Early Draft of Plan to Protect & Restore Our Coast Released for Public Comment
Public Invited to Weigh In
A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center now shows that hurricanes Katrina and Rita consumed 217 square miles of Louisiana's coastal lands last year. According to the USGS National Wetlands Research Center, this is almost half of the 513 square miles net loss that was previously estimated could occur by the year 2050.
This tremendous loss has led to international attention on our coastal wetlands and overwhelming consensus on the importance of protecting and restoring them. In fact, a recent survey of more than 2,500 residents revealed that more than 90% of Louisiana citizens support coastal restoration.
These coastal wetlands act as hurricane speed bumps, helping to abate coastal storm surges and decreasing the intensity of approaching storms. But as the coastal wetlands and barrier islands disappear, so does their ability to buffer hurricanes, and this is a consequence we cannot afford to endure. Protection of South Louisiana's land-based infrastructure and the people living in neighboring coastal communities before, during and after hurricanes is critical.
With nearly one-third of all oil and gas consumed in the United States being produced in or flowing through Louisiana, the restoration and protection of these coastal wetlands is not only important to Louisiana's recovery, but to the nation's prosperity. The restoration of Louisiana's coastal wetlands will help to protect crucial oil and gas infrastructure, thereby helping all Americans by minimizing the impact of future hurricanes on their fuel bills.
The Louisiana Speaks Regional Vision and the State's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) are working together to address the problem.
Louisiana Speaks is a coordinated regional process working toward the development of a more sustainable, long-term vision for South Louisiana. Over the last year, the Louisiana Speaks team has worked with the CPRA to ensure that the choices that Louisiana citizens make about their future considers the unique challenges of South Louisiana's coastal geography.
The CPRA has been mandated by the legislature to fully integrate hurricane protection and coastal restoration in a comprehensive coastal protection master plan. Such a plan is key to our state's long term recovery and rebuilding efforts. Louisiana Speaks and CPRA are working to ensure that the coastal plan will be informed by the public's wants and needs.
The CPRA released its preliminary draft of Louisiana's Comprehensive Coastal Protection Master Plan to the public the last week in November 2006. This plan is the result of a year of planning and discussions involving coastal wetlands scientists and experts, parish and civic leaders, stakeholders and residents of coastal areas, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Louisiana Speaks planners. Early public input on the development of the plan was a major component of the Louisiana Speaks. Public workshops in July of 2006 included discussions about coastal protection. For a summary of the input collected at these meetings, visit www.louisianaspeaks.org/static.html?id=53.
The plan adopts a "multiple lines of defense" strategy to protect population and restore wetlands. Among other things, the plan would rebuild barrier islands and shorelines, divert freshwater from the Mississippi River to sustain and rebuild wetlands, close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MR-GO), reinforce existing levees and build new ones.
"This is a detailed conceptual vision of the future of coastal Louisiana," said Jon Porthouse, project director for the CPRA integrated planning team. "A completely integrated approach for both restoration and protection must be implemented to meet our objectives."
The first draft of the CPRA plan is available at www.louisianacoastalplanning.org. For more information regarding the CPRA and this plan, contact the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities at (225) 342-3968 or by email at [email protected].
CITIZENS INVITED TO COMMENT ON PLAN
Louisiana citizens have the opportunity, through the CPRA's planning effort and the Louisiana Speaks long-range planning initiative, to voice their opinion and make choices regarding the future of South Louisiana.
The CPRA is conducting a series of public meetings to receive public input on Louisiana's preliminary draft Comprehensive Coastal Protection Master Plan:
Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center
346 Civic Center Boulevard, Houma
Mon., Dec. 11, 2:00 PM to 6:30 PM (open house); 6:30 PM (meeting)
UNO Research and Technology Park Foundation
Lindy C. Boggs International Conference Center
2045 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans
Tues., Dec 12, noon to 6:30 PM (open house); 6:30 PM (meeting)
Lake Charles Civic Center
900 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles
Wed., Dec. 13, 3:00 PM to 6:30 PM (open house); 6:30 PM (meeting)
Greater Covington Center
317 North Jefferson Avenue, Covington
Thurs., Dec. 14, 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM (open house); 7:00 PM (meeting)
AA Comeaux Youth, Inc.
300 AA Comeaux Memorial Drive, Suite 200, Abbeville
Fri., Dec. 15, 2:00 PM to 6:30 PM (open house); 6:30PM (meeting)
Comments may also be sent by January 5, 2007 to:
CPRA Integrated Planning Team
Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 94396
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9396
Louisiana Speaks is incorporating the CPRA's work on coastal restoration and storm protection into the choices people will make in order to create the Regional Vision for South Louisiana.
Public input gathered through these community meetings and the Louisiana Speaks Regional Visioning process will be used to help write the final coastal protection and restoration master plan, which will be presented to the State Legislature for approval in April 2007.
Louisiana Speaks is the long-term planning initiative of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. With support from the LRA Support Foundation, Louisiana Speaks has engaged a team of top local and national planning experts to gather public input and support the development of a regional vision for South Louisiana that will guide long-term recovery and future growth. This work combines the efforts of many experts, stakeholders and citizens into a comprehensive approach that will be used to guide investments and secure additional resources for Louisiana.
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in our state's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.