WRKF

Tegan Wendland

Tegan Wendland is a freelance producer with a background in investigative news reporting. She currently produces the biweekly segment, Northshore Focus. 


** Correction 10/11/19 : An earlier version of this story  mistakenly referred to "shotguns" in the piece, which were never used by the hunters. The corrected version refers to "rifles." **

Louisiana alligators were once on the brink of extinction. Today, there are more than ever on the coast. Hunting alligator is a way of life for thousands of Louisianans. But it’s becoming less profitable, as foreign imports flood the market and drive down prices. Fewer hunters are heading out to the swamps each fall.

Seven parishes in coastal Louisiana have sued oil and gas companies to restore the coast. The suits say that nearly a hundred companies carved canals through the marshes over the years, and those canals worsened coastal land loss and made parishes more vulnerable to storms. Now, in the first settlement of its kind, one of those oil companies is settling.

To learn more about the case and its implications for the other suits, reporter Tegan Wendland talked with Christopher Dalbom, senior researcher at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy.

Steel recycling company Bayou Steel has filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. The move comes a day after announcing it would be laying off 376 employees and shutting down its LaPlace-based steel mill.

According to documents filed in Delaware bankruptcy court Tuesday, the steel recycling company owes between $50 and $100 million to other businesses. Among the 30 entities owed the most, seven are based in Louisiana.

Those calliope-playing Mississippi riverboats will soon be carrying more than passengers. Scientists are preparing to attach monitors to some boats in an effort to gather more data on the river's water quality.

After big floods like those in 2016 that inundated many homes in the Baton Rouge-area and beyond, sometimes a home buyout is the right choice. People whose homes have flooded multiple times can get money from the federal government to relocate to safer ground. But a new report from an environmental advocacy group finds that those buyouts can take a long time.

As rainfall increases and storms intensify, local officials across Louisiana are looking for ways to protect their citizens. They’re putting up levees and floodwalls and trying to manage all of the water. But floodwater doesn’t follow parish lines, so state officials are working on a solution.

As Hurricane Barry headed for the coast in July, Sharonda Kotton and her family were on edge. They live near Bayou Manchac in Iberville Parish, a densely-wooded rural area just south of Baton Rouge. It floods often.

Rainstorms seem to be getting more intense. In New Orleans, every time it rains, people worry about flooding. A new study from LSU finds that storms in Louisiana are getting bigger and wetter, dropping more rain over a shorter period of time.

WWNO’s Tegan Wendland talked with state climatologist Barry Keim and LSU research associate, Vinny Brown, who looked at climate data going back to the 1960’s.

The Trump administration is making major changes to the Endangered Species Act, which could affect some plants and animals in Louisiana.

The act, passed in the 1970’s, protects endangered plants and animals. At that time, the “pelican state” almost lost its state bird. The brown pelican was on the brink of extinction. Then, officials went to Florida and brought back juvenile pelicans to reestablish them in Louisiana. In 2009 they were officially taken off the list of endangered species.

Louisiana’s coast is a unique mix of cultures. For hundreds of years Europeans, Africans and Native Americans have lived off the land and water. But that land is disappearing, battered by storms and rising seas, and people are migrating north.

Now, the state is trying to preserve some local traditions before they disappear.

The Water Institute is a Baton Rouge-based research institution that works with the state and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority on issues like land loss and river diversions. One of its former scientists is now under investigation by the FBI.

The Times Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate broke the story. WWNO’s Tegan Wendland talked with reporters Della Hasselle and Bryn Stole about the implications for coastal research.

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