With No Time to Lose, Louisiana Is Constructing More Coastal Restoration and Protection Projects Than Ever
By Amanda Moore
, Director, Gulf Program
This is the first blog in a series focused on coastal restoration projects advancing across Louisiana’s coast. You can read the Southwest blog here, and the Central Coast blog here.
When the first Louisiana Coastal Master Plan was released in 2007, just two years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, we laid out massive restoration needs with no time to lose. Overwhelming? Yes. Pipe Dream? No.
Today, we are seeing the consistent advocacy and commitment to the Louisiana coast turn big plans into a reality. With each Coastal Master Plan, Louisiana has honed in on its path to a sustainable coast. This success to date is, in part, because Louisiana is on the frontlines – facing extreme sea level rise and climate vulnerabilities. If we don’t figure out how to move the dirt and water to sustain the coast, there will be no coast left as we know it.
Louisiana has been full steam ahead when it comes to restoration planning and prioritization. That is why the state is well-positioned to maximize funding opportunities at hand, particularly as Deepwater Horizon penalties stream into the Gulf Coast. Louisiana – not just the government, but its everyday people, too – has put in the time to determine its restoration priorities and has committed to building the capacity to get the work done with urgency. Right now, there is an unprecedented amount of restoration work happening along the coast. Ridge restoration, shoreline protection, marsh creation, and river diversion projects are all part of the solution to our land loss crisis.
Over 100 active projects are moving forward across the state. Billions of dollars’ worth of work is planned in just the next few years. Across southeast Louisiana, some of the largest coastal restoration projects ever constructed are moving forward. Critical marsh creation and ridge restoration projects, like the New Orleans East Landbridge, the Golden Triangle, the Lake Borgne Landbridge, and the Bayou la Loutre Ridge are advancing – many turning dirt as I type – and helping to restore the vast Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (Mr. Go) impacted ecosystem and increase protection for millions of people in the Greater New Orleans area.
Our most powerful restoration tool, the Mississippi River, is being put to work in key areas like Maurepas Swamp and the Barataria Basin. The river reintroduction projects that are advancing in these areas will create and sustain tens of thousands of acres of wetlands, maintaining healthy ecosystems and allowing the delta to function closer to the way it did thousands of years ago when it was formed.
It’s through innovation and determination that Louisiana has found the success it is seeing today. It’s innovation and determination that will continue driving progress toward healthier wetlands, safer communities, and a more resilient future for the vibrant, one-of-a-kind place that is the Louisiana coast. We have far to go, but there is a lot to be proud of in this moment. Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of people who have shown support for the coast since Hurricane Katrina. Though there are many opportunities and obstacles ahead, we are on our way.
The cornerstone Mid-Barataria and Mid-Breton sediment diversions continue their progress in engineering and design. The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to release the Final EIS and Record of Decision coming for Mid-Barataria later this year.
East Orleans Landbridge Restoration Conceptual Layout, LA TIG Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment #8: Restoration of Wetland, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats
The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group is proposing several restoration projects to restore wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitats to address injuries caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Several important projects including the New Orleans East Landbridge, Bayou La Loutre Ridge Restoration and Marsh Creation, Bayou Dularge Ridge and Marsh Creation were included in a draft restoration that recently had a public comment period. Read LATIG’s Restoration Plan here. See our support of this draft plan, which represents a major step forward in habitat restoration and coastal protection for communities from St. Bernard to New Orleans, to the Northshore, to the River Parishes here.
In addition to the sediment diversions, many essential projects are scheduled to move forward this year including the construction of keystone projects like River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp which will help sustain over 45,000 acres of swamp in East Maurepas.