NWF Tours Critical Wildlife Areas Threatened by Advancing BP Oil Spill

Reporters join NWF CEO on boat tour of Louisiana's wetlands

05-04-2010 // Miles Grant
NWF on the ground in Louisiana

A National Wildlife Federation team spent a third day in Louisiana on Monday, leading more than a dozen journalists on a tour of critical wildlife habitat in the shadow of the Gulf Coast oil spill.

"The wetlands of the Mississippi River Delta are one of the largest, most productive ecosystems in the world," said Larry Schweiger, president & CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. "This spill comes at one of the worst possible times, just as birds are beginning to nest."

In addition to Larry Schweiger, Senior VP Jeremy Symons & Louisiana Wildlife Federation Director Randy Lanctot chartered sportfishing boats from Louisiana's Venice Marina, at the tip of the Mississippi River Delta. The fishing boat captains that make their living here are already worried about their future.

"If the oil comes in here, [the ecosystem] could take 15 years to recover," said one fishing boat captain. "I'm going to need find a new career."

But who'll compensate Gulf Coast residents for their losses? British Petroleum's CEO has offered only talking points taking responsibility only for the cleanup but trying to distance BP from the devastating economic consequences of the spill.

"BP's CEO should be using his television appearances not to distance his company from the real impacts this spill is having on Americans -- he should be promising to fairly compensate the victims of this disaster," said Jeremy Symons.

"Looking out over the thousands of magnificent birds that call this area home, my emotions are torn," said Larry Schweiger. "On the one hand, I'm overwhelmed by the beauty Gulf Coast. But I also know what's in store for the wildlife, birds & marine life here -- already threatened creatures facing an even more difficult path ahead."

Watch: NWF's President Larry Schweiger Talks to Rachel Maddow About the BP Oil Spill

Watch: NWF President Leads ABC News on Tour of Gulf Coast Oil Spill

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