Archive for Meetings/Events


Media Advisory: Conservation Groups Release Restoration Solutions for Mississippi River Delta

December 8, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in BP Oil Disaster, Meetings/Events, Restoration Projects

MEDIA ADVISORY for Tuesday Dec. 9: Telepresser at 10:00 a.m. CT

Conservation Groups Release Restoration Solutions for Mississippi River Delta

New report recommends a series of science-based restoration efforts to benefit coastal Louisiana

The 2010 Gulf oil disaster dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, affecting hundreds of miles of coastline along the five Gulf states, with Louisiana's coast receiving the greatest damage. BP and the other companies responsible will pay billions of dollars in penalties and punitive damages, much of which will be allocated to the Gulf states for restoration.

In a new report, leading national and local conservation groups outline 19 priority projects for restoring the Mississippi River Delta following the 2010 Gulf oil disaster, for the benefit of people, wildlife and the national economy. Speakers on the call will also be able to comment on the recently-released Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s list of proposed projects.

WHAT: Restoring the Mississippi River Delta for People and Wildlife: Recommended Projects and Priorities – A report by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition describes in detail 19 restoration projects aimed at stopping wetlands loss and restoring habitat in the Mississippi River Delta.

SPEAKERS: David Muth, Gulf Program Director, National Wildlife Federation
Natalie Peyronnin, Director of Science Policy, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, Environmental Defense Fund
Dr. Doug Meffert, Vice President and Executive Director, Audubon Louisiana

WHEN: Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 10:00 am CT
1-800-791-2345, code 69498

CONTACTS:

Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Lauren Bourg, National Audubon Society, 225.776.9838, lbourg@audubon.org

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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. See more at www.mississippiriverdelta.org.

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Media Advisory: Conservation Groups Release Priority Restoration Solutions for Louisiana and Gulf Coast

December 3, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in Media Resources, Meetings/Events

MEDIA ADVISORY for Tuesday Dec. 9
Louisiana telepresser – 10 am CT
Gulf-wide telepresser – 11 am CT

Conservation Groups Release Priority Restoration Solutions for Louisiana and Gulf Coast
Two new reports outline path toward comprehensive Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration following oil disaster

The 2010 Gulf oil disaster dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, affecting hundreds of miles of coastline along the five Gulf states, with Louisiana's coast receiving the greatest damage. BP and the other companies responsible will pay billions of dollars in penalties and punitive damages, much of which will be allocated to the Gulf states for restoration.

In two new complementary reports, leading conservation organizations make specific recommendations for how penalty money can best be spent to improve the health of the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast, for the benefit of people, wildlife and the national economy. Speakers on the call will also be able to comment on the recently-released Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s list of proposed projects.

Louisiana

WHAT: Restoring the Mississippi River Delta for People and Wildlife: Recommended Projects and Priorities – A report by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition describes in detail 19 restoration projects aimed at stopping wetlands loss and restoring habitat in the Mississippi River Delta.

SPEAKERS:
David Muth, Gulf Program Director, National Wildlife Federation
Natalie Peyronnin, Director of Science Policy, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, Environmental Defense Fund
Dr. Doug Meffert, Vice President and Executive Director, Audubon Louisiana

WHEN: Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 10:00 am CT

DIAL: 1-800-791-2345, code 69498

Gulf Coast

WHAT: Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for People and Wildlife: Recommended Projects and Priorities – A report by the National Wildlife Federation describes restoration projects and priorities for all five Gulf states: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

SPEAKERS:
David Muth, Gulf Program Director, National Wildlife Federation
Ryan Fikes, Gulf of Mexico Staff Scientist, National Wildlife Federation

WHEN: Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 11:00 am CT

DIAL: 1-800-791-2345, code 68545

CONTACT:
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Lacey McCormick, National Wildlife Federation, 512.610.7765, mccormick@nwf.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org

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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. See more at www.mississippiriverdelta.org.

National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization inspiring people to protect wildlife for our children’s future. www.nwf.org.

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Adapting to climate change using natural infrastructure

November 13, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in Climate, Community Resiliency, Meetings/Events

By Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund

For half a century, the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) has been bringing together water resources professionals for information exchange, professional development and education. Hosting numerous conferences per year, AWRA recently hosted its Annual Water Resources Conference earlier this month in Washington, DC. More than 1,300 people attended the conference to hear presentations on the latest water resources topics and network with fellow professionals. The conference was also special as it was in celebration of AWRA’s 50th anniversary.

As part of this year’s annual conference, Shannon Cunniff, deputy director for Environmental Defense Fund’s water program, organized, the panel “Adapting to Climate Change Using Natural Infrastructure” and then participated as both a presenter and moderator. Joining Shannon were fellow panelists Todd S. Bridges, senior research scientist for environmental science at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, and Sara Murdock, climate change program manager at The Nature Conservancy.

The panelists presented on ways to incorporate natural and nature-based infrastructure into design plans in order to reduce flooding and other risks associated with climate change.

In places like the Mississippi River Delta, natural infrastructure, which includes “green infrastructure” such as wetlands and barrier islands, is critical to protecting cities like New Orleans, communities and infrastructure. And as climate change continues, coastal areas like southeastern Louisiana will be at the forefront of climate adaptation and resilience. Incorporating green infrastructure with traditional “gray infrastructure,” such as floodwalls and levees, will both protect cities and people as well as increase the effectiveness of this existing flood protection infrastructure.

MLOD LARGE

The Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy incorporates both natural and traditional infrastructure to protect communities against storm surge flooding. Source: Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation

Environmental Defense Fund has been working on wetlands restoration in the Mississippi River Delta for 40 years. Lessons learned there can be used to help other coastal and deltaic areas become more resilient in the face of climate change. As part of that initiative, EDF is working on innovative approaches to scale up natural and nature-based climate adaptation and resilience solutions.

“EDF approaches resiliency as building the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience,” said Shannon to a room of more than 50 conference attendees. “We seek efficient and creative solutions that provide social, economic and environmental benefits; lower risks from climate change; and improve access to traditional as well as innovative sources of funding for implementation.”

“EDF believes we can meet risk reduction needs in ways that improve, not harm, ecosystems,” Cunniff continued. “We believe we can improve economic and social resiliency by building and conserving protective landscapes, or ‘natural and nature-based infrastructure.’”

Perhaps the best indication of attendees’ interest in the enhancing use of natural infrastructure was their lively dialogue with the panelists about the opportunities and needs to incorporate “green” and traditional “gray” approaches, which due to their enthusiasm, extended well into the conference’s cocktail hour.

Shannon also participated in the AWRA Student Career Night that brought together water resources professionals from several career fields (federal and local government, non-profit, consulting and academia) with undergrad and graduate students to learn about career options, how the water resources field is evolving and how to find the right job. Based on the attendance, Shannon noted, “Based on the impressive talent here, I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the next generation of water resources professionals’ capability to solve some really big challenges.”

In 2015, AWRA is hosting a summer specialty conference on climate change adaptation and how to respond to it, build resilient systems and influence decision makers. The conference is being held in New Orleans, a city at the frontline of climate change adaptation and resilience. More information can be found on AWRA’s website: http://www.awra.org/meetings/NewOrleans2015/index.html.

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Happy Halloween: Beware of the Rougarou!

October 31, 2014 | Posted by edendavis in Meetings/Events, People
Rougarou

This is a rougarou.

On Saturday October 25th, the Restore the Mississippi River Delta field team came together to recruit supporters for coastal restoration at Rougarou Fest in Houma, Louisiana. Rougarou Fest is a family-friendly festival with a spooky flair that celebrates the rich folklore that exists along the bayous of Southeast Louisiana. It is also the primary fundraiser supporting the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that is working to educate individuals about Louisiana’s disappearing coast.

If you are not a native to southern Louisiana, you may be wondering, “What is a rougarou?” The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations directly from French settlers. In the Cajun legends, the rougarou is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans as well as the fields and forests of the regions. The rougarou is a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to a werewolf!

Restore the Mississippi River Delta tableRougarou Fest was full of fun, along with a few spooky scares. Throughout the day, the field team passed out educational materials and talked to festival goers about the importance of restoring Louisiana wetlands. At the Restore the Mississippi River Delta table, children got temporary tattoos of ghosts and monsters while they colored lively graphics of rougarous, spiders and vampire bats that begged for their ecosystems to be protected. The occasional zombie approached the table with a blank stare and slight growl. The zombies seemed confused and angry that their Louisiana was underwater. Their homes gone. They could not believe that Louisiana is now losing a football field of land every hour!

Citizens participating in the Rougarou Parade in Houma, Louisiana on October 25th, 2014.

Citizens participate in the Rougarou Parade in Houma, Louisiana on October 25th, 2014.

 

At 6 p.m., four brave wetland warriors ran in the Rougarou Zombie Run. They had to dodge dozens of zombies in order to survive the race. Each warrior was given a belt with three flags. Our team of wetland warriors made it out alive but was exhausted from sprinting from the enraged zombies.

At 7 p.m., the Krewe Ga Rou parade rolled with over thirty floats rolling through downtown Houma. Children and adults alike lined the streets with jack-o-lanterns waiting for candy and the occasional spook. The Restore the Mississippi River Delta campaign marched in the parade handing out nearly twenty pounds of candy and over 300 pledge cards, which asked individuals to pledge to vote and to urge candidates to support coastal restoration. Costumes were essential! The Restore the Mississippi River Delta campaign marched as zombie football fans with signs reading “Where’s the Game?” “Every Hour Louisiana Loses a Football Field of Land” and “Restore the Coast, Protect Tradition.” These zombie football fans couldn’t believe that one of Louisiana’s greatest traditions, football, was being threatened. The zombies seemed unable to find the Saints game, as the football field had succumbed to the Gulf of Mexico!

Members of the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign participate in the 2014 Rougarou Festival to raise awareness about Louisiana's disappearing wetlands.

Members of the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign participate in the 2014 Rougarou Fest to raise awareness about Louisiana's disappearing wetlands.

These zombie football players are upset about the disappearing wetlands.

These zombie football players are not happy about the disappearing wetlands.

Rougarou Fest was certainly a fun-filled fall day in Houma! I hope you all have a terrific Halloween, and please, be careful. Avoid essential Rougarou habitat: fields, forests and swamps. Happy Halloween!

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New White House climate agenda focuses on natural infrastructure, climate resilience

October 10, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, Community Resiliency, Meetings/Events, Restoration Projects

By Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund

As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, on Wednesday, the White House announced the release of the Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda. Prepared by the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Climate and Natural Resources Working Group, this commitment across the Federal Government to support resilience of our natural resources is the first of its kind. The agenda identifies a suite of actions the Federal Government will take to increase the resiliency of our country’s natural resources to the current and future effects of climate change.

Shannon Cunniff, Environmental Defense Funds, speaks at the White House announcement.

Shannon Cunniff, Environmental Defense Fund, speaks at the White House about the importance of natural infrastructure and Mississippi River Delta wetlands restoration.

Included in the agenda are actions to protect important ecosystems and to promote climate-resilient lands and water; improve carbon sinks such as wetlands, grasslands and forests; support including natural infrastructure – such as coastal wetlands – into community planning; and modernizing Federal programs and investments to build resilience. A full list of actions as well as a timeline can be found here. The announcement also included new executive actions to support resilient natural systems, including investing in natural infrastructure, supporting coastal resilience and restoring forests in the Lower Mississippi River Delta.

Shannon Cunniff, Environmental Defense Fund, speaks at the White House.

Shannon Cunniff, Environmental Defense Fund.

Shannon Cunniff, deputy director for water programs at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), was invited to speak at the White House Wednesday. “To propel adoption of natural infrastructure as part of a balanced approach to coastal resiliency, EDF aims to demonstrate that incorporating these nature and nature-based systems cost-effectively reduces risks to coastal communities and improves their resiliency, while providing communities with other benefits,” she said.

“Natural infrastructure needs to be seen and embraced as a viable tool for reducing risk,” Shannon continued. Ms. Cunniff went on to point out that natural infrastructure is ideal for enhancing resiliency because:

  1. Natural infrastructure mitigates multiple sources of risk, including reducing tidal flooding, erosion and wave heights. It is especially effective for frequent, chronic impacts of sea level rise, which are predicted to increase with climate change.
  2. It also helps achieve climate adaptation and mitigation goals, as oyster reefs and wetlands also act as carbon sinks.
  3. Its use results in other co-benefits that achieve other public purposes, such as providing open space, recreation, fisheries, water quality improvement and drinking water protection benefits.

In places like the Mississippi River Delta, natural infrastructure works hand-in-hand with traditional “gray” infrastructure, such as levees and floodwalls. Coastal wetlands provide storm surge protection for levees, increasing the structures’ resiliency and helping prevent failure. Natural infrastructure can also reduce the cost of traditional infrastructure, as the height of seawalls or dunes can be reduced if there are enough protective wetlands in front of them. Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan contains a suite of restoration and resilience tools that work in concert to rebuild and protect Louisiana’s vanishing coast.

photo 5

Shannon Cunniff (EDF), Charles Rowney (American Society of Civil Engineers) and Susan Gilson (The National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies).

“What we are after is putting nature and nature-based infrastructure on a more even playing field with gray infrastructure, to provide the fullest set of tools for communities to plan and implement their more sustainable and resilient futures,” said Ms. Cunniff.

The Administration also reaffirmed its commitment to implement the Green Infrastructure Collaborative in the Climate Natural Resources Priority Agenda. The collaborative includes 26 public and private sector organizations – including Environmental Defense Fund – who have pledged to work together to highlight the multitude of benefits provided by natural infrastructure.

In addition to Ms. Cunniff, other speakers at Wednesday’s announcement were Ben Grumbles, President, U.S. Water Alliance; Ann Mills, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Marion McFadden, Deputy Assistant General Counsel, Office of Housing and Community Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Julius Ciaccia, executive director for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

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Cocktails for the Coast

October 8, 2014 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Meetings/Events

By Jesse Soule, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign

As the summer officially came to a close, myself and fellow Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign staff joined other concerned Louisianans at the Eiffel Society on iconic St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans to learn about the increasingly dyer state of our coast. Cocktails for the Coast, an outreach event hosted by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign, provided an engaging atmosphere chock-full of knowledgeable advocates, eager citizens and passionate organizations.

CFC 18 2

One of the highlights of the night included a panel of speakers, who provided first-hand accounts of their unique connections to the coast. Derek Brockbank, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign Director, emphasized the coast’s economic and ecological importance not only to the state of Louisiana, but to the entire nation. In particular, coastal land loss adversely affects local fisheries, wildlife habitats, critical energy infrastructure, commercial trade routes and the livelihood of millions of people. Derek’s investment in coastal restoration, not to mention his commute to New Orleans from Washington, D.C., stands as a testament to the dedication and effort that is critically needed to successfully combat coastal land loss.

CFC `3

Lynda Woolard

We then had the pleasure of listening to Lynda Woolard, a dedicated activist, fundraiser and photographer for a number of the New Orleans’ community organizations. Lynda recounted her experience on a boat tour of the coast which allowed her to truly grasp the severity of our state’s land loss crisis.  In particular, Lynda was shocked at the closeness of the New Orleans skyline to the struggling wetlands, bringing forth the realization that the fate of our beloved city is inextricably tied to the fate of the Mississippi River Delta.

Our final speaker was Kelli Walker, the senior governmental affairs director for the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors. Kelli provided a unique viewpoint, noting the negative impact the receding coastline has had and will continue to have on the housing market, in particular. Notably, rising flood insurance rates are one of the increasingly prevalent issues that realtors and homeowners alike will have to deal with in the future, threatening economic stability in south Louisiana.

CFC 2Also in attendance were several local restoration organizations offering their support while providing attendees with further information regarding their missions. Organizations in attendance included the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement & Development, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the National Audubon Society.

If you are interested in directly restoring Louisiana wetlands, sign up to plant cypress trees with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation on October 10 or 17 in Maurepas, La. Contact Theryn Henkel at (504) 308-3470 or email her at therynhenkel@gmail.com to sign up. The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana also has opportunities to restore our coast on October 10, 11 or 25. Visit www.crcl.org to sign up.

CFC 1

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Join Us Tonight for Cocktails for the Coast!

September 25, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in Meetings/Events

By Eden Davis, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign

10404119_689701577780999_1015034169444415488_nThe Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign is hosting Cocktails for the Coast tonight (September 25) at the Eiffel Society in New Orleans (2040 St. Charles Ave.) from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. This will be an evening celebrating the beautiful wetlands that serve as our city’s first line of defense. There will be music, food, drinks and fun. The first 60 people who arrive will receive a free drink. After that, there are phenomenal drink specials!

There will be several conservation organizations present to provide information and ways to get involved to save our fragile wetlands. We lose a football field every hour, but there are solutions! Folks from the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, the National Audubon Society and the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development will be in attendance to show you how you can be part of the solution to save our coast. To top things off, there will be a raffle drawing for five prize bags.

Come eat, drink and celebrate our beautiful coast tonight at Cocktails for the Coast!

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The Beauty of the Louisiana Barrier Islands

September 23, 2014 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Hurricanes, Meetings/Events, People, Restoration Projects

By Eden Davis, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign

Baby Pelican on Isles DernieresOn September 12, I had the opportunity to travel to Raccoon Island, one of the remaining barrier islands outside of Terrebonne Bay. Raccoon Island was once part of the 25-mile-long barrier island chain called Isles Dernieres or Last Islands. Prior to the Last Island Hurricane of August 10, 1856, Isles Dernieres was a famous resort destination. When the Last Island Hurricane hit, more than 200 people perished in the storm, and the island was left void of vegetation. The hurricane split the island into five smaller islands called East, Trinity, Whiskey, Raccoon and Wine Islands.

On this beautiful summer day, I traveled by boat with 18 other volunteers and employees from the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 13 miles off the coast of Cocodrie to Raccoon Island. As we left Terrebonne Bay, we passed several shrimping boats and a distinctly large jack-up rig that was heading offshore. These were distinct reminders that Louisiana’s coast is a working coast that provides our nation with oil and gas and some of the best seafood one can sink its teeth into.

Pelicans Isle DernieresUpon reaching the island, we saw hundreds of pelicans. Many were in the air, some were in the water and others were on the island with their young whom were not yet able to fly. As we trekked to the beach side of the island, there were beautiful moon shells scattering the sand. Our task was to install a one-mile-long sand fence. This involved rolling out sections of the fence, standing it up and nailing it to the already placed fence posts.

The sand fence will help to restore and protect 20 acres of the rapidly eroding shoreline of Raccoon Island. The island chain used to be one large barrier island, but years of erosion from hurricanes compounded with a loss of sediment from the Mississippi River have broken the island into the four that exist today. The remaining islands continue to erode and, without intervention like the sand fence project, may wash away completely over the next several years. The sand fence will directly protect critical nesting habitat for the pelicans and other seabirds that call these islands home. The sand fence will also help to mitigate erosion.

Isle Dernieres Sand Fence Building IBarrier islands are our communities’ first line of defense. Storm surge during a hurricane will hit these islands before it hits our marshes and communities. Barrier islands are beautiful, but they are on the front lines of sea level rise and subsidence. If we fail to restore them, our grandchildren may never see their splendor. Moreover, the birds that call these islands home will be forced out of their habitat.

Brown pelicans, the island’s primary residents and our state bird, are at great risk if these islands succumb to the Gulf’s waters. Brown pelicans do not migrate. They stay in the mangroves, the beaches and the shores. As the Louisiana coast sinks into the Gulf, the critical habitat for these beautiful birds is threatened.

Sand Fence Isle DernieresIf you have a Friday or Saturday free, consider volunteering with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. They have regular marsh grass plantings, dune restoration projects and other ecosystem protection and restoration projects available for volunteers. Not only will you enjoy a beautiful day outdoors, but you will also be directly restoring and protecting our coast. Check out the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s event calendar here: https://www.thedatabank.com/dpg/316/mtglist.asp?formid=event&caldate=9-1-2014#mtgsrchfrm.

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Conference on Coastal Restoration this Saturday

September 17, 2014 | Posted by Ryan Rastegar in Meetings/Events

Join us this Saturday! National Wildlife Federation, along with the City of New Orleans, will be hosting a conference on Saturday, September 20th to explore the critical role of coastal restoration efforts on the future of the city. All the details can be found on the flyer below. Hope to see you there!

Coastal Restoration Conference

Coastal conference agenda:

Agenda

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Risk and Resilience: Society of Environmental Journalists hosts annual conference this week in New Orleans

September 4, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in BP Oil Disaster, Community Resiliency, Hurricane Isaac, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricanes, Media Resources, Meetings/Events

By Elizabeth Skree, Communications Manager, Environmental Defense Fund

This week, along the Mississippi River at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, hundreds of environmental journalists, reporters and bloggers; journalism students and professors; communications professionals; and NGO and government expert presenters and panelists are gathering for the annual Society of Environmental Journalists Conference. The conference brings together environmental journalists from around the world to learn about emerging environmental issues, meet new sources and experts, learn about new tools and programs, network and socialize.SEJ poster

The theme of this year’s conference is “Risk and Resilience,” and there is no better place to discuss these issues than the Mississippi River Delta. Nine years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and six years after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, it is impressive how much of the region has recovered. But while many areas have been revitalized, there are just as many areas that are still rebuilding. Recent climate reports indicate that coastal cities like New Orleans can expect to see more intense storms in the years to come, amplifying the need for increased storm protection. In 2010, the Gulf oil disaster delivered yet another blow to Louisiana’s coast. Even now, the full effects of the spill are unknown, and oil continues to wash up on shore.

On top of it all, Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, a first line of defense against storms, have been vanishing at a staggering rate: Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 square miles of land. That’s like the state of Delaware disappearing into the ocean. These wetlands help protect cities, communities and infrastructure by lessening the effects of storm surge. But every hour, Louisiana loses another football field of land, putting the region at increased risk.

But there is hope for recovery and the creation of a restored, resilient Mississippi River Delta. Plans are in place to rebuild coastal wetlands, which will in turn help fortify the coast and cities like New Orleans, provide vital habitat for wildlife and migratory birds, create new jobs and protect existing industries and provide a myriad of other ecological and economic benefits to not only Louisiana, but the entire Gulf Coast.

Staff members from the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign will be at this week’s conference serving as tour guides, panelists and exhibitors. They will be available to answer questions about Louisiana’s land loss crisis, the Gulf oil disaster, solutions for restoring the Mississippi River Delta and other environmental issues facing the region. You can find campaign experts on the following field trips and panels:

Thursday field trips:

Louisiana’s Great Lakes, Cypress Swamps and Woodpeckers

  • Alisha Renfro, Staff Scientist, National Wildlife Federation
  • John Lopez, Executive Director and Senior Scientist, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
  • Melanie Driscoll, Director of Bird Conservation, Gulf Coast/Mississippi Flyway, National Audubon Society

Oyster Reefs and Fisheries in the Aftermath of BP and Katrina

  • David Muth, Director, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, National Wildlife Federation

The Long Road Home: Community Resilience, Adaptations, and Legacies From America’s Biggest Rebuild

  • Amanda Moore, Deputy Director, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, National Wildlife Federation

Friday panels:

 “The Globe: Feeding Eight Billion People in a Warming World”

  • Rebecca Shaw, Associate Vice President of Ecosystems and Senior Lead Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund

“Oceans and Coasts: The BP Spill’s Untold Ecological Toll”

  • Natalie Peyronnin, Director of Science Policy, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, Environmental Defense Fund

The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign will also be cohosting a hospitality reception with The Walton Family Foundation Thursday evening from 5:00-9:00pm. Stop by and meet our campaign’s experts and learn more about our work restoring Louisiana’s coast.

We will also have an exhibit booth Friday and Saturday, stop by and pick up materials, hear about our programs and projects and meet some of our staff.

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