Archive for Meetings/Events


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

October 10, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree 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.

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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.

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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.

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Join Us Tonight for Cocktails for the Coast!

September 25, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree 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 Skree 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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Public meetings in Louisiana to solicit feedback on RESTORE Council funding distribution

August 29, 2014 | Posted by Ryan Rastegar in Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, Meetings/Events, RESTORE Act

The green portion refers to the 30% that the RESTORE Council will help distribute.

The State of Louisiana is hosting three meetings in September to increase public awareness around the funding distribution of the RESTORE Act and to request additional feedback and ideas from the public. The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, also known as the RESTORE Council, is responsible for distributing 30% of the money directed to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. Members of the public are invited to submit formal proposals for projects or programs for funding consideration, to voice support for existing projects, or to provide general feedback on priorities for Gulf restoration at these meetings.

Projects proposed for funding through the Council-selected component must ultimately be submitted by members of the RESTORE Council. Representatives from federal agencies on the RESTORE Council and members of the RESTORE Council staff have been invited to join the State of Louisiana in receiving public input and project ideas. Federal agencies have also been invited to participate in the open house portion of the first two meetings so that members of the public can learn more about opportunities to engage with those agencies.

We invite you to attend one of the following meetings to learn about the process and to discuss your ideas:

Thursday, September 4, 2014 
University of New Orleans Homer Hitt Alumni Center
2000 Lakeshore Drive
New Orleans, LA
5:30 p.m. Open House
6:00 p.m. Formal Meeting (brief background presentation by State of Louisiana followed by listening session

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Houma Municipal Auditorium
880 Verret Street
Houma, LA
5:30 p.m. Open House
6:00 p.m. Formal Meeting (brief background presentation by State of Louisiana followed by listening session)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board Meeting
SEED Center
Willis Noland Room
4310 Ryan Street, 2nd Floor
Lake Charles, LA
9:30 a.m. (dedicated public comment period)

 Public input may also be submitted by phone, mail, or by email at the information below:

Mail: Attn: Jenny Kurz, CPRA, P.O. Box 44027, Baton Rouge, LA, 70804
Phone: Meg Bankston: (225) 342-4844
Email: coastal@la.gov

More information about the project submittal process can be found here.

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You’re invited: Join experts to talk about cost of restoring Louisiana's coast and who will pay

August 18, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, Media Resources, Meetings/Events

The Lens, with sponsorship from the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Coalition, is hosting a panel discussion on the financing of Louisiana's $50-billion Coastal Master Plan at Loyola University this Wednesday, Aug. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m.

This event is designed to send the audience home with a solid understanding of how to restore our coast. An example of questions The Lens plans to address include the following:

  1. How far can we go on the current master plan with the funding in place as well as future funding the state believes it can count on?
  2. What will happen to the scope of the master plan, and the coast, if we don’t secure funding sources beyond that date?
  3. What are the chances Congress will step up in the next decade and provide substantial funding?
  4. What are alternative sources of money?
  5. What can you do to help with this challenge?

Who:

When:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 20
  • 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Loyola University, Miller Hall 114

Questions: amueller@TheLensNola.org or (504) 258-1624

Light refreshments will be served.

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Wax Lake Delta Tour Showcases New Land

August 13, 2014 | Posted by Ashley Peters in Meetings/Events, Restoration Projects

By Philip Russo, Plaquemines Parish Outreach Coordinator, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Coalition

Ashore

A couple weeks ago, I traveled down the Atchafalaya River’s Wax Lake Outlet on a boat tour attended by state officials, coastal restoration advocates and media personnel. The outlet, constructed in 1941 to reduce flood stages at Morgan City, has had the serendipitous effect of creating its own delta—one particle of clay at a time.

Our boats approached one of the outlet’s delta islands. This large island, and others like it, formed over the last two decades. As a young man growing up here, I explored the warm, muddy bayous and dense cypress swamps surrounding Morgan City. There was deep satisfaction in knowing where I could hook catfish or stalk alligator. However, I didn't understand the significance of the area gaining land. Complex wetland ecosystems look simple when you don’t see the “swamp for the trees,” and I was oblivious to the larger role this watery landscape played in supporting our economy, protecting our communities and incubating our culture.

When we pulled ashore, Paul Kemp, a coastal oceanographer and geologist at Louisiana State University, said, “If we tried to propose a sediment diversion like this, they would say we’re crazy,” because the Wax Lake Outlet is a very large diversion with no control structures. However, "when you look at the landloss maps, this is the one place that’s [building land].”

Island Stubble

As an experienced professor, Kemp knows how to put this into perspective. In addition to building land, he described how the Atchafalaya’s sediment-rich waters help salt and brackish marshes, that line the nearby bays, keep up with sea level rise. “They are sustained by mud that comes into the bays and then gets re-suspended through tidal and wind action.”

He concluded that, these systems need mineral sediment, not just decaying organic matter and “deltas just don’t do very well in the absence of a river.”

When talking about coastal restoration in terms of rivers, deltas, and islands, it’s easy to focus on the sediment, especially if you’re hanging around a geologist. But the diversity and robustness of the plants, and thus the wildlife, is undeniable. According to Bren Haase at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, “You just don’t see this in deteriorating deltas; you see this in building deltas.”

The Louisiana Wildlife Federation was perceptive in organizing this trip to give state officials, restoration advocates, and media personnel hands on experience with a growing delta. For me personally, it confirmed that I’ve come a long way in understanding and appreciating our wetlands. And it’s encouraging to see I haven’t made this journey alone since recent polls show that protecting and restoring our coast is a major public priority.

To those who haven’t had a chance, go to Wax Lake and see for yourself the possibilities for our coast.

Wax Lake Island

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“Party with a Purpose” brings together young professionals, coastal restoration advocates

June 25, 2014 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Meetings/Events

By Eden Davis, Greater New Orleans Outreach Coordinator, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign

On Wednesday June 18, the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign and the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a “Party with a Purpose” for young professionals. More than 64 young professionals came out to enjoy the evening at Brisbi’s restaurant in Lakeview. The event highlighted the coastal land loss crisis that Louisiana is currently facing as well as solutions to restore our coast.

Brisbi's 3

Louisiana loses a football field of wetlands every hour. Since 1932, Louisiana has lost more than 1.2 million acres of wetlands. It is projected that if no action is taken to restore the coast, Louisiana will lose another 1 million acres over the next 50 years.

“Party with a Purpose” was attended by young professionals from the insurance, real estate, banking, non-profit, marketing and sales industries who came to socialize and learn more about Louisiana’s land loss crisis, solutions for restoration and how to get involved.

Brisbis water

Brisbi’s was a fitting venue to remind attendees of Louisiana’s land loss crisis. The restaurant fronts the marina that opens into Lake Pontchartrain. During Hurricane Katrina, the waters of Lake Pontchartrain rose and a section of the levee flood wall along the 17th Street Canal near the lake collapsed. This was one of the most significant levee failures during Hurricane Katrina. Floodwater from the flood wall breach inundated large parts of Lakeview in a matter of minutes, including Brisbi’s. Near the breach itself, the force of the storm surge uprooted trees and even separated some houses from their foundations. Some areas received as much as 14 feet of floodwater.

As New Orleanians, we often forget we live on the coast, but one can easily be reminded by visiting Brisbi’s on the lakefront. In New Orleans, we are protected by the marshes, wetlands and barrier islands which stand between our city and the open Gulf of Mexico. It’s this natural infrastructure which protects our communities, businesses and homes from being inundated with storm surge when hurricanes hit coastal Louisiana.

Info Table

While Louisiana has invested in a $14-billion Greater New Orleans Hurricane Protection System, which includes miles of levees and state-of-the-art pumps, the levees were not engineered to withstand open water. The levees were designed to be protected by thriving wetlands and marsh.

In order to protect our vibrant city, unique culture, thriving economy and distinct communities, we must take action NOW to restore our coast. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep updated on efforts to restore coastal Louisiana. Additionally, if you would like to receive coastal restoration and land loss updates as well as updates on ways you can join the fight to save Louisiana’s coast, please email myself, Eden Davis, at davise@nwf.org.

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