Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) Ecosystem Restoration Plan Moves Forward

By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation

Rally goers call for the closing of MRGO (June 2009). Credit: National Wildlife Federation

The Army Corps of Engineers is set to release the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) Ecosystem Restoration Plan Draft Feasibility Report this Friday, December 17, officially opening the 45-day public comment period.  The release marks an important and long-awaited step toward community protection and large-scale coastal restoration for the Greater New Orleans region.

The extensive flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish during Hurricane Katrina was directly attributable to the MRGO, a deep draft shipping channel that destroyed tens of thousands of acres of wetlands and cypress swamps surrounding New Orleans, leaving communities exposed to storm surge.  In the wake of the tragedy, Congress directed the Corps to develop a plan to restore the areas affected by the channel.

Years behind deadline, this vital plan (the largest wetland restoration plan in U.S. history) is ready for review.  The public voice is critical for both a strong restoration plan and implementation funding.  The Corps and Congress need to hear from you to ensure a healthy and resilient coastal buffer between the New Orleans area and the Gulf of Mexico.

The MRGO Must Go Coalition – a group of 17 environmental and community organizations – will serve as a resource for the public comment period by providing insight and recommendations for the Draft Feasibility Report.  Sign up now at www.MRGOmustGO.org to receive information and email updates about the public comments process as well as the Coalition’s formal recommendations.