Latest Mississippi River Delta News: August 14, 2014

August 14, 2014 | Posted by Ashley Peters in Latest News

Louisiana and 20 coastal parishes to share 20 percent of initial Restore Act money
By Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune. Aug. 13, 2014.
“Louisiana and 20 coastal parishes will share 20 percent of the the first two baskets…” (read more)

Treasury Issues RESTORE Act Rule to…"

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Groups Praise Release of Gulf Restoration Guidelines

August 13, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in Media Resources

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, eskree@edf.org
Erin Greeson, National Audubon Society, 503.913.8978, egreeson@audubon.org 

Groups Praise Release of Gulf Restoration Guidelines

“Today’s regulations are a vital step forward on the long road to restoring the Mississippi River Delta”

(August 13, 2014—Washington, DC) This morning, the Treasury Department released an Interim Final Rule describing how RESTORE Act funds can be spent.

The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign – a coalition of Environmental Defense FundNational Wildlife FederationNational Audubon SocietyLake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana – issued the following statement:

“Today’s regulations are a vital step forward on the long road to restoring the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana, which was ground zero for the 2010 oil disaster. We thank the Treasury Department for preserving the RESTORE Act’s intended purpose to restore damaged ecosystems.

“The Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana is a cornerstone for the ecological and economic well-being of the entire northern Gulf. But Louisiana is losing a football field of land every hour – a land loss crisis that was further exacerbated by the oil spill. All along the Gulf Coast, environmental restoration is urgently needed. There is no time to lose, especially in the delta.

“We hope this rule will provide the RESTORE Council and the state of Louisiana with the information needed to expedite progress to develop a funded project list and restore our coast. Our communities, wildlife and local economies depend on comprehensive ecosystem restoration so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Background:

The RESTORE Act sends 80 percent of all Clean Water Act fines resulting from the 2010 Gulf oil disaster back to the Gulf states to use for restoration. Once these regulations from the Treasury Department are finalized, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will be able to access $800 million from the Transocean settlement.

BP and other parties responsible for the oil spill face as much as $4,300 per barrel in Clean Water Act fines. The ongoing trial is set to resume in January 2015.

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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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Latest Mississippi River Delta News: August 13, 2014

August 13, 2014 | Posted by Ashley Peters in Latest News

Terrebonne Parish pitching several versions of billion-dollar sediment project
By Xerxes Wilson, Louisiana Sportsman. Aug. 12, 2014.
“Terrebonne Parish is ready to pitch a billion-dollar sediment pipeline concept for inclusion…” (read more)

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Latest Mississippi River Delta News: August 12, 2014

August 12, 2014 | Posted by Ashley Peters in Latest News

Follow Along With The Coastal Desk's 'Vanishing Coast' Tour Of Chauvin
By Laine Kaplan-Levenson & Jesse Hardman, WWNO. Aug. 11, 2014.
“WWNO’s Coastal Desk is heading to Chauvin, Louisiana to visit some sites that are in danger…” (read more)

Gulf oyster harvest way down since oil spill; fishermen blame BP, company…"

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