Louisiana Wetlands Keeping it Local in Covington

Fragile wetlands across the country are experiencing losses at an alarming rate.

Louisiana’s vast marshland ecosystem is vital to the state’s recreational and agricultural interests and supporting its preservation means understanding just what it has to offer. Byron and Chad Almquist, the father-son team that own and operate the guide service, Canoe & Trail, have been paddling these waters for over 40 years now. They’re going to guide me through the waters around Covington and teach me about the fascinating ecology of these wonderful wetlands. So now tell me about Canoe & Trail, how long have you guys had this business? Business is about 45 years old. I started a store selling canoes and camping gear and tents and I thought if I had canoe trips and canoe lessons, more people go canoeing. Canoe & Trail is mostly the canoe and paddling and kayaking trips. You know, it’s almost entirely water related. Well we make a distinction between recreation and education, so Chad has started this whole other full business of taking tourists outdoors so a lot of education because they’re really eager to listen. You’re a good example see this is a very healthy ecological area because the Cypress look good, here’s some teenagers, the Cypress do not easily germinate so to see young Cypress is really good. I just can’t assume a Cypress forest will generate and keep going.

Louisiana Wetlands Keeping it Local in Covington Photo Gallery

As far as the ecotourism trend goes, it used to be feeding alligators. Yep, everybody was sit on a power boat with 30 other people and people found us. We bought a van and found a route that works. We’ve done Moonlight trips forever. We try and feel our way back without lights. You can sort of get a feel even in the dark coming down the Bayou. You see the spotlight and scan the shoreline you see orange eyes looking back at you. That’s always a good thing to see. Okay. The bigger and the wider interest in ecotourism is where tourism should go in Louisiana because there’s so much beauty and nature here.

Well there’s a grey. I saw a blue heron, a Great Egret, so and I also saw an osprey nest. Yep. So what are some of the other birds that are here? We’re close to Wildlife Refuge. It’s built for migratory wild birds. Big numbers there’s no.. there in little waiting ponds, little ponds like this. So you won’t see them unless you go in the boat? Yeah. How many kinds of birds can you see? Oh depends on the time of year.

Over four seasons a good birder can pick up several hundred. That’s a central fly way they come down Mississippi River and this is very very strong hooting boys. So thank you so much today, I had the best time. You’re welcome thank you for coming. Yep, come back again. I will, absolutely. After a vigorous morning of paddling on the swamp I’ve worked up a real thirst. I’m heading over to Chafunkta Brewery, one of the area’s newest craft breweries. I’m going to sit down with Lauren Turner, semi-finalists from American Idol, to talk about Covington and throw back a beer or two. Thank you so much for coming today.

No problem. I know that you are from American Idol When I was on American Idol, I definitely like I wanted to bring some, you know, New Orleans, Louisiana, you know, Covington, I guess Mandeville soul to the show. So what are you doing now for music? I have been writing and recording my original music. I have a single out, it’s called Deja Vu. So, you’ve been all over the world, all over the country, and you came home. I did yeah. So, what’s magical about this place? You pick any bar or restaurant around here and sit down at the bar and it’s a guarantee you will meet somebody that has something interesting to say. We have local beers here that we, you know, we love to share that. So some of your favorites? One of the newer ones is called Chafunkta and I really love their brewery. Named after a river, I think? It is, it’s named after a river, but I think it’s really creative, it’s got like a K in it so it’s like funkta.

So, what are some other places that you love? The Abita Brewery and the Covington Brewhouse. The Old Rail is another place that I really like, it’s a really cool restaurant near lakefront and then of course the other one was Barley Oak. That’s on the lakefront, really fun atmosphere, looks like an old-fashioned bar and they just have a whole bunch of different local beers there. Well good, I’m getting thirsty. Me too. Let’s drink some beer. Alright. Okay. Thanks for having us today. Laura and I are very excited to drink some beer.

So you guys have tours every week. Yes, we call it Free Tour Friday and people come and they could try out all four beers. They’re family-oriented, my kids are here almost every Friday with us. This is an area where there’s a lot of other craft breweries. We were actually number seven in the whole state of Louisiana and I think there’s about to be 30. Wow, so it’s become kind of a boom in the last two years. Really, it has. So you guys have four beers right now. We do, yes. This is my favorite.

It is called Old 504. It is a vanilla coffee Porter. Ah! Smells like coffee. Yes. We use whole vanilla beans from Ronnie Reginald’s in New Orleans and then our coffee is from Orleans Coffee Exchange from Kenner. That is good! That has been delicious! Thank you, I appreciate it. Cheers! Thanks for reading. To plan your own adventure visit LouisianaTravel.com.

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