An author whose latest work chronicles the devastation of the Louisiana bayou will give a reading at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, in the Gold Ballroom of the West Virginia University Mountainlair.

Mike Tidwell, author of Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisianas Cajun Coast, will sign copies of his books following the reading. Sponsored by WVU s Department of English, the reading is free and open to the public.

In Bayou Farewell, Tidwell describes how the vast marshland of coastal Louisiana, home to millions of migratory birds and the source of a third of Americas seafood, is literally washing out to sea. This so-calledbayouregion6,000 square miles in sizeis the fastest disappearing land mass on earth. Destructive oil company practices and levees built as protection to stop the Mississippi River from flooding have in turn starved the area of fresh sediment deposits. Now, this low-lying bayou region is sinking.

Tidwell first reported on this area in The Washington Post in August 1999. Armed with a backpack and camera, Tidwell returned to Louisiana, hitchhiked through this watery world of salt grass and swamps, traveling atop the decks of countless Cajun fishing and shrimping boats. He enjoyed the rich food, music and culture of his French-speaking hosts as they showed him their once proud, but dying fishing communities, an area where critically important wetland grasses vanish and an acre of solid ground turns to water every 20 minutes. Tidwell is also the author of four other books, including Amazon Stranger and The Ponds of Kalambayi. A former National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Tidwells work has appeared in such publications as National Geographic Traveler, Readers Digest and The Christian Science Monitor. His frequent contributions to The Washington Post have earned him three Lowell Thomas Awards, the highest prize in American travel journalism.

For more information, call 293-3107, ext. 404.