RoR’s Year In Review — Sun Sets on 2023


Τhe sun rose in 2023 with Restore or Retreat under the new direction of Dr. Joseph Orgeron as our Executive Director.  A previous long standing board member, his knowledge of the organization was needed to re-strengthen us.  Dr. Orgeron would start off tasked with addressing the challenges of the past few years. Challenges that all organizations were dealing with – A global pandemic and Hurricane Ida being the main two that challenged our return to the prior successes of Restore or Retreat (RoR). Those lingering impacts had stalled the momentum for many non-profit organizations, including ours. The goal of 2023 was to restore that strength and momentum by strategically wanting to reinvision RoR and look to our future. He looked at what was needed to bring back our efforts to support a sustainable Coast, Community and Culture for future generations.  Early on, momentum was shifting and energy was returning. 

Science based solutions for coastal resiliency would become our driving force. Working alongside stakeholders in support of our state’s Coastal Masterplan. We attended  the historic groundbreakings for the Mid-Barataria Sediment diversion as well as the Nicholls State University’s Coastal Center. RoR hosted international climate scientists on a tour of coastal projects and how we locally work to address climate resiliency through the use of nature-based solutions. We were able with translation (Japanese) to learn about the devastating impacts of the 2011 tsunami that had hit their community, how they combatted it with gray-infrastructure and how adaptive management strategies using science can guide us in our resiliency efforts. 

We also worked to bring RoR’s visible presence back to the community by re-engaging all fronts from attendance at area meetings, festivals and other small events like speaking to the Houma Chamber of Commerce and hosting members of our tribal and indigenous community members for future collaboration all the way to participating in the large State of the Coast Conference in New Orleans where we met with our coastal colleagues. Lastly, our very successful Annual Meeting in June included comments from Senator Cassidy, Congressman Graves and our Governor all speaking to the importance of our coast and efforts we make from local to federal to preserve it.

On Earth Day 2023, in conjunction with the Lt. Governor’s “Love the Boot” campaign we organized a volunteer-focused event to clean up an area from storm debris that was in the interior marsh and visible on arrival to Grand Isle. That cleanup included the support of the town of Grand Isle and Mayor Camardelle who assisted in the marsh pulling debris with our volunteers.  Another labor intensive mission project was a cleanup of West Park 90 in Grand Isle which had not been touched since Ida made landfall.  Projects such as these require financial help and resources. Fortunately, Entergy Louisiana provided us a monetary grant, Danos provided shovels and gloves, and Off the Hook Restaurants donated our meal. The Town of Grand Isle provided help with loaders and heavy equipment (times two they had helped with Earth Day).  In attendance were RoR Board members, the USCG Houma, staff from Congressman Graves office and previous RoR volunteers. All in all, 30 volunteers committed to the cleanup and we managed to spruce up the park which shows the sign of strength, resilience and continued effort in restoration that was RoR’s goal.  

Protecting our culture for future generations is imperative to RoR’s mission. To this end, we had the privilege to work this year on the newly announced Fourchon State Park. RoR hosted a series of stakeholders meetings on the cultural and conservation preservation perspective. In addition to the Fourchon State Park stakeholder facilitation, RoR hosted several media outlets for tours and filming of our wetlands across the State.  Both Dr. Orgeron and Polly Glover (RoR’s Project Coordinator) participated in filming with “On Our Watch” podcasts related to RoR’s coastal work.  Polly sat on a panel at Rougarou Fest, while Joe filmed segments on Houma-TV and an article in the Washington Post that featured Polly and our coastal crisis. 

RoR would be remiss if we didn’t look back at 2023 and say a huge THANK YOU to all of the supporters who donated to us this year.  You helped re-energize us with your financial support,  kind words, hours of volunteer support and most of all being a sounding board for us as we evolved RoR. Thank you to our RoR Board of Directors for your guidance this year. Thank you to our volunteers who show up even in tough conditions. Thank you to our peers who gave of our knowledge and time to help us better understand specific challenges in the region. 

As the sun sets on 2023 and we sail into 2024, RoR would like to invite you all to jump onboard and attend a scheduled tree planting on Grand Isle January 20th.  Be on the lookout for an invite.  We have planned several other volunteer plantings and community events throughout the year. We invite you to get/stay involved with us and work to sustain our coast for future generations.

It is with energy and excitement we welcome 2024! 

For Our Coast,
JoeO & Polly