One step forward for plan to restore the coast
Louisiana’s 2012 comprehensive coastal restoration and hurricane protection master plan took another big step toward final legislative approval this week when the state senate approved it without a dissenting vote.
The next step is approval by the state’s House of Representatives. The plan must first get approval from house committees on natural resources and transportation and infrastructure before moving to the house floor for an up or down vote. The legislative session ends in early June.
Many coastal scientists and conservation organizations have called the plan the most comprehensive and scientifically-sound document for restoring Louisiana’s coastal wetlands and protecting infrastructure and communities written to date, laying out a 50-year strategy that could cost as much as $50 billion.
It contains a host of coastal restoration projects and techniques including large-scale marsh creation projects, barrier island restorations and water and sediment diversions designed to reconnect the Mississippi River and its distributaries with adjacent coastal wetlands.
The plan optimistically envisions that Louisiana’s coastal land loss, which is the fastest rate of land loss in the world, can be significantly curbed or even reversed in the next half century. Currently, Louisiana loses about 18 square miles a year and has lost nearly 2000 square miles of coastal wetlands, barrier islands and other habitats in the last 80 years.
Without construction of the large-scale diversions and many of the marsh creation projects, the plan is far less optimistic about the future of Louisiana’s coast. As much as 500 square miles more of coastal habitats could wash away or sink into the Gulf of Mexico in the next 50 years without the aggressive efforts called for in the plan.
The plan can be read at www.coastal.louisiana.gov.