Friends of Bayou Lafourche

The country’s economic bricks have fallen out of place like the game Jenga.

The world has wavered this past two months due to COVID-19.

We have stood on soft and unstable ground of the unknown. Although, civilians stand in dark and tainted buildings of ambiguity, leaders, and organizers are sledgehammering through walls to find light. They trudge on towards the future with insight and supporting nails to hammer into wood of stability.

Ryan Perque, Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Friends of Bayou Lafourche, is one of those insightful leaders who is still working for the good of Bayou Lafourche.

In 2017, Friends of Bayou Lafourche was formed. Perque was appointed Executive Director who has governmental and outreach experience. Also, during the year 2017, a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement was signed by Friends of Bayou Lafourche and Nicholls State University to develop the Nicholls Bayou Side Master Plan to set up fruition of land progression. Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou assisted in the funding for the master plan. The progress will take place across from Nicholls State University. It will entail seven and a half acres of trailheads, floating dock, pavilion, amphitheater, outdoor classrooms, etc. The project will be considered a “brick and mortar” design.

In 2018, the organization applied for a state managed grant funded through the federal government. Then, in 2019 they received confirmation of funding that was requested. The permit process was also “stamped and approved”.

“It’s our goal to at least break ground on a project at least once a year. We are always thinking ahead. There is a lot of planning and funding requests that go into this. It’s just a matter of staying on it,” Perque said.

Friends of Bayou Lafourche consists of two categories:

Brick and Mortar – (Engineered Projects)

-Parks launches

-Docks

-Pavilions

-Trailheads

Recreation – (Utilizes the Bayou)

-Events and Happenings

The organization has developed into an information hub to keep citizens informed about recreational and “brick and mortar” planning and achievements. Residents from Donaldsonville to Fourchon can “tune in” to a single agency instead of seeking information from several levee districts and tourism agencies.

“We’re able to help perform outreach and get the word out. We’re keeping people involved about what we’re doing,” Perque said.

Friends of Bayou Lafourche is an organization that was recognized as a necessary need by residents and the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District (local government agency).

“It’s a single source for happenings and an organization committed to recreational enhancements for the bayou,” Perque added.

The organization is not only an information source for the public, but it is also an institution that applies enhancements to Bayou Lafourche. Perque is committed to promoting the usability and nostalgia of the Louisiana waterway.

“The organization is dedicated to recreational enhancements and outreach for the bayou to keep the community involved,” Perque said with importance.

Friends of Bayou Lafourche Funds are utilized for the recreational enhancements/ “brick and mortar” projects. Their funds are contributed by members of the program, fundraisers, Lorio Foundation, events, and individual donations to the program.

As indicated, the enterprise gets a portion of its funding from events and happenings. As of now, due to the stay-at-home status, events have been postponed along Bayou Lafourche such as The St. Patrick’s Day Event on the Bayou, Bayou cleanup, and Paddle by Lafourche, a Three-day paddle trip from Donaldsonville to Raceland. The paddle trip is sponsored by Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program.

The membership program is a tiered donation system and heavily relied on. When Louisiana opens the door to public functions once again, Friends of Bayou Lafourche will architect a plan to orchestrate pertinent fundraising and reschedule events.

“People have been extremely generous to us. It is our hopes to push that push that in the third quarter of the year. It’s our hopes to have some success with that, to get through this year and look at other avenues to subsidize,” Perque stated.

“On the short-term aspect relative to events and fundraising. There is a lot of unknowns right now, to be completely honest,” he added.

The same notion is prevalent within all businesses and organizations…uncharted and foggy waters.

“We lay the groundwork for a lot of the projects that we’re able to continue to move forward on. Hopefully, things with the virus begin to improve and we can get back to work on events and allow people to use the bayou. There’s certainly some unknowns such as the donations and memberships we rely on to continue our operations,” Perque also stated.

Although events and other functions have come to a halt, a big accomplishment appeared as the light in the dubious room. Phase one of the Nicholls Master Plan, mentioned earlier, is scheduled to be constructed across from the Culinary Institute. It will involve tree clearing, earth work, off-street parking, a connection to existing walking trails, a pavilion on the bayou side, and a floating dock with access to the bayou.

“We still feel confident that we’ll be able to break ground on the Nicholls' project this year. We do not see a huge impact there. Then, again things may change. We are still moving forward with breaking ground on that project. It was a big step to hire the design firm for the project,” Perque said with confidence.

The organization is still flowing like the waters of Bayou Lafourche. Friends of Bayou Lafourche has scheduled projects for the next three years.

“We’re scheduled out with projects till 2022. We’re still looking way ahead and doing our due diligence to make sure to continue our efforts down the road,” Perque said with reassurance.

The leader has projected the hopeful future and has also given encouragement to the community during this unreliable time.

The Friends of Bayou Lafourche has partnered with the city of Thibodaux, the Lafourche Parish Government, the Thibodaux and Lafourche chamber of Commerce, and Thibodaux Main Street Incorporation to inspire the usage of the “Support Lafourche Task List”.

The task list entails a series of assignments that residents can partake in. These tasks support local businesses, keep civilians active, supports and encourages workers on the front lines, and initiatives to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Friends of Bayou Lafourche and sponsoring partners compiled this list to outreach and support our local economy and residents.

“We want to support the businesses that have supported us for so long. We’re doing a little bit of what we can to support those that have always supported our events, our memberships, and our sponsorships,” Ryan said with gratitude.

The “Support Lafourche Task” List can be found on Facebook – Friends of Bayou Lafourche

When residents complete a task, you must post and tag to social media using the hashtag - #Support Lafourche

When you complete an assignment, free gifts will be given from the sponsors that have participated.

Ryan Perque has a deep admiration of Bayou Lafourche and its residents. He is a caring leader and actively seeks to achieve beautification of the Louisiana waterway. Claiming the title, Executive Director of “Friends of Bayou Lafourche”, has brought him great joy.

“It is very awarding. I wish we were in a position where we could be building ten projects. There is so much potential for Bayou Lafourche. It is exciting to be able to make enhancements, make positive changes to the bayou that I know our future generations will be able to enjoy. To be able to do work on the bayou and make additional enhancements…it is an easy decision. I couldn’t think of anything more awarding thing to do,” Perque said.

If you want to donate to “Friends of Bayou Lafourche” and its ongoing initiative to enhance the bayou you can do so by website:

www.bayoulafourche.org

You can also set up auto recurring donations (all tax deductible).

For examples of renderings also visit The Friends of Bayou Lafourche website.

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