Coastal Desk

Southeast Louisiana is sinking under the waves faster than any coastal landscape in the world. With so much at stake for Louisiana and the nation, WWNO has made coastal news a priority.

Since mid-2014 our Coastal Desk reporting team has been producing frequent news reports and in-depth features covering coastal erosion and restoration; hurricane protection; offshore energy and other coastal businesses; wildlife and fisheries impacts; and coastal communities and culture.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

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Eve Troeh / WWNO

Those who have been lucky enough to travel to the Wax Lake Delta are prone to gush about it. Just ask Ben Weber, who leads trips to the area as an outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation.

From above one can see how the lush, green Delta has spread out into the Gulf over time, a bit of an outlier in a region now more used to seeing coastal land retreat due to sea level rise and erosion.

Jesse Hardman / WWNO

The Army Corps of Engineers is getting closer to completing new storm protection at the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals.

The $615 million system is scheduled to be done in less than three years. Its permanent structures will reduce risk of 100-year level storm surges in New Orleans.

Lieutenant Colonel Austin Appleton is the Army Corps Deputy Commander for the New Orleans District. “What this is doing is pushing the defense of the storm surge to the edge of the city," he says. "Prior, the defense was the interior walls of the canal.”

Vanishing Points / Wetlands Discovery Center

WWNO’s Coastal Desk is heading to Chauvin, Louisiana to visit some sites that are in danger of being washed out by coastal erosion and sea level rise. After visiting the working coast camp in Houma last month, Laine Kaplan-Levenson learned of the Wetlands Discovery Center’s Vanishing Points project. This online mapping tool identifies and tells the stories of various locations that are at risk of disappearing.

Plaquemines Parish

Plaquemines Parish officials are partnering with the Army Corps of Engineers on a new coastal dredging initiative.

The plan is to use sediment dredged from the Mississippi River shipping channel to create 300 to 600 acres of marsh habitat. This will help create a natural buffer against storm surge.

Colonel Rick Hansen is commander of the New Orleans District office of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Michel Varisco

New Orleans native and local fine arts photographer Michel Varisco developed a curiosity about the Gulf Coast region at a young age. With a mother who is a former biochemist, and engineer dad, she started learning on family road trips. Her dad would explain the Bonnet Carré Spillway, or point out dead trees while driving down LA1 to Grande Isle. 

Top academics and practitioners in the field of environmental restoration are in New Orleans this week, meeting as part of the 2014 Conference of Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration.

Experts will be sharing coastal restoration examples from the Gulf of Mexico to the Persian Gulf, from Southeast Asia's Mekong Delta to the Mississippi Delta.

Hey Gang! This week, Harry Shearer plays Kiss This!, a song for rich rock stars. He also looks at this week's environmental news, with What the Frack?, News of Inspectors General, News of Secrets, News of the Atom, and The Apologies of the Week, and more.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

South Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish has low unemployment — there are lots of jobs in offshore services. So many that there could be a shortage of locals with the skills needed. The Working Coast summer camp in Houma teaches kids about the big industries in their area, and aims to get them excited about those career paths.

About 30 kids hang their fishing poles over a small bridge outside the Water Life Museum in Houma, Louisiana. They’re enjoying their last day at the Working Coast Camp.

Jesse Hardman / WWNO

The face of coastal erosion in Louisiana is often defined by the most visibly threatened communities. Towns that are literally trying to determine how long they have before they might have to move. And while there’s few people calling on New Orleans residents to start making Plan B’s, some local leaders are trying to get their constituents to be more aware. 

Ron Knight / Flickr

The 2010 BP Oil Spill ruined the Cat Island bird sanctuary, a pelican nesting site. Plaquemines Parish got initial funds to restore the island, but has failed to raise the rest needed. Now, the project leader is starting restoration anyway.

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