By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation
Last Friday in the remote town of Davant, Louisiana (on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish), more than 100 people who care about the coast spent the day engaging in a productive dialogue about coastal restoration and protection. The forum, “Getting the Water Right, Getting the Jobs Right,” brought together fishermen, environmental NGOs, community and faith-based organizations, coastal engineering firms, academics, workforce development organizations as well as local, state and federal government representatives to start a vital and urgent series of conversations about Mississippi River Delta restoration and protection.
This foundational event was the idea of Reverend Tyronne Edwards of Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, who understands that “the time is now” to develop a vision for our coast’s future that will be embraced by all who love it. With a spirit of collaboration, he knowingly brought together a group of organizations with diverse interests in coastal restoration to plan and execute a meaningful forum, which included discussion about coastal restoration policy, local job training and opportunities in restoration, and project planning and implementation 101.
Dr. Woody Gagliano was instrumental in the success of the event, and with more than 50 years of experience in the world of coastal restoration planning and implementation, he relayed the following: “Everyone [who attended the forum] is searching for a better way to save and protect our coast. It was a seminal event. It will lead to action. There was a great amount of energy in the room. If we can harness that action and shape it into a vision plan for action, we can make it happen.”
The event was sponsored by: Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parish Coastal Restoration Offices, Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Louisiana Oystermen Association, National Wildlife Federation, Ocean Conservancy, Gulf Restoration Network, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, Oxfam America, The Louisiana Justice Institute, Deep South for Environmental Justice at Dillard University, Foundation for Louisiana, Equity and Inclusion Campaign, Coastal Environments, Inc. and Royal Engineering, Inc.