The Community

The Bayou La Batre Watershed (Watershed) has a population of approximately 10,500 people, including approximately 2,300 who are residents of the City of Bayou La Batre. For over 120 years, the economy of much of the watershed was heavily supported by the harvesting of seafood. Bayou La Batre (BLB) still identifies itself as the "Seafood Capital of Alabama." More recently, shipbuilding has also become an economic engine for the area.

Many families living in the Watershed proudly trace their heritage back to the original 18th century settlers and maintain an intense pride in their French and Spanish lineages and family relationships. However, the social and cultural mix of the Watershed was forever changed in the 1970's with the immigration of substantial families from Southeast Asia. Much of this citizenry is underprivileged and economically disadvantaged, and the Asian communities represents approximately 35% of the population of the municipality of Bayou La Batre, many do not speak English.

It was recognized that challenges of engaging citizens in a watershed study is always complex and is made even more daunting by the socioeconomic structures and language barriers. In addition, there is a substantial local perception of socioeconomic disparity between those who have been successful in the seafood and shipbuilding industries and those who have simply maintained a day-to-day living from those same industries.

The Watershed Management Plan Team (WMP) recognized all of these factors and designed a public awareness and outreach program that connected with each community segment in order to maximize trust, participation, and effectiveness. Throughout the course of the project, the entire Watershed community was kept informed of milestones and accomplishments and was continuously encouraged to participate in community meetings, surveys, and engagement activities.

In addition to group and one-on-one meetings, the WMP Team provided watershed materials and presentations at a number of community events.