By Scott Madere, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
With a unanimous vote of its members, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA) approved the final draft of the 2012 Coastal Master Plan at its March 21, 2012 meeting held at the Louisiana State Archives.
The completed draft represents a milestone for Louisiana: a comprehensive science-based plan for coastal restoration and protection, built to last 50 years. The Coastal Master Plan represents thousands of hours of work from scores of contributors and CPRA staff members. As CPRA Director Garret Graves said, it is a document unlike any that has come before, detailed in its approach to Louisiana’s coastal crisis while considering possible limitations in funding and resources. “This plan for the first time ever puts us on a realistic trajectory for generations to come. It’s an achievable goal. It’s a fundamental shift in how we approach coastal planning for Louisiana,” said Graves.
The next step for the 2012 Coastal Master Plan is approval by the Louisiana Legislature, which will receive the document before March 26.
The final draft takes into consideration feedback entered after the introduction of the first draft, released to the public on January 12, 2012. The public comment period ended earlier this year on February 25.
“The comment period was very constructive,” said Graves. “We had over 2,000 comments received. Hundreds of people attended the public meetings that were held. Every single comment was read. Every single comment was considered, and every single comment was responded to.”
In addition to the general public, CPRA also sought the input of a 33-person framework development team, made up of governmental representatives, business and industry representatives, researchers and non-governmental organizations (including CRCL). Focus groups from the oil and gas, navigation and fisheries industries also played a key role in advising CPRA on the Master Plan.
“One of the things we want to do with these focus groups and the framework development team is understand a way to continue them,” said CPRA Chief of Planning, Kirk Rhinehart. “We got so much good dialogue. We learned so much from engaging with them that we want to make sure we continue that process.”
After considering and implementing public feedback, the final draft of the 2012 Coastal Master Plan differs somewhat from the original version released January 12. Here are many of the important differences between the two versions, broken down by coastal zone:
- Plans to include 500 year-level flood protection for Lake Charles via levee have been changed to study alternate means of providing the same level of flood protection for the city.
- CPRA will consider more shoreline protection for Cameron Parish.
- CPRA will work with navigation interests to determine the best way to implement a salinity control structure in the Calcasieu Ship Channel at the Gulf of Mexico.
- Hydrologic restoration for Gum Cove has been removed.
- Planned oyster reef in West Vermilion Bay will be redesigned with possible realignment.
- Bayou Chene flood control structure added.
- Marsh creation projects moved from Pointe au Fer and Bayou Penchant in western Terrebonne Parish to eastern Terrebonne Parish, along the rim of northern Terrebonne Bay and near Isle de Jean Charles.
- Marsh creation added to west side of Bayou Lafourche to protect LA-1 corridor.
- Marsh creation for Lafitte area reconfigured, with project moved from the second implementation period to the first implementation period.
- Size of marsh creation plan for Biloxi Marsh doubled, with oyster reefs also added.
- Marsh creation project on Lake Borgne reconfigured.
- Added marsh creation project to Central Wetlands area.
- Projects to improve marsh areas and shoreline protection near the Lake Pontchartrain Barrier will receive planning dollars.
For All of the Louisiana Coast
- Funding added for a Mississippi River realignment study.
- Funding for parish-level nonstructural projects will be consolidated to implement across entire Louisiana coast.
- Creation of a project development and implementation program, to discover solutions for the most difficult areas of Louisiana’s coastline to serve.
- Explicit acknowledgement of climate change to be included in the Coastal Master Plan.
The next step for the 2012 Coastal Master Plan is approval by the Louisiana Legislature, where it will most likely be entered on or before March 26 as a Senate concurrent resolution. For a very detailed explanation of the approval process for the 2012 Coastal Master Plan, visit CRCL’s Coast Currents blog for Part Four of our Coastal Master Plan 101 series, “The Legislative Gauntlet.”
To view the final draft of the Coastal Master Plan, click here.