By Maura Wood, National Wildlife Federation
Last week, members of the public were invited to attend and participate in a series of scoping meetings about the proposed Myrtle Grove Diversion in southern Louisiana. The three public meetings officially launched the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Feasibility Study for the Myrtle Grove Diversion. Ensuring that Myrtle Grove is constructed as a land-building, pulsed, sediment diversion is a key element of our coalition's coastal restoration campaign. Scoping meetings allow stakeholders the opportunity to give input about the potential impacts the project.
Myrtle Grove is one of 15 coastal restoration projects authorized by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. It was authorized as a medium diversion with dedicated dredging under a program called the Louisiana Coastal Area Study. Our partnership has worked with state officials to gather data and model scenarios of a “modified” Myrtle Grove, which functions as a sediment diversion and employs pulsing to make maximum use of the river's sediment for land building.
At the meetings, members of the public requested that the EIS examine impacts to fisheries and to local communities that might be flooded by water from a diversion. At the same time, many speakers firmly stated the need to get sediment into deteriorating basins and recognized that local conditions would change and some uses would move within the estuary.
One frequent suggestion already has been adopted: the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has promised to meet with stakeholders on a regular basis during the EIS process. These meetings will enable information to flow back and forth between the Corps and the public and bring engineering expertise together with intimate local knowledge of the area. NWF will play a role in convening these quarterly meetings.