Archive for Community Resiliency
By Alisha A. Renfro, Ph.D., Staff Scientist, National Wildlife Federation
Worldwide, rising global temperature is a threat to coastal communities in the form of rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes. Last week, the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans hosted a presentation by Virginia Burkett, Ph.D., Chief Scientist for Global Climate and Land Use Change at the United States Geological Survey. In Dr. Burkett’s presentation, “Climate Change and Sea Level Rise: Implications for New Orleans,” she discussed the science of climate change and the threats sea level rise present to the vulnerable low-lying landscape and communities of coastal Louisiana. Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan acknowledges these threats and outlines a 50-year plan for protection and restoration that takes into account subsidence, sea level rise and increased storm frequency and intensity.
Global sea level rise is a consequence of water influx from melting glaciers and ice sheets and the expansion of ocean water as it is heated. During the 20th century, global sea level rose approximately eight inches, but satellite data indicates that the annual rate of sea level rise has almost doubled over the last 20 years. As the different processes that affect melting of large ice sheets are still the subject of intense scientific study, the range of predicted sea level rise in this century ranges from 0.6 to 6.6 feet, but the most likely range of sea level rise is between one and four feet.
While the predicted rate of global sea level rise is enough to cause concern for many coastal regions, in Louisiana, the threat is intensified as not only is sea level rising, but the land is also sinking. Subsidence can occur due to natural geological processes, such as dewatering and compaction of deposited river sediments over time, but it can also be increased by human actions, such as groundwater withdrawal and oil and gas extraction. Subsidence rates across Louisiana’s coast vary, but in many areas, the rate of subsidence far exceeds the global rate of sea level rise. The combination of global sea level rise and local subsidence means that the local sea level will rise sooner and higher in Louisiana than in most other places in the world.
At the conclusion of her talk, Dr. Burkett had a few recommendations for actions we here in Louisiana can take to adapt to sea level rise and increase the resiliency of our coastal communities and coastline. For coastal communities, elevating and flood-proofing infrastructure are important steps for adapting to the increased threat of inundation from sea level rise and hurricanes, but in some cases, retreat from low-lying coastal areas may be necessary.
We can better manage our coast by factoring our understanding of the natural processes and trends and by getting sediment from the Mississippi River into the wetlands. As one of the most vulnerable areas to sea level rise in the United States, coastal Louisiana will serve as the testing ground for scientific innovation and policy that will likely shape the response of coastal communities throughout the country to the threats of climate change and sea level rise.No Comments
By Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund
If anyone can sympathize with the Northeast as it recovers from Hurricane Sandy, it’s the residents of New Orleans. I found this out firsthand on recent trip to Louisiana.
While Hurricane Sandy battered the Northeast, I was in South Louisiana with Environmental Defense Fund’s Creative Director, Nicole Possin, working on a video about wetlands restoration in the Mississippi River Delta. We’d planned the trip long before we knew about Sandy, and the irony of being in Louisiana while a hurricane hit the Northeast was not lost on us. I live in Washington, and Nicole lives in Brooklyn and owns a house in Asbury Park, NJ — an area severely hit by the storm. In Louisiana, it was in the 70s and sunny, making it hard to believe a tropical storm was hitting the East Coast. Needless to say, we were glued to the news.
As we talked with people throughout the state, we were met with greetings of sympathy, understanding and encouragement for us and our neighbors back home. “We’ve been through this before, and you’re going to get through it, too” was a common sentiment. “Rebuilding is going to take time, but as long as you have the people you love nearby, it will be OK” was another. It was comforting and touching to hear such kind words from strangers, especially from people who have been through numerous natural disasters.
Louisianans have experienced more than their fair share of hurricanes, including Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, Lee and most recently, Isaac. We met with people who’d lost their homes in those storms — sometimes not once, but twice. In many parts of New Orleans and south Louisiana, people are still rebuilding their houses, businesses and communities — years later.
Yet despite all this, there is a strong sense of hope and resiliency among the people of South Louisiana.
We took to the streets with our camera and helped local residents send messages of empathy and encouragement to the people of the Northeast. The result was this video, “Postcards from New Orleans: Hope for the Northeast.” Please share it with others and feel free to leave your own message in the comments section below. This video is the first in a series, so please check back for future installments.
- Postcards from New Orleans: A video for the Northeast (Environmental Defense Fund)
By Happy Johnson, Amanda Moore and Elizabeth Skree
Our Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign works to reconnect the Mississippi River to its delta to protect people, wildlife and jobs. At our core, we are the “Power of We”: a coalition of five national and local non-governmental organizations — the National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – working together to save a national treasure: the Mississippi River Delta.
The Mississippi River Delta is losing an area of land the size of one football field every hour. Yes, you read that right. Turning the tide on wetland loss, which totals over 1,900 square miles since the 1930s, is no small feat. To take on this task, we turn to the Power of We.
Whether it’s by supporting our nation’s fisheries, vital wildlife habitat, trade routes or energy production, the Mississippi River Delta is important to the entire country. Here in the delta and across the nation, citizens are learning more and more about the crisis in the delta and taking action to help restore the area. Locally, our campaign works to engage area residents throughout their neighborhoods. Together, we rally. Together, we hold press conferences. We release reports. We host public forums that empower citizens to speak directly to their legislators, state officials and federal agencies about moving restoration forward. We harness the Power of We to make change.
Community Conversations on Coastal Restoration
This year we organized a series of community conversations to enhance and increase coastal competency in Louisiana urban areas. Those gatherings provided an informal outlet to openly discuss the comprehensive challenges and opportunities as a result of staggering wetland loss. In particular, people were interested in how they can become advocates and participate in the emerging job market created by coastal restoration investment.
MRGO must go
The Power of We shines in one major delta project: restoring tens of thousands of acres of protective wetlands just southeast of New Orleans destroyed by a federal shipping channel, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (also known as the “MRGO” or “Mister Go”). Since Hurricane Katrina, we’ve worked hand-in-hand with local landowners, local government, academia, local neighborhood associations and national environmental organizations to advocate for closure of the shipping channel (which happened in 2009) and for a strong restoration plan for the area. We worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in planning, and in the last few years alone, we’ve generated over 75,000 comments to the agency calling for urgent and careful ecosystem restoration along the MRGO. These comments poured in from across the nation, and we now have a $2.9 billion recommended plan for restoration by the Army Corps’ Chief of Engineers.
BP oil disaster
We harnessed the Power of We to pass landmark legislation after the BP oil disaster. The Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign has been working since the spill to ensure that the Clean Water Act fines BP and other responsible parties will pay as a result of the spill are returned to the Gulf Coast to be used for restoration. For this to happen, Congress needed to pass legislation ensuring the money was sent to the gulf states — that bill was the RESTORE Act. A little over two years after the spill had started, Congress passed the RESTORE Act and the President signed it into law. This historic bipartisan legislation came to be in part because of the many letters sent to Congress by people all across the country. Our campaign helped generate over 160,000 letters to Congress asking them to make the RESTORE Act a priority.
Holding BP accountable
But even though the RESTORE Act is now law, our work is not done. It’s been over two years since the gulf oil disaster started, and BP has still not paid a penny in Clean Water Act fines. BP has been stalling the process and is actively trying to walk away from its obligations to clean up the gulf. We can't let that happen. The Power of We can help make things right for the environment and communities of the gulf. Please sign our petition to BP and tell them to stop stalling, stop litigating and make the gulf whole. It’s the right thing to do.
What else can you do?
Like the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign on Facebook! By liking our page, you can be the first to receive updates and action opportunities for the delta.
Follow us on Twitter! @RestoreDelta is Twitter's best resource for Mississippi River Delta news, action items and project updates.
Subscribe to Delta Dispatches! Delta Dispatches is the Web's foremost blog on the policies and science behind Mississippi River Delta restoration.No Comments
By Happy Johnson, National Wildlife Federation
Louisiana is facing a coastal crisis. We lose one football field of wetlands every hour. 1,900 square miles of land has been lost already since the 1930s, and another 1,800 square miles are expected to be lost within the next 50 years unless we implement significant coastal restoration projects. Coastal land loss has strong, direct impacts on all communities, especially Black and Vietnamese fishing populations in the Mississippi River Delta. Without urgent restoration of Louisiana’s dying wetlands, we stand to lose these vital groups, cultures and economies.
Many fishermen who saw their families, homes and boats dismantled by Hurricane Katrina experienced compounded economic damage during the BP oil disaster. As a result, communities of color making a living in the fishing industry are dramatically shrinking.
The before-mentioned disasters also present a remarkable opportunity to implement policy and project solutions that mitigate land loss, reduce carbon emissions and tackle relative sea level rise. Examples of those solutions include Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan and the RESTORE Act, both of which harness science and community capacity to engineer a more resilient Gulf Coast.
On the third Tuesdays of June, July and August, the New Orleans branch of the National Wildlife Federation hosted a three-part series of informal residential gatherings titled “Community Conversations on Coastal Restoration” at the New Orleans Healing Center.
Representatives from neighborhood associations, community development organizations, curious residents, students and vocal coastal leaders attended these events to discuss the BP oil spill impacts, the RESTORE Act, the Coastal Master Plan and the Louisiana First Hiring Act. The overarching mission of this series was to help enhance coastal competency in urban communities.
State and federal investments in southeast Louisiana provide opportunities to build community strength against future catastrophes. How do we diversity grassroots and local residential interest and then turn that interest into advocacy? I think it begins with building trust, expanding opportunities and having in-depth conversations.
The emerging coastal restoration economy provides significant avenues for job growth, educational training and workforce development. Now is the time for New Orleans as a whole to prepare for the future.No Comments
By Maura Wood (National Wildlife Federation) and Brian Jackson (Environmental Defense Fund)
For decades, the people of southern Louisiana have gradually struggled with the collapse of the Mississippi River Delta. Land that once provided shelter from hurricanes, space for agriculture, a basis for livelihoods and a source for recreation has — sometimes in one generation — disappeared. This slow-motion crisis has forced communities and economies along Louisiana’s coast to adapt to collapse.
Large-scale restoration of the delta provides new hope that the system can again become sustainable. But turning coastal Louisiana around from a system losing land to one rebuilding it will require transition and adaptation for coastal residents and communities. Change is inevitable, but the direction of that change will shift dramatically from the loss that communities have been adapting to for generations to a more dynamic and sustainable system that is gaining land.
Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan sets out bold action for restoration and importantly highlights the need for “providing for transitions,” i.e. addressing potential changes that stakeholders may face as projects are implemented and acknowledging the grief and adjustment imposed by existing land loss.
The master plan uses many methods of restoration, asserting that “The action we need requires changing the landscape, not just tweaking what we already have.” Projects such as marsh creation, sediment diversions, ridge restoration, oyster barrier reefs and hydrologic restoration have been chosen for their ability to build land and sustain the coast over the long term. At the same time, they may also be accompanied by short or long-term changes in water elevation and salinity regimes as diversions are operated; changes in access as land is built and hydrology is restored; shifts in habitats in response to land building; and other social, cultural, and economic changes as a result of physical changes to the landscape. The plan stresses that “If we don’t take large-scale action, land loss and flooding will grow so severe that ours will be the last generation that benefits from Louisiana’s working coast.”
The master plan commits to helping communities and user groups adapt to these changes three ways: by developing a planning framework for adapting to change; by involving stakeholders in project design to minimize impacts; and by identifying tools that may assist communities, businesses, and individuals in transitioning to a sustainable — but likely different — new coastal regime.
The challenge is to flesh out these commitments into a creative discussion that moves beyond despair and dislocation. Ideally, transition from the collapsing coast of today to a dynamic but sustainable coast of the future will continue and renew the connection between land, livelihoods, communities and culture. Perhaps through the “planning framework,” stakeholders themselves will be able to propose how transition can result in building a better future for individuals, communities and businesses.
Because the environmental challenges we face are unprecedented, bold actions must be taken. The ultimate benefits and impacts of such actions lie in the future and cannot be completely known. But we know that without action, our coast will continue collapsing. Increasing our ability to work together — marked by increased collaboration, communication, networking and interaction, as well as the establishment of common goals and mutual trust — increases our ability to make decisions, correct mistakes and create a coastal future together. Therefore, the Coastal Master Plan’s commitment to engaging stakeholders and addressing transition is a linchpin for successful forward progress toward a sustainable coast for everyone.No Comments
By David Muth, Louisiana State Director, National Wildlife Federation
Now that Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan is law, it is critical that the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) moves the process forward as quickly as possible. While the plan lays out a series of projects for over its fifty-year timeframe, the actual sequence of projects has not yet been completely planned. The sooner CPRA can finalize this project list and timeline, the sooner vital construction and restoration can begin.
Several things are necessary for creating that list of projects. First is to carry out continued modeling to measure how projects and suites of projects will interact with one another. One example is looking at how a mid-Barataria 50,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) sediment diversion will interact with marsh creation projects in the middle Barataria Basin and with a ring levee and community resiliency measures for the nearby town of Lafitte.
Second is to work out how funding streams can be most effectively sequenced to begin building out the projects identified in the list. This is especially critical with Clean Water Act penalty funding to be distributed under the RESTORE Act and the separate Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process. These funding sources, resulting from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, could become available at almost any time over the next few years.
Third is to move quickly to implement nonstructural hurricane risk reduction measures. Nonstructural storm protection measures are those that build community resiliency by means other than “structural” methods such as levees, floodwalls and floodgates. They include raising structures and homes up out of danger, hardening infrastructure and assisting with voluntary relocation. Unfortunately, the suite of existing nonstructural programs is reactive: invoked after, but not before, a disaster. That has to be changed moving forward.
Another challenge concerns the Chenier Plain in southwest Louisiana. The key to long-term restoration in that area is to find ways to modify the hydrology of the area’s navigation system to prevent the continued influx of sea water into formerly freshwater marshes. Simple on paper, tricky in practice.
At an implementation level, two important capabilities need to be developed for the master plan to move forward. One is to demonstrate the feasibility of long-distance pipeline sediment delivery. Much of the Coastal Master Plan depends upon finding a viable way to move vast volumes of sediment many tens of miles through dredge pipes. We have a great deal of experience with relatively smaller scale projects for both marsh creation and barrier island restoration, but the master plan proposes projects that will be carried out on a much larger scale — moving material over much greater distances than ever before. While there seems to be no technical reason this cannot be done, actually doing it will be important for fine tuning the plan.
Similarly, we need to test and demonstrate a sediment diversion somewhere other than at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The very existence of southeast Louisiana proves that such diversions build land. We have extensive experience cutting artificial distributaries near the mouth of the river and letting them build land – from Cubit’s Gap and a dozen other cuts on the Mississippi below Venice to the Wax Lake Outlet on the lower Atchafalaya River. We also know that crevasses through the man-made levee system prior to 1928 moved vast quantities of sediment into the upper estuaries. But we have never deliberately designed and constructed a controlled sediment diversion, and we will learn a great deal more than modeling can tell us by actually doing it.
All told, the to-do list for Coastal Master Plan implementation seems long, but with RESTORE Act and NRDA fines on the way, we will have the funding to jumpstart restoration. Combine this funding with the proper planning and prioritization, and coastal Louisiana will take several steps closer to a more sustainable future.1 Comment
By Amanda Moore, Greater New Orleans Program Manager, National Wildlife Federation
Despite torrential rains and flooded streets, well over 100 residents in the Greater New Orleans area ventured out on the evening of July 18th to engage in a discussion about coastal restoration. National Wildlife Federation was proud to partner with the City of New Orleans as forum hosts and welcomed speakers Wes Kungel of Senator Mary Landrieu’s office, Garret Graves of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and Colonel Ed Fleming of the Army Corps of Engineers.
At this historic time for the Mississippi River Delta, with so much in play, it’s important to ensure that stakeholders in the Greater New Orleans area are aware of the latest developments for our coast. Events like these also offer citizens the chance to engage in the restoration process that will help protect the city from storm events and create new economic opportunities. The audience was full of note-takers as our speakers gave an overview of current events, emphasized the public’s role in making sure our restoration efforts are a success and answered audience questions in a lively Q&A session for well over an hour.
The evening started with Mr. Kungel’s review of the recent passage of the RESTORE Act, which will bring between $5 and 21 billion dollars to the Gulf Coast for restoration, and what it means to Louisiana. He let us know what lies ahead for RESTORE, such as the December 2012 final pretrial conference that leads to the Clean Water Act penalty assessment and activation of RESTORE Act provision. Mr. Graves spoke next about the 2012 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, which he referred to as the “most innovative coastal plan in the country.” The plan was passed in the Louisiana Legislature this year and will be a major driver for how RESTORE funds are spent in Louisiana. Finally, Col. Fleming discussed coastal restoration projects the Corps is engaged with in the Greater New Orleans area, like restoration planning along the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and how local contractors can get involved in construction of projects.
Col. Fleming said it well, “In building restoration projects, you can put a lot of folks to work, save the environment, and build a buffer zone [from storms] all at the same time.”
That sounds like a plan to me.
The forum marked the first in a series of events to be hosted by NWF and the City of New Orleans. Check out photos from the event here.No Comments
By Meg Sutton, Environmental Defense Fund
Last week, scientists, engineers, community leaders, policymakers, business owners and other coastal interests gathered in New Orleans for the 2012 State of the Coast Conference. The event was organized by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) and Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) with the mission of providing a forum in which to learn about advances in coastal science and engineering and to ensure that this knowledge is applied to current and future coastal projects. To better inform project implementation, these science and technology topics cut across other themes including funding, policy and community resilience.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Preparing for a Changing Future.” Special attention was paid to the recently released 2012 Coastal Master Plan and the implications of climate change. These events and issues, however, are underpinned by past legacies and present realities. Conference organizers and participants acknowledged this by painting a multigenerational picture, starting with the beginning of Mississippi River flood control and navigation and extending to plans for coastal sustainability a century into the future. Organizers highlighted the vulnerable present state of the coast and stressed that if we hope to have a sustainable future for the coast, the time for action is now.
In the first conference plenary session, Craig Colten of Louisiana State University gave a historical briefing of Mississippi River management, beginning with the 1720 colonial mandate to construct levees to protect areas from flooding. He continued by describing the subsequent trajectory that was increasingly path-dependent on levee and outlet systems that lead to the strong economic growth and development of the area but also contributed to high land loss and an exceedingly vulnerable coast. In order to both regain land and reduce vulnerabilities, the major functioning of the levee and outlet system in New Orleans has to be addressed. The almost 300-year history of the New Orleans levee system is a legacy that has contributed to present land loss rates, and without reconciling this reality, it precludes a future sustainable coastline.
Nothing was more relevant to the conference’s conversations than the impending threat of tropical storm Debby. At the beginning of the conference, there were concerns that Debby may impact New Orleans. Because of this possible threat, Garrett Graves of the CPRA delivered the conference’s opening address in place of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who was unable to attend due to the possibility of an emergency evacuation of the city. While the skies proved clear throughout the conference, it highlighted the current coastal vulnerability of New Orleans.
Paul Harrison of Environmental Defense Fund summed up these colliding issues by commenting that we have a 21st century issue in front of us: How do we reduce storm vulnerability, and how do we rebuild land? More importantly, how do we do this while balancing community and economic needs? Dr. Susanne Moser, of Susanne Moser Research and Consulting, reminded attendees in her keynote address that the 2012 Coastal Master Plan is as much about protecting people as it is about saving wetlands.
In order to address these questions, experts in their respective fields gave over 100 key research presentations, three keynote speeches, 100 poster presentations and hosted two panel discussions over the course of the three-day conference. Major topic themes included relative sea level rise, innovative restoration approaches, ecosystem service benefits of wetlands, subsidence, sediment management, barrier islands, existing restoration programs, hydrology, coastal ecology and many others. Each presentation alluded to past events, present conditions and what the research means in the context of a sustainable future coastline in Louisiana.
To find out more about the 2012 State of the Coast conference, please visit www.stateofthecoast.org, where a summary of proceedings will be published shortly. The 2010 proceedings report can be found at the same address.No Comments
By Brian Jackson, Associate Director – Stakeholder Engagement, Environmental Defense Fund
Last month, the Louisiana Legislature passed the 2012 Coastal Master Plan, capping off years of public engagement and analysis. The 50-year plan lays out a bold path of projects and programs to restore the environment and protect the people, economies and environment of the Mississippi River Delta. The total cost of the plan is $50 billion, of which $10.2 billion is dedicated to nonstructural risk reduction measures.
So what is nonstructural protection anyways? Why would the master plan allocate one out of every five dollars for nonstructural approaches? And what does it mean for Louisiana’s coastal communities?
The term “nonstructural” originated because nonstructural storm protection is considered the alternative to traditional structural flood protection (i.e. levees). Structural measures control water and keep it out or away from an area, while nonstructural measures accommodate water and make buildings and infrastructure more adaptable and resilient to water. Nonstructural approaches have been cleverly named “Living with Water” by colleagues at home, such as Waggonner & Ball Architects in New Orleans, and abroad, through the Dutch Dialogues workshops in the Netherlands. Nonstructural measures include a wide array of activities, including evacuation, home elevation, flood proofing of buildings, flood insurance, planning and zoning and storm proofing critical public facilities.
Nonstructural storm protection measures can be undertaken quickly — in fact, Louisiana has already implemented many of these measures through The Road Home program, the Coastal Land Use Toolkit developed by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and Center for Planning Excellence, and other flood mitigation programs. Whether behind already-existing levee protection or down on the bayou, nonstructural measures are cost-effective for reducing flood risk to homes and businesses. Every dollar spent on disaster mitigation saves four dollars in recovery costs. This is why the master plan relies so heavily on nonstructural protection.
Additionally, nonstructural measures don’t alter natural hydrology, meaning they can work in synergy with large-scale restoration efforts, such as river diversions. Nonstructural measures also work in places where levee protection may already exist, where levees may not be feasible and where federal appropriations or permitting issues may exist.
The Coastal Master Plan’s nonstructural program is based on an analysis of 116 project areas throughout coastal Louisiana. Each area was analyzed for flood risk, building characteristics and adoption of risk reduction measures. The results of this study were used to determine the coast-wide need for risk reduction, the $10.2 billion nonstructural budget and a suite of measures that could be implemented across the coast. The analysis did not result in firm nonstructural plans for each of the 116 project areas. Instead, the goal of the study was to determine the need and budget for a new nonstructural program, not how the nonstructural program would be implemented.
This situation presents both a challenge and an opportunity for local communities and nongovernmental organizations to work with the state as it defines the implementation and budget of the nonstructural program. The master plan study determined that Louisiana’s rural coastal areas will benefit the most from nonstructural protection, so engaging those communities will be essential for success. Also, identifying new and existing funding sources, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program or Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants, in addition to determining local need coupled with implementation plans, will be vital to the success of the nonstructural program and crucial for a sustainable coastal Louisiana.
All things considered, the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign enthusiastically supports the 2012 Coastal Master Plan and its balanced approach to restoration and protection. The master plan lays out the foundation for the next 50 years, and now we must work to fund and implement its vision.No Comments
By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation
Water. Flashlight. Batteries. Canned food. It’s hurricane season. In coastal Louisiana, we’ll keep a close eye on the weather until November — hoping to dodge each swirling white storm that crops up on the radar.
As the world witnessed in 2005 during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana is dangerously vulnerable to strong storms. One major reason for our vulnerability is the collapse of coastal wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta in southern Louisiana. Since the 1930s, due in large part to manmade causes, we’ve lost about 1,900 square miles of land from the Louisiana coast – it's like losing the state of Delaware off the nation's map! These coastal wetlands play a critical role in protecting communities by helping buffer them from storm surge, wind and waves.
Here in Louisiana, we are still recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which cost nearly 2,000 lives and caused $91 billion in damages. At the same time, we are trying to get ahead of the next storm to prevent another horrific disaster by planning and advocating for coastal protection and restoration. The Louisiana Legislature just unanimously passed the Coastal Master Plan, a comprehensive 50-year plan for restoring our coast and protecting our natural resources. Coastal scientists continue to expand our knowledge and understanding of what is happening to our coast and how best to restore it. Thousands of people — from local school kids to celebrities to international visitors — are learning about the plight of Louisiana's wetlands and getting dirty in marshes planting grasses and trees every year!
Why all the attention? The Mississippi River Delta matters — to all of us. In addition to vital protection from storms, wetlands sustain vital industries like trade and seafood — the delta’s fisheries provide 25% of American seafood. The wetlands also provide wildlife habitat to hundreds of species, including the endangered Kemps Ridley sea turtle and the Piping Plover beach bird. These same wetlands and waterways contribute tens of billions of dollars to our national economy every year and support millions of jobs.
So as we ready ourselves for the 2012 hurricane season, let’s call for restoration — protecting communities and wildlife and sustaining the rich culture of America’s delta. Today, you have a great opportunity to help move restoration from plan to action. Click here to support the RESTORE Act, critical legislation moving through Congress, which will bring BP oil spill penalties back to Gulf Coast states to fund coastal restoration projects like those so badly needed in Louisiana.
We need your voice! Share this post with your friends and family and help us restore the Mississippi River Delta. And LIKE and SHARE this image on Facebook. Doing so will make a difference for hurricane seasons to come.No Comments