Louisiana Breaks Ground on Largest Coastal Restoration Project in U.S. History

08.10.2023 | In Press Releases

Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion will create up to 40 square miles of new land

(NEW ORLEANS, LA August 10, 2023) — Today, the State of Louisiana broke ground on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, the largest single ecosystem restoration project in U.S. history and a monumental milestone decades in the making.

The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, a cornerstone of Louisiana’s comprehensive plan to build and sustain coastal wetlands, will mimic natural land-building processes by reconnecting the Mississippi River to its surrounding wetlands, creating vital habitat for wildlife and a crucial buffer for coastal communities against increasing threats from storm surge. The sediment diversion is predicted to restore up to 27 square miles (17,000 acres) of wetlands in the Barataria Basin and is designed to work with other restoration projects in the outfall area, creating the potential for enhancing hundreds of acres of restored wetlands in total.

Using the river to restore Louisiana’s coast has long been one of Restore the Mississippi River Delta’s primary goals. The coalition of national and local conservation organizations comprised of the National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Pontchartrain Conservancy released the following statements following today’s momentous groundbreaking:

“The historic importance of beginning construction on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion cannot be overstated. This project is a visionary effort that positions Louisiana as a global leader, using the power of nature itself to create more wetlands than any other single restoration project in the nation,” said Simone Maloz, campaign director of Restore the Mississippi River Delta. “The actions we take now – like today’s monumental groundbreaking – will shape how our coast looks for generations to come. We must ensure more projects from the Coastal Master Plan advance in a timely manner to preserve a thriving and resilient coast for the people, wildlife and economies that depend on a stronger Mississippi River Delta.”

“The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion will use the power of nature to create essential wildlife habitat in an area of utmost ecological importance, while helping to buffer some of our most vulnerable communities from storm surge,” said Amanda Moore, director of the National Wildlife Federation Gulf Program. “This project addresses real-time, pressing climate challenges and illustrates how – through our collective effort and unwavering commitment – we can forge a path toward a more resilient and sustainable future.”

“This groundbreaking marks the culmination of years of hard work and the recognition of the significant economic and environmental benefits that the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion will have on our delta. We are grateful to all those who have dedicated their time and energy to supporting and advancing this vital project,” said Cathleen Berthelot, director of federal affairs, coastal and flood resilience for Environmental Defense Fund.

“This is the moment we have been working towards in the race to save Louisiana’s coast and all that it supports,” says Brian Moore, vice president of coastal policy for the National Audubon Society. “By reconnecting the river to our wetlands, this project will help support the wildlife habitat, protect diverse coastal ecosystems and ensure the bounty of our coast is sustained into the future.”

“CRCL has supported large-scale restoration projects like the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion since our founding 35 years ago,” says Kimberly Davis Reyher, executive director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. “We have no time to lose in building this project to harness the power of the river to protect our wetlands and people. Seeing shovels in the ground today makes us very hopeful about the future.”

“The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion harnesses our best defense, nature itself, to build land as it has done for millennia,” says Kristi Trail, executive director of Pontchartrain Conservancy. “Since 1989, our scientific research has shown that when we work with nature, rather than against it, we create the best protections for Louisiana with multiple lines of defense. This diversion will create jobs, contribute to our economy, and protect wildlife, people and our way of life.”

Media Contact:

Annie Matherne, Gambel Communications, 504.650.5539, annie@gambelpr.com

About Restore the Mississippi River Delta:

Restore the Mississippi River Delta is working to secure a just, climate-resilient coast where people and nature thrive. As our region faces the crisis of land loss and climate change, we seek to advance an equitable, safer and flourishing coast for Louisiana’s communities, ecosystems and economy. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Pontchartrain Conservancy, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States.