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Louisiana releases draft 2017 Coastal Master Plan

Environmental Issues // January 5, 2017

Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has released a draft 2017 Coastal Master Plan that, if approved, will serve as the blueprint for the state’s coastal restoration and protection activities over the next 50 years. CPRA is legally required to update its master plan every five years to account for the best available science. This update builds on prior Coastal Master Plans released in 2012 and 2007.

In the draft plan, CPRA provides a prioritized list of US$50 billion in coastal restoration and risk-reduction activities to address the state’s increasingly severe land loss and sea level rise. The master plan seeks to reduce risks from storm surge flooding and rebuild and sustain critical wildlife and fisheries habitats to ensure a stronger future for Louisiana’s coast.

In response to the release, Restore the Mississippi River Delta – a coalition of local and national organizations that have worked on coastal restoration in Louisiana for decades, including the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation and National Audubon Society – released the following statement:

“There is no more significant charge facing our state than the urgent need to respond effectively to the loss of our coast. We must act to secure a strong, safe and productive future for the people, wildlife and industries of coastal Louisiana. As seas continue to rise and land continues to sink, we need to put our existing resources to work wisely, and quickly, to maintain as much of the Louisiana we all know and love.

“This master plan process advances a strategy grounded in the best available science that balances coastal restoration and protection activities – and is realistic about the coastal challenges we face. But with these challenges come opportunities, and we look forward to reviewing this draft master plan in the belief that it must present a strong vision for securing a more safe and prosperous future for coastal Louisiana.

“Louisiana has a powerful resource at its disposal – the Mississippi River – and we are encouraged to see sediment diversions remain a cornerstone of the master plan. Sediment diversions are crucial to both building and maintaining land, as well as protecting investments made in levees and other protection projects. The state should do everything in its power to get sediment diversions constructed quickly, so we can harness the power of the Mississippi River to sustainably build land. More importantly, as coastal conditions decline, the state must begin to expand ways to leverage the sediment and land-building power of the river on an even greater scale in future versions of the Master Plan.

“Since the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, our state has made significant progress in rebuilding barrier islands, creating hundreds of acres of marsh and strengthening levees. We need to do more – and quickly – to protect these investments, the billions of dollars in infrastructure and millions of people who live and work along our coast.

“Our organizations look forward to engaging with CPRA, the state legislature and people across the state in the months ahead to ensure the best plan is adopted for Louisiana’s people, wildlife and jobs.”

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