Mar 10, 2015
JENNINGS, LA -- The same folks who host the Yellow Rails and Rice Festival each fall have organized a new festival, called "Waders in Working Wetlands: Shorebird Extravaganza," that highlights the springtime abundance of bird life in the rice-crawfish agricultural areas of southwest Louisiana.
The new festival is scheduled for April 29 - May 3 and based on the Shorebird Blitz, an "all-out shorebird count" in Louisiana's southwest rice-growing region, first held in May 2010.
USA Rice Federation has joined 46 other organizations in support of the festival, including Ducks Unlimited. Registration is online and includes a choice of field trips, socials, and workshops.
"The Yellow Rails Festival is a great showcase for the harmonious relationship between working ricelands and wildlife habitat," said festival co-founder and Chairman of the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board Kevin Berken. "The Shorebird Extravaganza will complement our fall festival by providing birders the opportunity to see many additional species not present during late fall. In the spring, the birds will be singing and in gorgeous breeding plumage."
Berken continued, "Many species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles take advantage of the wetland habitat created by rice farmers, making rice a unique agricultural crop where food production and conservation go hand in hand."
Birding conservation and rice lands are attracting more and more attention lately. In addition to being a part of the national USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Louisiana recently received $1.2 million of its own from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service to help fund three state conservation programs that work on rice, waterfowl, water quantity, quality, and sustainability.
"Festivals like ours draw public attention to the good conservation work already being undertaken by rice growers, and serve as proof positive to legislators and regulators that rice lands have enormous value beyond the commercial agriculture aspects," added Berken.