Baton Rouge (June 1, 2007)- The Louisiana Legislature has unanimously approved the state’s first comprehensive master plan for coastal restoration and hurricane protection. Passed Wednesday, just ahead of an Atlantic hurricane season forecast to be unusually active, the plan is designed to guide all coastal protection and wetland restoration projects in Louisiana over the next several decades.
Entitled, “Integrated Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection: Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast,” the plan is the result of more than 18 months of extensive research, writing, planning and public discussion.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said the new master plan brings accountability and public input on a level never before achieved. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor) “As we begin the 2007 Hurricane Season, this first master plan stands as a testament to our resolve, incorporating hurricane protection and coastal restoration for the first time in our state’s history,” said Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, who steered her state through the devastating 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“This comprehensive master plan will have a lasting impact on the safety of our citizens and the welfare of our state,” the governor said.
Louisiana Senator Reggie Dupre, left, and Representative Loulan Pitre, chairmen of the Senate and House committees studying coastal restoration and flood control, brief other committee members and officials on the past, present and future of Louisiana’s coastline. (Photo courtesy Louisiana State Senate) More than 30 meetings with civic groups, coastal scientists, concerned citizens and various stakeholders were conducted since the summer of 2006 to gather input and introduce the public to some of the concepts and potential projects in the plan.
Louisiana’s coastal zone contains almost 40 percent of the lower 48 states’ coastal wetlands and includes the Atchafalaya River Basin, a large area of bottomland forest. (Photo courtesy USGS) Integrating coastal restoration with hurricane protection in a system-wide approach, the Master Plan will be the overarching framework for all ongoing and future coastal restoration and protection efforts in the state, such as the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act and the Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration.
It recommends strategies, including rebuilding and sustaining coastal marshes by restoring the natural freshwater flows and sediment deposits that were originally responsible for building the wetlands along Louisiana’s coast.
Barrier island restoration, beneficial use of dredged materials to build marsh, shoreline stabilization of coastal lakes and bays, and coastal forest and ridge habitat restoration, are identified in the plan as well. The plan suggests a multi-faceted approach to hurricane protection.
After Hurricane Rita an American flag is planted on a sandbar that was once a road in Louisiana’s Holly Beach, a gulfside tourist and fishing community. October 3, 2005. (Photo by Win Henderson courtesy FEMA) Created by law in December 2005 after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, CPRA’s mandate is to be the single state entity with authority to articulate a clear statement of priorities and develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan.
The state is working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers as it develops its Congressionally-mandated Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan, LaCPR, which is due to Congress in December. According to Corps of Engineers’ officials, LaCPR will use the state’s Master Plan as the vision for its efforts.
The Corps is on schedule to meet the Congressionally-mandated deadline to have a draft of the report complete for Congressional review, Aguilera said. A final report similar to the state plan will be complete by July 2008.
Environmental News Service
Louisiana State Master Plan