By Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation
The third and final public hearing on the draft plan to restore the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) ecosystem by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took place on Tuesday evening (Feb. 8) in New Orleans. About 100 people attended to hear more about the plan and voice their recommendations to the Corps. Previous meetings were held in Waveland, Ms. and Chalmette, La.
“These public hearings are a crucial part of the Corps’ planning process, and the MRGO Must Go Coalition is thrilled that so many members of conservation groups and people from around the affected communities have turned out to make their voices heard,” said Amanda Moore, coordinator of the MRGO Must Go Coalition.
While some of the meeting’s comments focused on specific aspects of the plan, others were aimed at driving home the fundamental principles of restoration. As Chris Macaluso, sportsmen’s outreach coordinator for the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, pointed out in his comments: “The marsh wouldn’t be here without the river. We need to reconnect the river to the wetlands to restore them.”
Other speakers included St. Bernard Resident Catherine Serpas, who supported using the existing canal as the location for the Violet diversion, and St. Bernard Parish landowner Jimmy Delery, who resides in New Orleans, and called for the restoration plan to be considered as part of the parish’s storm protection.
The official comment period for the MRGO ecosystem restoration draft plan ends Monday February 14. The MRGO Must Go Coalition, a group of 17 environmental and community organizations, has been working with local communities and coastal scientists to critique the draft plan. View the Coalition’s recommendations and submit your comments online at www.MRGOmustGO.org.