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Coast in Crisis: Louisiana suffers the fastest rate of land loss in North America

Coast in Crisis
Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 9:11 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Louisiana has been losing land for decades, but for the first time, the state has billions of dollars stemming from the BP oil spill to address the problem.

The most common estimate is Louisiana loses roughly the equivalent of a football field of land every 90 minutes. But that’s not a constant.

In some years, thanks to coastal restoration projects, the state might actually gain a little land. And in years when there are major disasters, the results can be devastating.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates Hurricane Ida chewed through more than 100 square miles of land, making 2021 a year of significant land loss. Much of the western side of Barataria Bay was damaged.

Satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows damage to the Delta Farms area near...
Satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows damage to the Delta Farms area near Barataria Bay(European Sa | ESA)

More: Satellite imagery seems to indicate Hurricane Ida caused significant damage to parts of Louisiana’s coast

For coastal Louisiana, the challenges are many. There is no one cause behind the loss of two thousand square miles in less than a century.

The delta, disconnected from the river, sinks several feet in some places.

The changes that are happening in coastal Louisiana are just outside our perception.

Louisiana is sinking and, as scientists warn, the seas are rising at an accelerated rate - threatening to swamp even more land.

All that was left of that little spot was a little island, a small spit of land, separated from...
All that was left of that little spot was a little island, a small spit of land, separated from the shoreline with a lone cypress tree.(John Snell)

COAST IN CRISIS

Hurricane Ida is a reminder of how much Louisiana’s coast is changing

Hurricane Ida dealt a serious blow to Louisiana’s “floating marsh”

The state is fighting back with billions of dollars, including dredging projects that build islands and marsh practically instantly.

The most ambitious projects would reconnect nature’s plumbing, channeling river water into the marsh in hope of mimicking the Mississippi’s land-building powers.

Commercial fishermen and others worried about the negative effects on sea life, push back.

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