Talk to anyone in South Louisiana and they know that the future is clouded by sea level rise and subsidence. They also know that if the Master Plan for the Coast is not implemented on time, as scheduled, Southeast Louisiana has very little chance of staying above that sea level rise.
Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 6:47 pm
The U.S. lost an average of 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands from 2004 to 2009, according to the latest data published by federal agencies. More than 70 percent of the estimated loss came in the Gulf of Mexico; nationwide, most of the loss was blamed on development that incurred on freshwater wetlands.
"The losses of these vital wetlands were 25 percent greater than during the previous six years," NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports for our Newscast unit. She also notes that the loss equals "about seven football fields every hour."
International Paper has donated its Lake Erling property in South Arkansas' Lafayette County to the Shreveport-based AGRED Foundation. It stands for American Gamebird Research Education and Development.
Officials dedicate interactive signs at Bayou Bienvenue viewing platform.
A viewing platform on the edge of the Lower Ninth Ward can now offer visitors a chance to see the damage done to wetlands by saltwater intrusion. They can also watch through new interactive signs as restoration projects try to repair the damage at Bayou Bienvenue.
The idea that grass can armor anything is hard to believe.
But on a recent visit to the Lake Pontchartrain levee, LSU agronomist Jeff Beasley explained how plain old, garden variety grass has earned a reputation with the US Army Corps of Engineers as one of the best armoring materials to keep the huge mud walls of a levee from collapsing during a storm.
"You know how we reinforce concrete with rebar?" says Beasley. "We can do the same with these levees."
This special multimedia feature — from The Weather Channel and New Orleans-based reporter Katy Reckdahl and photographer Kathleen Flynn — examines how and why the Louisiana coast is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico, largely through the eyes of the people living there.
Because of a slow-moving disaster caused by sinking land, climate change and oil exploration, Louisiana's coastal families must choose between leaving their homes for higher ground or staying where generations of their families lived, on land so precarious the next hurricane could wash them away.
New Orleans' levee board is suing energy companies for damaging the Mississippi River delta by cutting canals through the marshland. The canals let in sea water, which kills marshes, eroding the city's protective buffer against storms. A map of the delta.
Credit Frank Relle
The canals have become tools for the local seafood and charter-fishing business, too. Dr. John Lopez of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation holds a crab trap pulled from a canal. A dormant natural-gas well is in the background.
Anyone following the development of the Master Plan for the Louisiana coast knows that the central part of the plan is also its most controversial: large scale river diversions, opening the levees on the sides of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans to let the silt-carrying Mississippi out into these sinking deltas to begin rebuilding them.
But not everyone’s happy with that, because restoring the deltas to their former state means changing things from the way they’ve been for almost 70 years.