As more of coastal Louisiana is lost, official map makers erase names

Published: Feb. 25, 2014 at 4:02 AM CST
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Brown Pelicans find a landing spot on a rapidly eroding island in Cat Bay in Plaquemines Parish.
Brown Pelicans find a landing spot on a rapidly eroding island in Cat Bay in Plaquemines Parish.

PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LA (WVUE) - As Louisiana barrier islands, marshes and swamps melt away, some of the best-selling fiction in the bookstore might just be the Louisiana state map.

"They're becoming memories," said David Muth, describing many of the bays and land features that have vanished along Louisiana's rapidly eroding coastline.

Muth, Louisiana State Director of National Wildlife Federation's Coastal Louisiana Campaign, believes that fishermen and others have "sort of been renaming these points as they moved."

Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officially delisted 31 sites in Plaquemines Parish.

The sites are mostly small bodies of water, once surrounded by land features.

Yellow Cotton Bay, which had been a prime fishing spot in Plaquemines Parish, no longer exists.

"Eventually, the map maker can't make sense of it anymore," Muth said.

NOAA took the sites off its charts, merging them into larger bodies of water, such as Barataria Bay.

NOAA scientists believe if the current trends of land loss continue, Barataria Bay and Terrebonne Bay could become one.

"The merging of those two very big features is absolutely inevitable if we don't do anything," Muth said. "Even if we spend a tremendous amount of money, we may not be able to prevent."

Many scientists and engineers still see a decent chance they can hold together the land that forms the natural levee along Bayou Lafourche and old LA Highway 1 south of Leeville.

However, planners warn they cannot save all of coastal Louisiana, not even what remains today.

"Everything is contingent on how much money we manage to raise and how quickly we manage to act," Muth said.