Travis Lux

Coastal Reporter

Travis is WWNO's coastal reporter. His reporting has covered a wide range of topics -- from science and health to arts and culture. His stories have aired on local public radio stations and national shows.

Before joining WWNO, Travis reported for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas, and for WRKF in Baton Rouge. He he studied Anthropology and Sociology at Rhodes College and radio production at the Transom Story Workshop. 

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LSU/LUMCON

The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where the oxygen is so low that fish and shrimp can’t live.

 

Scientists say this year’s dead zone is 8,776 square miles now -- about the size of New Jersey. Over the last five years it’s averaged 5,543 square miles.

 

It’s caused largely by agricultural runoff from the Midwest, and brought downstream by the Mississippi River. That runoff is high in nitrates, from fertilizer, which causes algae to bloom. When the algae dies, it sucks oxygen out of the water.

Brett Duke / Nola.com|The Times-Picayune

Every Friday we sit down with coastal reporters at Nola.com/The Times-Picayune to recap the week's coastal news.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO's Travis Lux chats with Nola.com/The Times-Picayune's Sara Sneath. They talk about a big, new model of the Mississippi River at LSU, then head to Vermillion Parish for a case study on what can happen in the absence of a comprehensive levee system.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

A federal audit says FEMA should stop sending money to the City of New Orleans for repairing road and water-system damage sustained during hurricanes Katrina and Rita almost 12 years ago.

 

FEMA disagrees with the findings, and the city plans to press forward with repairs.

 

In order to get money from FEMA to repair its streets and sewer lines, city officials had to prove the damage was caused directly by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After reviewing documents and consulting with engineers, FEMA agreed. It pledged to give the city $2.04 billion in December 2015.

Travis Lux / WWNO

More than 100 volunteers fanned out across City Park over the weekend for something called BioBlitz. It was an effort to document all the plants and critters that call the park home, and meant to help the park plan for the future.

 

Sean Augustine may be eight years old, but he knows how to prepare for a day in the woods. He’s got a big hat, multi-pocketed cargo pants, and boots. He’s also got a raincoat on hand because he doesn’t want anything to get in the way of the day’s mission.

Lauren Sullivan / Flicker/CC BY-SA 2.0

A new study shows Louisiana’s land loss has slowed down a little bit. But that’s still not necessarily good news.

 

It’s almost become a tired refrain here in Louisiana -- the state loses an average of about a football field of land every hour. Now it takes about 100 minutes, roughly an hour and a half for that much land to wash into the Gulf of Mexico.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC BY 2.0)

Louisiana isn’t the only place in the world trying to fight back the ocean. Much of the Netherlands is below sea level, and the Dutch are well-known for their water management expertise.

 

State officials in Louisiana are signing a formal agreement to tap into that knowledge.

 

Travis Lux / WWNO

Louisiana’s coast is disappearing for a few reasons: natural sinking of the land, saltwater intrusion, and sea level rise.

 

Now there’s another threat: a little tiny bug from the other side of the ocean. It’s killing plants and destroying marshes at the mouth of the river, worrying the state and the shipping industry.

 

Travis Lux / WWNO

The state has a coastal master plan to stave off land loss and each parish has it’s own plans for the coast.

 

In Terrebonne Parish, officials are looking for public buy-in. Earlier this week they invited people to the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center for Coastal Day -- a science fair of sorts displaying all the coastal projects in their backyard.

 

The Data Center

Louisiana spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year to restore and protect the coastline with big earth-moving projects, like building marshes and barrier islands.

 

The state hires professional contractors to bring in their backhoes, dozers, dredges and workboats to do the job. It’s big business. But a new report says not enough of that money is staying in the state. And with billions of dollars coming from the BP settlement, some see that as a problem.

 

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

Much of the money the state plans to get through the BP oil spill settlement will go toward big construction projects -- building barrier islands and levees.

 

Some of that money is reserved for coastal research projects, and the first projects have been announced.

 

One of the big ways the scientific research gets done on the coast is through specific projects. The state or the feds have money for a project -- like a barrier island -- and they might ask scientists to look into something for them.

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