Archive for Meetings/Events
By Reverend Doctor Cory Sparks, Director of the Institute of Nonprofit Excellence, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations
When John Taylor was a boy growing up in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, cypress trees were so thick in nearby Bayou Bienvenue that he didn’t need a paddle for his pirogue. He could pull himself along by grabbing the cypress knees.
Decades later, saltwater intrusion from the now closed Mississippi River Gulf Outlet has turned the same stretch of bayou into a “ghost swamp” of dead trees, open water and marsh.
Taylor recently spoke to a field trip group from the Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church in New Orleans. Church members, including the youth group, gathered at the Bayou Bienvenue viewing platform in the Lower 9th Ward. They learned about the saltwater intrusion damaged the bayou, and the way this loss contributed to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the Lower 9. Rayne Memorial organized the field trip to help their members learn more about the issue.
Helen Rose Patterson, faith outreach coordinator for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, then connected the story of Bayou Bienvenue to the larger issue of coastal land loss in Louisiana. Louisiana has lost an area of land the size of Delaware since World War II. And while it’s hard to comprehend that 2,000 square miles of land have disappeared, it’s easy to see the change in the now-degraded bayou. Patterson and Taylor hope that soon visitors will not only learn about the effects of wetlands loss, they’ll also view ways to restore the coast – all without having to travel outside the city.
The Rayne Memorial field trip also celebrated Earth Day Sunday, a national celebration of creation care that features special worship services and environmental talks. In Louisiana, Earth Day Sunday is coordinated by the Louisiana Interchurch Conference (LIC). The LIC is made up of 17 different Christian denominations. Members include the Roman Catholic dioceses of the state as well as historically African American denominations, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians and United Methodists, among others.
The LIC has worked for decades to raise awareness of the threat to coastal wetlands. In 1988, the LIC hosted the first statewide hearings on wetlands restoration. A driving force of that effort, Rob Gorman, became founding board chair of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, a member organization of the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition.
This year, the LIC partnered with the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition to publish a wetlands bulletin insert for Earth Day Sunday. The flier reminded worshipers that God made the heavens, the earth and the seas – and our beautiful wetlands. It called on Christians to care for this part of creation by supporting the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition and its goal to utilize the natural power of the river to support our wetlands and wildlife.
If your church, synagogue, mosque or temple would like to schedule a field trip to the Bayou Bienvenue viewing platform, please contact Helen Rose Patterson via email at PattersonH@nwf.org.
If you would like to stay up-to-date on coastal issues and receive information relevant to your area, sign up for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition email list here!
Rev. Dr. Cory Sparks is Director of the Institute of Nonprofit Excellence of the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations. In this role he strengthens nonprofits to strengthen the state. He is an ordained United Methodist minister of the Louisiana Conference who has served churches in New Orleans and suburban Lafayette, Louisiana. Rev. Dr. Sparks is the Chair of the Commission on Stewardship of the Environment of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference. He also is a board member of the ecumenical group Christian Renewal New Orleans and President Elect of the New Orleans Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Rev. Dr. Sparks holds an A.B. from Columbia University, an M.Div. from Southern Methodist University, and a Doctorate in American History from Louisiana State University. During seminary he was a Ministry Fellow of the Fund for Theological Education (now the Fund for Theological Exploration).No Comments
By Matt Phillips, Outreach Coordinator, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
On Thursday, March 24th, the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition hosted its second annual Wine for Wetlands happy hour. The event is an important part of our Coalition’s work in Plaquemines Parish and provides an opportunity for elected parish officials, community leaders and local coastal restoration advocates to celebrate coastal restoration successes and explore strategies for the future.
Attendees gathered at Foster Creppel’s Woodland Plantation, just north of West Pointe-a-la-Hache. A recent storm had raised the Mississippi River to nearly 15 feet, and the river was swollen as it rushed past the levee behind Creppel’s. More than water flowed, though. Sediment – sands, silts, muds and clays – which built the Louisiana delta, flooded past the plantation as well. As attendees gathered, more than 10,000 tons of sediment raced by them on its way to the Gulf. Much of this sediment would eventually flow off the continental shelf, and the sediment-starved wetlands around Creppel’s would continue to erode.
This fact was not lost on Albertine Kimble, Plaquemines Parish native and former Coastal Program Manager, who spoke about the river’s ability to rebuild land and the parish’s urgent need to harness that power. As manager of the parish’s Coastal Program, Kimble selected restoration projects and guided them through completion. As much as any coastal expert in Louisiana, she knows that the river can rebuild land that Plaquemines has lost and sustain existing wetlands. Sediment diversions are a key method for using the Mississippi as a tool for restoration. Diversions redirect sediment from the river to the wetlands outside the levees, allowing the river to nourish the delta it built centuries ago. As Kimble noted, the sediment-laden river rushing by, this is how Plaquemines was built, and this is how it can be sustained.
As the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan notes, no single project type, tool or strategy will restore and protect Louisiana’s coast. Sandy Sanders, Executive Director of the Plaquemines Port, advocated another type of project that will rebuild the wetlands and buffer Plaquemines from the Gulf’s waters. Dredging sediment from the bottom of the river is necessary for keeping the river navigable. Instead of dumping that sediment into the Gulf, Sanders noted, we should be using that land to rebuild marshes outside of the levee system. Leaning on his experience in the Plaquemines business community, Sanders discussed how coastal restoration projects are both environmentally and economically critical for coastal Louisiana and the nation. Restoring the Louisiana coast increases the resiliency of refineries and ports in Plaquemines, which are an economic boon to the local, national and global economies. As Sanders mentioned, gas prices jumped after Hurricane Katrina. Refineries and ports across South Louisiana had sustained damage, and the nation felt those effects. Coastal restoration ties environmental needs to economic benefits, and using dredged material from the Mississippi River advances both of these goals.
While constructing these restoration projects is the first step, managing them correctly will be critical. Earl Armstrong, a Plaquemines Parish landowner and long-time resident, spoke to the audience about adaptive management, drawing on his experience fighting for the West Bay sediment diversion. The Army Corps of Engineers sought to close the diversion in 2011 once it started contributing to shoaling in an anchorage for ships near the mouth of the river, which hindered navigation. Armstrong recognized the problem and recommended that, instead of closure, the diversion needed a new management scheme. The Corps built a barrier that would capture the sediment more quickly, building land and solving the navigation issues that had arisen. Because of Armstrong’s efforts, the West Bay diversion is functioning as it should, and it is building new land.
Coastal restoration events in Louisiana usually display an array of maps with dire projections about land loss and sea level rise. Most of coastal Louisiana is colored red to indicate where land loss will be most significant. Plaquemines Parish is red from New Orleans to the Gulf. At Wine for the Wetlands, Richie Blink, the Coalition’s Plaquemines Parish Community Outreach Coordinator, looked to veer away from this message. “I’m tired of the red map,” he said. “I want to show the positive story.” He hoped to demonstrate what restoration looks like and what it can do for the parish. In a corner of the room, in stark contrast to the typical land loss maps, stood two images of new land built by sediment diversions.
These photographs presented a message of hope: that coastal Louisiana’s future is more complicated than we might think.
Matt Phillips is the Coordinator for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition’s Outreach Team. He works with organizers around Louisiana on improving the coalition’s community engagement. A native of New York City, Matt graduated from Oberlin College with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and moved to Louisiana shortly after to work on and learn about the state’s coastal land loss. He lives in New Orleans.
In advance of the general election, on November 10, the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition is hosting a #RestoreTheCoast Online Day of Action to highlight the important role Louisiana’s elected officials play in coastal restoration! Through this nonpartisan, voter education campaign, we are asking Louisianians to sign a pledge committing to vote in the upcoming election and urging state leaders to: be a voice for coastal restoration, protect existing and secure future coastal restoration funding, and support Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan.
Our hope is to send a clear message to our public officials: Louisianians want leaders who will prioritize coastal restoration, by keeping restoration dollars for restoration and continuing the forward progress made through the coastal master planning process. Together, we can protect our communities and coast for generations to come.
Join the #RestoreTheCoast Online Day of Action on November 10! Help us reach our goal of 10,000 pledges and elevate this important issue in advance of the Nov. 21 general election! Learn more and take the pledge at RestoreTheCoast.org.
Restore the Coast Online Day of Action Goals:
- Garner 10,000 total pledges
- Flood social media with #RestoreTheCoast and #TakeThePledge messaging
Ways You Can Get Involved:
- Email: Send an email to at least five friends, urging them to take the pledge at RestoreTheCoast.org!
- Twitter: Send tweets throughout the day urging your followers to take the pledge at RestoreTheCoast.org and to share the pledge with their friends! Be sure to use the #RestoreTheCoast hashtag.
- Facebook: Update your Facebook status and include a link to the pledge! Download sample Restore The Coast images via our Digital Starter Kit.
- Instagram: Instagram your favorite photo of the coast and ask your followers to take the pledge at RestoreTheCoast.org! Remember to use the #RestoreTheCoast hashtag.
Restore The Coast Digital Starter Kit:
Check out the Restore the Coast digital starter kit for sample web banners, social media share images and tweets.
General Guidelines for #RestoreTheCoast Online Day of Action:
- This effort will start at 9am Tuesday Nov. 10 and continue through the course of the day – feel free to keep the momentum going past Tuesday!
- If sending an email to your friends and family, please send it first thing in the morning. Get the buzz started early!
- The Online Day of Action will start with a simple tweet and/or Facebook post from your account about what today’s activity is about: a statewide day of action urging Louisianians to take the pledge to help #RestoreTheCoast!
- Then proceed to send out tweets and Facebook posts about the pledge and highlighting the important role Louisiana leaders play in coastal restoration (see Sample Tweets below).
- Follow the Online Day of Action’s progress throughout the day by tracking the #RestoreTheCoast hashtag, where you’ll see tweets from our and other organizations and individuals participating in the event. We have already begun using this hashtag with great success!
- Respond to and retweet your followers’ tweets in support of taking the pledge to restore the coast!
Hashtags and Mentions
- Use the #RestoreTheCoast and #TakeThePledge hashtags in your tweets.
- If you have room, it would be great to include “via @RestoreDelta” in your tweet, to help promote the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition’s Twitter handle.
Sample Tweets: Feel free to create your own tweets but please use the #RestoreTheCoast hashtag when possible.
Sample kickoff messages to begin the Twitter Day of Action
- Tweeting today to help #RestoreTheCoast – Join us! Take the pledge at RestoreTheCoast.org! via @RestoreDelta
- Taking part in a day of action to #RestoreTheCoast! Join us by taking the pledge at RestoreTheCoast.org! via @RestoreDelta #TakeThePledge
Sample tweets for rest of the day
- Take the pledge to restore Louisiana's coast today at RestoreTheCoast.org! #RestoreTheCoast #TakeThePledge
- Pledge to Restore The Coast! RestoreTheCoast.org #RestoreTheCoast #TakeThePledge via @RestoreDelta
- Louisiana’s coast is disappearing: A football field of wetlands vanishes almost every hour. Let’s #RestoreTheCoast RestoreTheCoast.org
- Louisiana needs leaders who will be a voice for restoration! Take the pledge: RestoreTheCoast.org #RestoreTheCoast
- Pledge to urge leaders to support the Coastal Master Plan! #RestoreTheCoast #TakeThePledge RestoreTheCoast.org
- We need leaders who will protect coastal restoration funding! Take the pledge to #RestoreTheCoast at RestoreTheCoast.org
- Pledge to urge leaders to be a voice for coastal restoration! #RestoreTheCoast #TakeThePledge RestoreTheCoast.org
- Louisiana’s coast is disappearing. We need your help! Take a pledge here: RestoreTheCoast.org #RestoreTheCoast #TakeThePledge
@RestoreDelta stats you can share or retweet:
Share these stats and images on Facebook or Twitter using #RestoreTheCoast and linking to the pledge: http://bit.ly/1ie46kR
- 87% of Louisianians want the next governor to work to identify & secure additional funding for future projects identified in the state’s Coastal Master Plan (see full tweet and image share: https://twitter.com/RestoreDelta/status/656183810367684608)
- 90% of Louisianians want the next governor to ensure coastal restoration funds are spent only on coastal restoration (see full tweet and image share: https://twitter.com/RestoreDelta/status/652527311535783936)
- 94% of Louisianians say a candidate’s commitment to protect & restore coastal Louisiana will be important to them when they vote (see full tweet and image share: https://twitter.com/RestoreDelta/status/651797092390801408)
Share these great videos on Facebook or Twitter using #RestoreTheCoast and linking to the pledge: http://bit.ly/1ie46kR
Together, we can #RestoreTheCoast!No Comments
MRD Priority Restoration Projects Included in Restore Council's Initial Draft Funded Priorities ListSeptember 27, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in 19 Priority Projects, coastal restoration, Community Resiliency, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, Meetings/Events, Restoration Projects, RESTORE Act
By Helen Rose Patterson, Greater New Orleans Outreach Coordinator, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
Last week, the RESTORE Council completed the last of six public meetings about their draft Initial Funded Priorities List. Restore the Mississippi River Delta staff attended the meeting in New Orleans on the University of New Orleans campus.
Justin Ehrenwerth, executive director of the RESTORE Council, provided a brief overview of the Council-selected priority watersheds in the Gulf and a more detailed explanation of the projects in Louisiana. Attendees were then given a chance to address the council. The comments were generally positive and tended in the direction of ‘let’s get started rebuilding the coast.’
The seven proposed Louisiana projects include four that are part of Restore the Mississippi River Delta’s list of nineteen priority projects:
- Golden Triangle Marsh Creation will provide further protection to New Orleans’ surge barrier and improve the estuary habitat in Lake Borgne.
- The Biloxi Marsh Living Shoreline project will provide planning dollars to restore the important habitat and reduce shoreline erosion in the area.
- The Mississippi River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp will provide further planning funds for a freshwater diversion from the Mississippi River into the Maurepas swamp which will improve wetland health and provide protection for communities to the west of Lake Pontchartrain.
- Finally, the West Grand Terre Beach Nourishment and Stabilization project, part of the larger Barataria Pass to Sandy Point Restoration priority project, would provide for planning to restore and enhance dune and back barrier marsh habitat on West Grand Terre to address shoreline erosion and marsh subsidence.
The FPL also includes other projects important to the Mississippi River Delta, such as canal backfilling in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve and funding for improved study of management of the lowermost Mississippi River.
We appreciate the inclusion of these projects and hope it is just the Council’s first step in addressing long-standing issues in the Mississippi River Delta. We also appreciate that the Council has gone to great lengths to leverage funding from other sources as this will maximize the impact of their investments. Moving forward, we would like to see a more transparent process for the selection and prioritization of projects. We believe that the priorities found in the RESTORE Act should be at the forefront of the Council’s project selection framework and we encourage them to elaborate on how these priorities were integrated into the process of creating this list. We hope that moving forward, project lists will be more focused on large-scale, multi-year projects to more fully achieve the goals of the RESTORE Act.
Citizens have until September 28th to provide comments on the projects. Those comments can be submitted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or mailing to: Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Attention: Draft FPL Comments, Hale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, Suite 1117, New Orleans, LA 70130.
You can show your support for coastal restoration by taking the pledge to urge leaders to be a powerful voice for coastal restoration. Take the pledge at RestoretheCoast.org!No Comments
As we approach the 10th anniversaries of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita – a time when we all learned about the importance of the Louisiana coast as a first line of defense against storms – Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition and Dirty Coast are partnering to feature YOUR coastal restoration messages on t-shirts, bags, posters and other snazzy products that will be sold in Dirty Coast’s New Orleans stores and across the web to help raise awareness and support for Louisiana coastal restoration.
Louisiana continues to lose a football field of land every hour, and our state has lost 1,900 square miles of land since the 1930s. These wetlands are crucial to protecting our homes and communities from the effects of hurricanes and storm surge. Without action, we stand to lose another 1,000 square miles by 2050. We want to engage people locally and nationally to understand just how important our coast is to the long-term resiliency of southern Louisiana and the entire nation that depends on our region.
That’s where YOU come in! We want to hear YOUR ideas for coastal restoration slogans! The creative wizzes at Dirty Coast are looking for slogans to use to create designs they’ll place on products to educate people around the world about how badly we need our coast restored now.
How It’s Going Down:
- Submit as many ideas or slogans as you like here from now through July 23, 2015.
- After July 23, we’ll select the best THREE slogans that most closely align with the positive messages of coastal restoration and have the best potential to make rad t-shirt designs.
- We'll let YOU vote for the slogan you want to see designed into a t-shirt and other products.
- The first place slogan will be made into a design Dirty Coast will sell year-round on t-shirts and other products to raise funds for restoration efforts. The person who submits the winning design will receive a $200 gift card to Dirty Coast, second place will receive a $100 gift card, and 3rd place a $50 gift card.
- We’ll announce the winning design at a launch party on August 20 at Dirty Coast’s new Marigny location (2121 Chartres Street).
- The winning design will be featured and sold in Dirty Coast stores and online over the next year, with a portion of sale proceeds going to the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition to help educate and engage people about the need for coastal restoration.
Some Tips to Help You Out:
- Keep it positive: Our situation is grave, but we want to feature positive, proactive messages that convey that solutions are possible. Some questions to get your creative juices flowing:
- What does the Louisiana coast mean to you?
- Why is it important that the Louisiana coast be restored?
- How would you explain coastal restoration to a kindergartener?
- Why is it important that we act now to restore the coast?
- Keep it simple: The message needs to be easily understood, engaging and memorable.
- Keep it fun: In case you’re not familiar with Dirty Coast designs, they’re clever, fun and captivating. See some of their designs here for inspiration.
What’s In It for You?
- Prizes: The person who submits the winning design will receive a $200 gift card to Dirty Coast, second place will receive a $100 gift card, and 3rd place a $50 gift card.
- Glory: Your winning message will be proudly worn by coastal warriors around the country for generations come, to spread the message of Louisiana coastal restoration.
- Pride: You can tell your grandkids that you had a hand in the fight to save our coast.
What more reasons do you need? Now get to work unleashing your creative genius to save the coast! Submit your ideas here. We can’t wait to see the results.
Questions? Email email@example.com
About Dirty Coast: Dirty Coast began in 2004 as a response to what was passing for local apparel on Bourbon street; a way to make cool designs for die hard New Orleanians. Small batches of shirts and posters. A fun side project. In 2005, a Category 3 storm made its way through the area without causing too much damage. Then the federal infrastructure meant to protect the city failed and filled New Orleans with water. Soon after, Blake found himself in Lafayette with all his plans placed on hold. While in exile, meditating on this fate of his beloved city, Blake designed a bumper sticker that read, “Be a New Orleanian, Wherever You Are.” He printed 5,000, and placed them all over New Orleans as soon as he could return. The reaction to Blake's design was overwhelming, and developing the Dirty Coast brand became a no-brainer. Why T-shirts? Because they are the great equalizer. You can have a good design. You can have fun, cheeky copy. But to create a shirt that exists on a level beyond your standard laundry, that engages your friends and neighbors in conversation, that starts debates, that elicits laughter, nostalgia, and many “Yea Ya Right!” That’s what we’re trying to do. To be bold and to be real about our dirty, marvelous city. Everything we do, everything we make is a proclamation of our love for New Orleans. And when you truly love something, you want to share it with as many people as possible. So whether you’re born here, a transplant, or simply passing through, you can be a New Orleanian wherever you are.
About Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition: The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at www.mississippiriverdelta.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.No Comments
By Jacques P. Hebert, Communications Director, National Audubon Society, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
This Tuesday a group of nearly 200 people gathered at the Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market for a day of talks from a variety of community and business leaders, artists, academics and others as part of the first-ever TedxNewOrleans. While the perspective of each talk varied, resilience and recovery of Greater New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina served as a unifying theme. The talks were spirited, inspirational and truly painted a picture that New Orleans “didn’t just come back, we got crunk” as colorfully stated by Michael Hecht of GNO Inc. in closing the day. Videos of the events are forthcoming, but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights:
- Rod West, Entergy’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, painted a visceral picture of the days following Katrina, from thinking we had dodged a bullet to being told there were white caps on Canal Street to then having to inform his employees that their homes were underwater and ask that they get to work literally repowering New Orleans.
- The Executive Director of 504ward, “New Orleans’ home base for young talent,” Jessica Shahien explored the city’s transition and her organization’s role in turning the notorious brain drain into a brain gain and how young professionals are flocking to live in New Orleans.
- Troy Simon detailed his journey from being twelve, illiterate and living in the Lower 9th Ward at the time of Katrina to being a senior at Bard College, a nationally-recognized speaker on education reform and meeting President and Mrs. Obama at the White House.
- SMG Executive Vice President Doug Thornton discussed the recovery of the Superdome – particularly his team’s frantic struggle to get it functional in time for the 2006 Saints vs. Falcons opener – and its status as an economic engine for New Orleans and symbol of resiliency.
- Through a series of conceptual drawings, Aron Chang of Waggoner and Ball Architects provided an overview of how the Mississippi River built its delta over time and encouraged all of us to “draw” our visions for what the future of our region might look like.
- A former marketing executive at Mignon Faget and Sucré and creative director of the Muses parade, Virginia Saussy colorfully recounted the months following Katrina when laughing through tears was critical and how she responded to a CNN story suggesting New Orleans cancel its first post-Katrina Mardi Gras.
- From education to healthcare to public housing, Chief Administrative Officer of the City of New Orleans Andy Kopplin discussed how government has been a force of disruptive change since Katrina.
- Actress and musician Kimberly Rivers Roberts recounted how Katrina empowered her to change her attitude from “I can’t” to “I can,” opening up a world of opportunities, including a documentary she filmed “Trouble the Water” receiving an Academy Award nomination.
What struck me in hearing these people speak about resilience, recovery, of “I can” attitudes and disruptive innovations, is that these principles can and have been applied in the fight to save Louisiana’s coast. In addition to the undeniable economic and infrastructural progress made around the Greater New Orleans region that these talks highlighted, over the last 10 years, we have also made significant gains in restoring our coast including:
- Passing game-changing legislation that has provided us with a science-based blueprint (Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast) and funding (the RESTORE Act) for addressing our coastal land loss crisis.
- Closing storm surge super highway MRGO and developing a plan to restore this ecosystem.
- Implementing early restoration projects, such as the Mid-Barataria Land Bridge and Marsh Creation Project, Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation, and other early restoration projects that have already made headway in building land and preventing further loss.
The progress made over the last decade is proof that working together we can address the most significant crisis currently facing our state. Louisiana continues to lose a football field of land every hour. Our best offense to protect New Orleans and Southern Louisiana from future storms is a strong defense, and with all due respect to our Saints, New Orleans has no better defensive line than a restored coast. For that reason, our coalition advocates for a Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy – anchored by a restored coast working in concert with the $14.5 billion dollar improved levee system and water management innovations like the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. These pieces of the pie fit together to protect our communities, industries and culture and serve as a model for similar communities around the world.
As we look ahead, in order to ensure the long-term protection and resiliency of our region, we need to continue to fund and implement the Coastal Master Plan, particularly the 19 priority projects in it identified by our coalition as having the greatest potential to restore our coast. Ten years later, it’s clear that New Orleans has bounced back (and even gotten a little crunk). Let’s recognize, learn from and celebrate these successes, but let’s also acknowledge the work that remains and get to it.No Comments
Sadly, this is not an April Fools joke.
Nearly five years after the BP Gulf oil disaster, we took a trip to Louisiana's Barataria Bay to see the continuing and ongoing environmental effects of the spill. Representatives from Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Louisiana Wildlife Federation and Restore or Retreat organized a boat tour for local and national media to see for themselves the continued negative effects of the spill and the dire need for restoration.
Launching off from the Myrtle Grove Marina 25 miles south of New Orleans, our flotilla traveled south into Barataria Bay, which was one of the most heavily oiled areas during the spill. Five years later, the effects of the oil disaster are still visible.
The first stop of our tour was East Grand Terre Island, where just two weeks ago, crews uncovered a 25,000-pound BP tar mat on the island. Yesterday, five years after the oil spill, we still found tar mats and tar balls on East Grand Terre.
Next, we traveled to Cat Island, a mangrove island in Barataria Bay that was heavily oiled during the spill. Once a lush, thriving bird rookery, teeming with pelicans, rosette spoonbills, least terns and others, the island is now a skeleton of its former self: small, gray and lifeless. The mangroves that once dominated the island are sensitive to oil, which in turn killed the mangroves and caused the island to erode and slowly vanish. Observers noted that this may be the last year that we see Cat Island, as it may be completely gone by this time next year.
The final stop on our tour was the Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation project, which is some of the newest land in Louisiana. This project uses sand dredged from the Mississippi River to build marsh. It’s being funded through the Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) and the early Natural Resource Damage Assessment funding. This project has restored 650 acres at the cost of $50 million.
Despite what BP claims, we saw evidence showing that the oil spill is not over and its effects are ongoing. Tar mats and tar balls are still washing ashore, and islands and marsh are still in need of repair and restoration. Five years later, BP needs to accept responsibility and “make it right” for the communities, environment and wildlife of the Gulf Coast.
- Learn more about the ongoing effects of the oil disaster in our 5 years later oil spill infographic.
- Read this statement about the ongoing effects of the spill and the need to hold BP accountable.
- Take action to ensure vital restoration happens soon.
Guest post by Mike Mariana, Belle Chasse, LA
On January 15, my wife and I attended the Wine & Wetlands event organized by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition and their outreach coordinator for Plaquemines Parish, Philip Russo. More than 50 people from across our parish attended and had the opportunity to hear from several concerned citizens, business owners and governmental representatives, all working in their own way to restore our coast.
Thanks to the sponsorship of several of Plaquemines Parish’s concerned business leaders, all who attended the Wine & Wetlands event at the Woodland Plantation also enjoyed excellent hospitality. The food and spirits helped create a relaxed atmosphere where friends, both old and new, could discuss coastal restoration and the future of our parish.
One thing was clear: Unless we develop significant federal, state and local resources, and follow a solid plan, our parish and our way of life will be literally washed away.
I look forward to many future community activities as we continue to make more people aware of the need for coastal restoration. This is a broad geographical and multi-generational fight, and we have been passed the baton. It is now our jobs to educate the activists of the future and hold government and private-sector organizations accountable for coastal restoration projects on the books now. Please join us.
Belle Chasse, LANo Comments
By Philip Russo, Outreach Coordinator, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
Land along a river has long been coveted for its agricultural productivity, but few rivers can compete with the mighty Mississippi.
With a drainage basin stretching across 31 U.S. states and parts of Canada, it is no surprise that the Mississippi River carries a lot of sediment. Historically, the river would deposit this sediment near its mouth in what is now southeast Louisiana, creating new land. But since leveeing of the river, the majority of this sediment is lost out the mouth of the river and into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Near the mouth of the Mississippi, the final 85-mile stretch of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish is home to prodigious citrus farming land. And with cool temperatures and clear skies, the weather of early December was ripe for the 68th Annual Plaquemines Parish Orange Festival.
Nestled between the Mississippi River levee and historic Fort Jackson, the focus of the festival is all things citrus. In Louisiana, that means copious displays of red navels, tangelos, ruby red grapefruits, sweet oranges, satsumas, kumquats and more.
While we attended and blogged about our trip down to the Orange Festival last year, this was the first year we actively engaged the crowds about protecting and restoring our coast – and we got to do so while debuting our tabletop river delta model! Watch this short video of the diversion model in action.
There are some sections of Plaquemines Parish where the distance between the Mississippi River levee and the Barataria Bay levee is only a few hundred yards, so Plaquemines residents are familiar with and usually eager to talk about their coast. But having a model demonstrating the process which built the very land everyone is standing adds another dimension to conversations about restoring barrier islands, ridges and marsh.
This year’s Orange Festival celebrated yet another successful harvest, but the celebration – originally organized in 1947 to promote Plaquemines’ citrus crop – has known its setbacks, most significantly due to Hurricanes Betsy, Camille and Katrina. If we are going to ensure the success of future harvests, we need to restore our multiple lines of defense against storm surge and maintain our protective coastal wetlands with strategically located and operated diversions along the river.No Comments