By Karen Gautreaux, The Nature Conservancy
On Thursday (April 12), the Louisiana State Senate Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the 2012 Louisiana Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, helping the plan reach its first legislative milestone. State and local officials provided testimony in support of Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 46 by Senator Dan Morrish (District 25), including Representative Joe Harrison (District 51), St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin and Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District Director and former state senator Reggie Dupre. O'Neil Malbrough from The Shaw Group represented the Coastbuilders Coalition and the business community in support of the plan. A number of members from the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign were also present in support, including representatives from the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy.
Particularly encouraging was the recognition in comments from legislators and witnesses of the linkages between a healthy coast, a healthy economy and the future of coastal communities. There was also recognition that there are many specifics still to be addressed as the plan is implemented, and it will be important to remain engaged as the coastal program moves forward.
The Annual State Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan, which spells out anticipated programmatic and project expenditures for the next 3 years (Sen. Morrish, SCR 41), was also unanimously approved. Full legislative approval for both the Annual Plan and Coastal Master Plan will require approval by the Senate Transportation Committee (anticipated hearing on April 19), the full Senate and their corollaries in the House of Representatives.