Coastal experts say Louisiana is on verge of major restoration effort

Coastal experts say Louisiana is on verge of major restoration effort

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Hundreds of stakeholders along the Louisiana coast hashed out ideas, Wednesday in New Orleans, trying to figure out ways to stop the bleeding.

Many say that without more major diversion projects, scores of acres will soon be lost.

As an example, in the past six years, FOX 8 documented firsthand the loss of an island off the Plaquemines Parish coast.

"Where there had been a thriving metropolis each spring, and summer an avian ghost town," said FOX 8's John Snell in the latest installment of a series of reports.

Cat island no longer harbors pelicans, or even exists, and if more isn't done soon, thousands of acres, will follow suit.

"The future without action, what 50 years looks like if we do nothing, and the pink is land loss," said Richard Raynie with the Louisiana Coastal Protection Authority, who was standing before a large map forecasting thousands of acres about to be lost to erosion.

Concerns about coastal loss, filled meeting rooms at the Morial Convention Center,  with more than one thousand scientists, elected officials, and contractors who will actually do the projects.

"We're on the verge of the greatest ecological engineering experiment ever.  What we're attempting has never been attempted on this scale before," said Kimberly Davis Reyher with the 'Coalition to Restore Coastal La.'

It is an impressive gathering with a lot of different viewpoints being represented, but at some point, many say, the talk must stop, and the projects must get underway.

"If we waited until we had all the answers we would never construct any restoration projects," said Raynie.

The state will get $8 billion over the next 15 years to rebuild lost land.

"What we need is large scale systemic projects that will build land on an ongoing basis and that's what pipelines will do," said Reyher.

Some of those pipelines are already building land, but there are concerns about new land going under, as it's done before.

"We've got to establish a perimeter to slow the tide surge," said Plaquemines Parish President Amos Cormier.

Many worry about the impact of sand and river water on seafood.

"They're willing to give up whatever they have to give up to make that happen, but they just want to make sure the sediment diversion works," said St Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis.

And that's the goal here, as more people than ever, appear to be working together in a bid to save what's left of our coast.

The Coastal Protection Authority is touting a program it calls it's 'adaptive management plan' which will  allow adjustments to a diversion project, as they are underway. Most of the diversions will be designed to work when the river is at it's highest points, and carrying the highest sediment load,  usually in the spring.

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