Coastal Stakeholders Urge Decisionmakers to Advance Critical Restoration Projects

04.21.2022 | In Press Releases

Over 160 signatories including state and federal legislators, business and community leaders, environmental NGOs voice support for restoration projects following hurricanes and oil spill

New Orleans, Louisiana – Earlier this month the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees released its Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #8: Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats. In response to the draft restoration plan, over 160 representatives of business, government, environmental, community and other groups in Louisiana have signed on to a letter in support of the Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #8. The letter, addressed to the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group, lauds the plan as a major step forward in habitat restoration and coastal protection and calls for large-scale restoration to stabilize coastal marsh habitat and increase protection from storm-induced flooding.
The letter’s signers include experts at environmental NGOs including the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club – New Orleans, and National Audubon Society, business leaders representing New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and local businesses and corporations, and government officials from the Louisiana State Senate, Louisiana House of Representatives and the United States Congress (Rep. Troy Carter), among others.

“This week, as we mark the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, restoration projects are hitting big milestones to help restore the health of our coast. This particular Restoration Plan helps advance key projects in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet ecosystem – an area badly in need of restoration for wildlife and surrounding communities,” said Amanda Moore, Gulf Program Director at the National Wildlife Federation. “Projects like the East Orleans Landbridge and the Bayou La Loutre Ridge have broad, strong support and we are grateful to the many partners and leaders who have helped advance these critical projects. This plan marks a big step forward for our coastal communities and environment.”

The Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #8 recommends Engineering and Design funding for the East Orleans Landbridge, which would reduce storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain and enhance storm protection for over 1.5 million people, provide vital wetland and estuarine functions benefitting the ecosystem and the people who rely on a healthy estuary for their livelihoods, serve as important habitat for hundreds of species of fish and wildlife, and help maintain or enhance both commercial and recreational fishery.

“The landbridge is a critical natural landform that protects the New Orleans metropolitan area from storm surge from the Gulf. This project has the potential to provide protection to nearly 1.5 million people, as well as restoring habitat for both our local wildlife and the people who rely on this area for their livelihoods,” said LaToya Cantrell, Mayor of New Orleans.

The plan also recommends construction for the Bayou la Loutre Ridge Restoration and Marsh Creation project, which is part of the Multiple Lines of Defense strategy for storm surge protection in the Pontchartrain Basin and would also promote important diversity in plants and wildlife and support a Live Oak-Hackberry maritime forest habitat that is critical for a variety of wildlife, including hundreds of thousands of migratory birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Village De L’Est Community depends on a healthy wetland buffer to build our resilience to storms and rising seas. I’m proud to be a member of the many organizations and leaders who have long-supported critical restoration projects like the Orleans Landbridge. We are pleased to see this restoration plan moving forward, said Khai Nguyen of the Village De L’Est Community.

Restoration of the East Orleans Landbridge and Bayou la Loutre Ridge have garnered support from tens of thousands of people since Hurricane Katrina and are recommended by the 2012 Army Corps MRGO Ecosystem Feasibility Report and the 2017 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan. The East Orleans Landbridge is also a priority area identified in the City of New Orleans Resilience Strategy and the Orleans Parish Hazard Mitigation Plan. Restoration of Bayou la Loutre Ridge is a Tier 1 priority in the St. Bernard Parish Coastal Strategy Document. Signers urged the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group to move forward with urgency on both projects. If approved, the plan will advance Bayou la Loutre to construction at $21.2 million and the East Orleans Landbridge to engineering and design at $4 million.

Read the letter in full here.