Coastal Protection

Thousands of miles of Louisiana's coastline have been disappearing over the last century. NPR's Lynn Neary talks to fishing guide Ryan Lambert about what's happening to his community.

 

The U.S. lost an average of 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands from 2004 to 2009, according to the latest data published by federal agencies. More than 70 percent of the estimated loss came in the Gulf of Mexico; nationwide, most of the loss was blamed on development that incurred on freshwater wetlands.

"The losses of these vital wetlands were 25 percent greater than during the previous six years," NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports for our Newscast unit. She also notes that the loss equals "about seven football fields every hour."

The idea that grass can armor anything is hard to believe.

But on a recent visit to the Lake Pontchartrain levee, LSU agronomist Jeff Beasley explained how plain old, garden variety grass has earned a reputation with the US Army Corps of Engineers as one of the best armoring materials to keep the huge mud walls of a levee from collapsing during a storm.

"You know how we reinforce concrete with rebar?" says Beasley. "We can do the same with these levees."

Anyone following the development of the Master Plan for the Louisiana coast knows that the central part of the plan is also its most controversial: large scale river diversions, opening the levees on the sides of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans to let the silt-carrying Mississippi out into these sinking deltas to begin rebuilding them.

One year ago Tuesday, Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, devastating shoreline communities from Florida to Maine.

Many of these areas have been rebuilt, including the Long Beach boardwalk, about 30 miles outside New York City. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new boardwalk Friday.

Ninety percent of the funding for the restoration came from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid $44 million to repair the devastation.

Taxpayers may be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars if the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East has to withdraw its lawsuit against oil and gas companies.

SLFPA-E met opposition from the legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee Wednesday, as the committee gathered information from the authority on the suit, also hearing opposing testimony from Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority head Garret Graves.

When Louisiana officials unveiled the $50-billion Master Plan for the Coast, a 50-year program that could prevent most of southeast Louisiana from sinking under the Gulf by the end of the century as predicted, they knew one of their most important priorities would be getting reliable, long-term funding through Congress.

John M. Barry, author of "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927" and member of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East, talks about his group's lawsuit brought against nearly 100 energy companies for damage done to the state's coast.

True crime author Tony Thompson on his latest book, "Outlaws", about renegade biker gangs.

 

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According to federal regulations, Louisiana’s nine-day recreational red snapper fishing season legally starts next weekend. But some fishermen have been landing snapper since the state season started in March — at the risk of also landing a ticket from federal authorities.

The discrepancy between state and federal red snapper authorities is the subject of a bill sponsored by Sen. Bret Allain. Allain wants to put an all-out ban on red snapper, reasoning that if the fisheries are in such dire straits, maybe they shouldn’t be fished at all.

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