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LSU offers coastal sustainability resources online

An image from the new site, www.resiliency.lsu.edu An image from the new site, www.resiliency.lsu.edu

FOX 8 received this news release from Louisiana State University Monday afternoon:

BATON ROUGE – The free Louisiana Resiliency Assistance Program, or LRAP, run by the LSU College of Art & Design's Coastal Sustainability Studio, or CSS, has launched a website, www.resiliency.lsu.edu, which provides village, town, city and parish governments with a profusion of informational resources, access to professional experts, a platform for networking between jurisdictions and a webinar and workshop series, "Planning for a Resilient Future."

The purpose of the new website is to serve as a tool to help Louisiana municipalities prepare for an uncertain future in the dynamic coastal environment.

Louisiana communities face serious vulnerabilities related to natural disasters and climate change: sea level rise land subsidence, changes in rainfall patterns, wetlands loss, storm surge and increased storm strength, to name but a few. Most of these communities, however, do not have access to the resources or expertise needed to adequately address these serious issues. The new LRAP website fills this gap.

"LRAP will be of interest to mayors, city councils, police juries, town administrators, city planners, floodplain managers, emergency managers and staff of local governments, as well as to community leaders and concerned citizens," said CSS Director Jeff Carney. "We encourage them all to get involved in this free program."

The mission of LRAP is to collect, develop, house, and disseminate current planning efforts, resources and best practices to promote, assist and build networks around resiliency planning in Louisiana. One of its goals is to position Louisiana as a national forerunner in planning for climate impacts. Another goal is to build a resiliency planning and communications network enveloping and assisting all Louisiana communities.

Established at CSS in January 2012 as a supplement to the Comprehensive Resiliency Program of the Louisiana Office of Community Development – Disaster Recovery Unit, LRAP has spent its pilot year assisting 30 communities by gathering information and resources, developing locally-generated, case-specific strategies and policies, and offering workshops and webinars.

"We've understood the importance of planning at the local level from the very beginning of the recovery process," Louisiana Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbes said. "And planning is not only important for recovery of a community, but for its long-term resilience in the face of future disasters. That's why we're so pleased to have been able to fund these planning efforts and to work with the LSU CSS to extend the value of this planning to any community in the state that wants to benefit."

LRAP services include guidance on land use, water management and zoning ordinances that enhance community resiliency; implementation planning; resources including case studies, best practices, information about funding opportunities and access to a variety of resiliency organizations; building of partnerships and networks between communities and parishes across the state; training opportunities such as webinars, workshops and educational events; and cohesive vision for regional implications

Goals of LRAP include:

• Building local capacity – provide communities assistance in building their institutional capacity to implement resiliency planning projects;

• Showcase Louisiana resources and best practices – gather, analyze and present best practices from participating communities in a unified, legible form;

• Encourage partnerships and networks – build and participate in networks and partnerships that can offer support at the community, parish, regional and state level;

• Strengthen institutional relationships – provide information and guidance to government, economic and social institutions to further resiliency planning efforts and provide a means of communication across communities;

• Express a shared vision – convey the full breadth and national significance of Louisiana's risk-based planning efforts;

• Build connections between disciplines – break down barriers to collaboration between the various disciplines working on coastal resiliency issues;

• Work at multiple scales – present resiliency planning projects at various levels from small villages to cities, parishes and statewide;

• Serve as a national example – position Louisiana as one of the national forerunners in planning for climate impacts

LRAP work is overseen by Carney, who is also an associate professor of architecture in the LSU School of Architecture, and three research fellows – city/regional planner Katrina Durbak, landscape architect Patrick Michaels and climate scientist/hazards geographer Emily Powell. Graduate students in architecture, landscape design, environmental sciences, engineering, natural resources, and public administration assist the LRAP staff.

Through the state's Comprehensive Resiliency Program, funds are distributed to communities and parishes for 30 projects that will develop forward-thinking land use plans, reduce the risk of future damage to communities and guide development, infrastructure and non-structural mitigation practices. These pilot projects are intended to develop innovative strategies in resiliency planning and be shared with communities throughout the state.

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