Notes from New Orleans
5:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Tulane Alumni Migrates to Baton Rouge to lead Audobon Louisiana

Doug Meffert has been appointed the first executive director of Audobon Louisiana, a localized branch of the National Audubon Society.

“Audubon Louisiana is a firm commitment by the National Audubon Society to the state of Louisiana in terms of long-term conservation and coastal restoration,” he says about an organization whose involvement in Louisiana dates back to 1924. And while there have long been numerous Audubon Society chapters across Louisiana, with more than 3,600 members, there has never been a statewide national office. Meffert asserts that Audubon Society's commitment to the bountiful landscape of Louisiana is critical to the migratory patterns of birds in the United States.

"Louisiana has 23 recognized and proposed important bird areas. You can't even leave New Orleans without crossing an important bird area. When you think about the birds that annually traverse the Mississippi Flyway, Louisiana is the last stopping point before they have to cross the Gulf of Mexico for hundreds of miles and it's the first stopping point on the way back for foraging and feeding."

Meffert's interests in environmentalism began during his childhood in the 1970's and stayed with him through a college stint at Tulane University, where he obtained both his bachelor's degree in engineering and his subsequent MBA. After receiving his doctorate from UCLA, Meffert returned to New Orleans in 1994, and began working as an environmental engineer and litigation specialist. Meffert's appointment will take him to Audobon Louisiana's headquarters in Baton Rouge, where he'll apply his passionate, yet pragmatic sensibilities immediately.

"If you're losing birds, you're losing habitat," he said. "When you're losing habitat, you're losing storm-surge buffers for our cities; you're losing the lands that have been apart of our cultures and economies for years. It's a tipping point where we are. This is the time where we need to invest the money now, save part of the coast that we can, deal with the realities of what we can't and move forward. We're running out of time. The time to act is now."