Coastal Restoration in Louisiana
Reasons to Restore the Coast in Louisiana
The Louisiana coastline is one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world. The recent influx of rapid change on the coast means more land is being lost every day. The coastline of Louisiana acts as a buffer against natural disasters and without restoration, a larger portion of land and homes will be left vulnerable and exposed to nature’s unpredictable behavior. Causes of coastal erosion include oil drilling and canal dredging, natural disasters, increasing local sinking, increasing salt-water penetration, and global sea level rise. also contribute to the erosion of the Louisiana coast. Mitigating the damage that human intervention and drilling has caused over the past few decades is the top priority of coastal restoration in Louisiana.
National Life Support
Louisiana is the largest fish producer in North America. More than 1 billion pounds of fish are caught every year. Recreational value of the coast is over 1 billion dollars. Louisiana coastline is home to 5 million waterfowl and 70 threatened or endangered species. The coastline is much more than just a piece of land eroding. The coast has a direct impact on so many aspects of life, reaching way beyond the boundaries of the Louisiana state lines. It is a home for wildlife, national source of food, travel, jobs, tourism, and much more.
2012 Coastal Master Plan
The 2012 Coastal Master Plan was passed unanimously by the Senate the same year it was introduced. The master plan used scientific analysis and smaller-scale test projects to conclude its complete phasing process for coastal restoration in Louisiana. Includes several different types of projects. Hydrologic restoration, sediment diversion, marsh creation, barrier island restoration, shoreline protection, ridge restoration, oyster barrier reefs, bank stabilization, and structural protection.
Coastal Land Building
Rebuilding the coastline will support local wildlife like saltwater fish species, freshwater fish species, crawfish, alligator, oysters, muskrat, spoonbill, and other wildlife that directly or indirectly relies on the coastal vegetation and environment to survive.
Hydrologic restorations will help to reverse the changes that oil drilling, building levees, new construction, and dredging canals have caused. Interfering with the natural path and tides of the coastal waters has caused ecosystem disruption that needs to be addressed before the situation becomes unrepairable.
Reconnecting the river to its former estuaries using a sediment diversion and channel realignment method is another piece of coastal restoration. This process involved diversion channels for sediment to be built, allowing for basins to receive the sediment caught by the channels. With current sediment diversion processes, the greater the sand load is, the shorter the transporting distance has to be.
Oyster barrier reefs have been one of the most affected pieces of the coast. Oyster larvae attach themselves to hard surfaces, usually other oysters. Without plentiful oyster reefs, oysters are no longer able to sustain their aquatic population. Oyster barrier reefs have proven to be a less disruptive solution of coastal restoration than concrete or steel bulkheads. The natural filtrations oysters contribute to controlling algae populations, which helps fish survive. Financially speaking, a higher oyster population means economic growth in the Louisiana fishing market.
Rebuilding Louisiana’s Coastline
Coastal restoration in Louisiana is being implemented in many different forms, as explained above. Restoration is important in order to reverse and slow the Louisiana land loss that increases every minute of every day. Combined restoration efforts will promote a better economy, home and land protection, and improve wildlife conditions and populations. Strategic restoration using multiple methods is the optimal choice for total restoration, since recreation by using dredged materials cannot be done effectively for large areas of land.