breach site, and took turbidity and kite photos while we were there. The water was a bit intimidating.

The plan is to return with a balloon and a powered boat (and hopefully an IR camera) to get LPBF some nice aerials. I think we also captured some of the 2012 attempts to rebuild the (permitted?) oil and gas access road across this new spur of the river (good luck, puny humans).


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This kite photo was discussed on the Open Hour Energy Call. Ann Chen wanted to discuss how to document things other than energy infrastructure. Ann raised concerns that explicitly mapping natural resource could speed up destruction of those resources. In this case, the government, perhaps, has already, politically, answered the question "is the destruction caused by the energy project worth it?" and scientific documentation will not aid the decision making process.

This picture is not a map, but a photo of a brand new river. I find that it helps explain the thing that will be lost if the oil and gas company has its way.

The Mississippi River threw off its shackles and created a new distributary. With it's large, muddy fist, it broke through a road. This road is maintained by an oil and gas company. The company wants to build their road back, but doing so will dam this river. I think this picture helps communicate the power of the river, the scale of the river versus the road and that sentiment without giving you an explicit location.

But maybe it doesn't! in what ways does this photograph totally fail?!?

Aerial photography won't always be the right tool to speak truth to powers that be. but it's a broader tool than just mapping. Mapping doesn't have to be aerial photography either, but we didn't discuss that. Mapping can be topological without being topographical, if that makes any sense. Power speaks through geography, though, so often when we are documenting things we are trying to document, in an official way, what local experts experience in the environment.

But sometimes we are merely trying to communicate something, in an evocative way, to search and find allies to help us. Then, perhaps, we need not obsess over trying to speak languages of power, but only to communicate that we are in a place, that we value a place, and the energy project may erase it, you can't erase it from our memory.

During the call, we discussed audio as documentation. of Frogs, who only call at night, for example. I feel that sonic impacts are often overlooked because our (post)modern media are so visually oriented, to the point of obsession.

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That above photo of Mardi Gras Pass was taken from an airplane.

Here is Paul's map, linked to Mapknitter2

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