Louisiana’s 2017 Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast (Coastal Master Plan) is the state’s 50-year blueprint for large-scale restoration and protection of Louisiana’s critical coastal areas. The plan, authored by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), is updated every five years as required by law to account for evolving science and changing environmental conditions. It received unanimous, bipartisan support from both houses of the state Legislature.
Developed using a science-based and publicly informed process, the 2017 Coastal Master Plan recommends 124 restoration, protection and risk-reduction projects, to be implemented over the next 50 years, that maximize land building and reduce flood risk. These projects are expected to build or maintain more than 800 square miles of land compared to a future without action, reduce damages by $8.3 billion annually by year 50 and pay for themselves three times over throughout the course of implementing the plan.
In its 2017 plan, CPRA transitioned individual oyster reef restoration and barrier island restoration projects into “programs” rather than identifying specific projects to pursue and construct. Since the 2012 plan, barrier island restoration projects have enjoyed widespread success, with many projects being constructed in recent years. Although a few remaining barrier islands remain in queue for restoration, going forward, the program will focus on as-needed maintenance for these important ecological and risk-reduction features. Oyster reef projects, though smaller-scale, are sustainable features that grow and expand over time and also provide essential ecological and risk-reduction benefits. Both of these programs will receive funding on a case-by-case basis to implement projects across the coast.
The Coastal Master Plan combines projects that restore, build or maintain coastal wetlands with projects that provide enhanced risk reduction for coastal communities from storms and flooding. One of the benefits of restoration projects is that healthy wetlands and coastal areas serve as a crucial buffer for communities and industries from storm surge. This coastal buffer also increases the effectiveness and sustainability of risk-reduction measures, such as levees and floodwalls. This approach to storm protection – combining wetland restoration and natural land features with flood protection and risk reduction measures – is known as the “Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy.”
As seas continue to rise and land continues to sink, the 2017 Coastal Master Plan aims to create a sustainable future for coastal Louisiana and all the people, wildlife and industries that depend on it.
A Future Without Action
In a future without action, CPRA predicts 2,250 square miles of land could be lost.
What’s at Stake?
- $150 billion – Projects in the 2017 Coastal Master Plan will reduce expected annual damage, which could exceed $150 billion over the next 50 years without the master plan.
- 60,000 jobs – Nearly 60,000 jobs will be supported by investments in coastal restoration and protection over the next 10 years.
Louisianians Support the Master Plan
Polling done in early 2017 showed that an overwhelming overwhelming 88 percent of Louisiana voters want their legislators to vote for the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. The master plan is the state’s science-based blueprint for large-scale restoration and protection of Louisiana’s critical coastal areas. The poll identified extensive statewide support for the master plan, including 93 percent in the southwest coastal region, 92 percent in the Orleans metro region, 89 percent in the Bayou Central region, 88 percent in Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes, and 84 percent in north Louisiana. Keep reading.
Master Plan 101
Without action, Louisiana could lose 2,250 square miles of land over the next 50 years, putting our communities, economy, natural resources and wildlife – our entire way of life – at risk. If implemented, the master plan will help Louisiana avoid this worst-case scenario and reduce damages, which could exceed $150 billion over the next 50 years without the master plan.
If you want more background on the 2017 Master Plan be sure to listen to our podcast episode with Bren Haase, assistant administrator of the CPRA. Hosts Jacques Hebert and Simone Maloz walk through the master plan and why it's right for Louisiana.