Ian Somerhalder

Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com

Last June, we were fortunate enough to learn firsthand about Louisiana native Ian Somerhalder's fight to raise awareness about the BP oil spill and its devastating effects on the Gulf Coast.

At the time, the Vampire Diaries star voiced his dissent over the seemingly nonexistent response to the Gulf disaster from both the government and his Hollywood counterparts. But today Ian, who's still actively involved in the ongoing recovery efforts (as any good Twitter follower knows), seems hopeful about our future—and is encouraging everyone to make sure something of this magnitude never happens again:

"I've been speaking with a lot of people down there," Ian tells us of the latest semi-good news out of the Gulf Coast. "I know we all hated it, the 1.7 million gallons of [oil]. It could have been Armageddon."

But thankfully, the tide of crude oil seems to have ebbed away, at least for now.

Explains the actor-activist: "There is a significant amount of oil in the marshes, but a lot of it is evaporating. It wasn't as horrible as it could have been. It was really bad, and there are definite areas that are destroyed forever—places in Grande Isle, La., and certain beaches—but a lot of these marshes are going to bounce back. The nurseries, the areas of young shellfish and fish that were incubating and growing that we thought would be covered [in oil] and destroyed, I don't think were really hit. Mind you, this is all very premature. Yes, it's a disaster, but it's a lot better than if it would have just kept gushing."

Now that Ian's cry for action has been heard, the next step is helping to recover the Gulf's economy.

"There's still a stigma about the seafood in that region," he tells us of the deterioration of the area's main source of income.. "They're catching a lot of seafood, but they're being turned away at the docks. A lot of preliminary testing of a lot of these animals, the speckled trout, the red fish, shrimp, crab, oysters, all of it coming in, shows that there's no oil on these animals. I hope we can get enough testing soon that will give enough conclusive evidence that these animals are not contaminated and that we need to start buying this seafood again and supporting these people.

"We learned a lot, and maybe in 10 years we'll really realize what happened, why the government didn't step in more," Ian says of the oil spill's ultimate outcome. "It's really a shame how we handled it. We lost a giant ecosystem because of it. But it taught us a great deal."

Ultimately, the message from the talented thesp and do-gooder is this: "We can't let this happen again. We can never see this again in our lifetime. Ever, actually—screw our lifetimes. That's the goal, to never see this again. And it never should happen again."

HELP: Continue to support Gulf Coast relief efforts here and here.

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