Described as “a beautiful tree in an awesome place in the water,” a lone cypress stood as an iconic landmark at the entrance of Bayou Gauche for years until someone moored a barge to it.
Troy Gaubert, who had admired it for years on his numerous fishing trips on the bayou, issued the call for help on a Facebook page called “Life in Bayou Gauche,” which drew a surprising response.
“Nooooo! That’s my favorite tree.”
“Louisiana has lost too many beautiful trees.”
“Does it have to be the last tree on earth to be passionate about its preservation? It’s historic and ‘iconic.’”
And finally, there was, “Well, something needs to happen before the tree is pulled all the way out.”
The community tried to find someone who could help save the tree.
That’s what Gaubert was hoping for when resident Earl Matherne joined the conversation, gathering the information that helped identify the well site and barge number to trace the well permit.
Matherne even drove to the area and identified the well, adding, “It’s been reported to the state.” He couldn’t locate the tree, but he passed as much detail as he could to the state Department of Natural Resources (DHR).
According to Gaubert, “I went fishing that morning, but didn’t notice the barge tied to it that morning, but on the way back I saw it.”
It was too late for the tree.
When the barge was removed, the tree had been ripped by its roots and laying on its side in the water.
“It was a beautiful little tree and I was kind of angry when I saw what the barge had did,” he said. “It’s gone now. It’s just a memory. They damaged something you can’t replace now.”
The tree was small for its age, standing about 80 feet from the bank, and Gaubert admired it – often photographing it.
Gaubert said he didn’t start the Facebook post intending to get anyone in trouble. After working for Chevron for 30 years, he knows firsthand about the company’s efforts to avoid impacting the environment.
Matherne said he tracked the drilling permit to Costa Energy in Irving, Texas, and reported it to DHR.
Costa Energy could not be reached for comment by press time.
But Matherne said, “At the end of the project, they will be assessed any damages that happened during the project – mitigation.It was an unnecessary bit of damage they did … completely unnecessary.”
He also recognized the tree as a longtime landmark.
“That tree’s been there forever … my whole life,” Matherne said. “Considering the size of the tree and the size of the barge, I wouldn’t have done that.”
Although the tree is gone, Gaubert recalled how much it meant to him to see it and how saddened he is by its loss. He also praised the community rallying behind it on Facebook, too.
“What’s cool about the little tree was it was like a land stand,” he said. “It was there by itself, and now it’s gone. It’s pretty much just a memory amongst many others.”