More than 200 businesses, organizations and individuals from around the state urge commitment to Louisiana’s successful coastal program

05.22.2024 | In Press Releases

“The very future of our state is at stake,” say concerned signers, uniting in a call for continued restoration and protection

NEW ORLEANS (May 22, 2024) — More than 200 businesses, organizations and individuals from across Louisiana have signed an open letter expressing urgent concerns about recent shifts in the state’s coastal program. The letter, released today as the start of another hurricane season draws near, highlights the high stakes for communities, the economy and the state’s world-renowned Sportsman’s Paradise due to Louisiana’s land loss crisis. The signers emphasized the need to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and the long-standing, science-driven Coastal Master Plan (CMP) process.

“Louisiana’s coastal program, established from the hard lessons learned after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, has made our coast stronger and more resilient,” the letter states. “We are concerned by recent shifts in the state’s coastal program, particularly the dramatic changes in the direction and composition of the CPRA Board and lack of adherence to our science-driven Coastal Master Plan.”

The letter says that reorganizing CPRA under a larger agency like the Department of Energy and Natural Resources – a measure currently under consideration by Gov. Jeff Landry’s administration – would weaken its effectiveness. The signers also express concern that the promotion of restoration and protection projects not vetted through the CMP process risks wasted time, energy and funding. Signers laud the robust, well-respected master planning process that is grounded in the best available science, a process that has also helped Louisiana set the gold standard for other coastal areas in the nation grappling with how to deal with impacts from challenges like stronger storms and disappearing shorelines.<

To continue the progress in restoring and protecting coastal Louisiana, the signers recommend:

The letter identifies the bipartisan legacy of coastal investment as key to helping Louisiana confidently address devastating land loss – currently at a rate of 19 acres per day. Since its inception, the CMP, now in its fourth iteration, has received unanimous legislative approval. This robust, science-based approach has earned the trust of federal partners, state allies and industry leaders, resulting in $21.6 billion in largely non-state funding for restoration and protection projects. Additionally, the state’s FY25 Annual Plan was recently unanimously approved by the Louisiana Legislature and dedicates an unprecedented $1.7 billion to coastal restoration and protection, while creating more than 11,000 jobs.

“Louisiana’s Sportsman’s Paradise is world-renowned for our hunting and fishing opportunities,” said Ryan Lambert, owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures. “Sadly, we are quickly losing the essential wildlife habitat that supports our culture and our sportsman’s legacy. We need to strengthen Sportsman’s Paradise for the future generations of hunters and anglers that are depending on what we do today.”

“Our coastal program works,” said Rebecca Triche, executive director of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. “Louisiana’s track record in strong science-based planning, securing outside funding dedicated to restoring and protecting the coast, and engaging the public in the coastal restoration process has made us the gold standard for the rest of the nation. This is a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Changing the coastal program jeopardizes the efficiency and effectiveness of an already successful state agency.”

“Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan incorporates world-class science, monitoring and modeling to account for our complex and dynamic ecosystem,” said John W. Day, professor emeritus of oceanography and coastal sciences at LSU. “Our comprehensive plan has become the model for scientists and engineers around Louisiana and far beyond. We should not stray from decades of research and extensive vetting of projects in the master plan.”

Louisiana’s coastal program has consistently demonstrated its effectiveness and has garnered widespread support from the public in return. Since 2005, it has strengthened and benefited more than 67,000 acres of coastal wetlands and shorelines, improved miles of levees and restored 71.6 miles of barrier islands. The momentum continues, with plans to create or nourish an additional 20 square miles of coastal wetlands and generate tens of thousands of jobs in the coming year. Public support remains strong, with 92% of Louisiana voters backing science-based restoration plans like the CMP and 80% approving sediment diversions.

“The tangible gains achieved by Louisiana’s coastal program are crucial,” the letter concludes. “As we face another hurricane season, we can’t lose our momentum. The very future of our state is at stake.”

To read the full letter with a complete list of the 217 signers, visit this page.

Background on Signatories

The letter is supported by a diverse group of over 200 groups and individuals representing a wide array of sectors and interests across Louisiana, including:

Culture Bearers and Artists: Such as Big Freedia, Tank and the Bangas and Louis Michot of Lost Bayou Ramblers

Sportsmen Groups and Businesses: Including Delta Waterfowl, Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) and Ryan Lambert of Cajun Fishing Adventures

Business Owners and Culinary Leaders: Including restaurateur Dickie Brennan, Chef Susan Spicer of Rosedale and Bayona, Chef Ryan Prewitt of Pêche Seafood Grill, Chef Ashwin Vilkhu from Saffron NOLA, Chef Isaac Toups of Toups’ Meatery, Chef Mason Hereford of Turkey and the Wolf and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

Religious and Community Leaders: Such as Leigh Rachel, Pastor at Louisiana Interchurch Conference; Shawn Anglim, Pastor at First Grace United Methodist Church and Rev. Dr. Fred Devall of Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church.

Educators, Conservationists and Advocates: Including Chris Dier, 2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year; Christina Lehew from Common Ground Relief Wetlands; Jessica Dandridge-Smith from the Water Collaborative, Cindy Brown from Land Trust for Louisiana, Kristi Trail from Pontchartrain Conservancy, Arthur Johnson from the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development; and Steve Cochran, 2018 Louisianian of the Year and 2024 Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

These individuals, from diverse backgrounds and professions, share a common concern for the future of Louisiana’s coast and are united in their call for immediate and sustained action.