By Paul Kemp (National Audubon Society) and John Day (Louisiana State University)
Special to CNN
(CNN) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway for the 10th time since 1932. This 7,000-foot structure of gates on the east bank of the Mississippi River, 30 miles above New Orleans, relieves pressure on levees protecting the city by shunting river water into nearby Lake Pontchartrain.
As the crest of the historic 2011 flood rolls downriver from Memphis toward an arrival in Louisiana in two weeks, carrying up to 2 million cubic feet of water per second, we who wait at the bottom of the Mississippi's vast watershed are painfully aware of our dependence on an 80-year-old flood protection system that's functioning on borrowed time.
Consider the plight of Morgan City, Louisiana, on the Atchafalaya River near the Gulf of Mexico. If, as now seems likely, the Bonnet Carré Spillway cannot divert enough water to save New Orleans, the Corps will open another outlet…
Continue reading this story on CNN.com: http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/05/10/kemp.mississippi.river/index.html
On April 21, BP agreed
to provide $1 billion toward early restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico under an unprecedented agreement announced today by the Natural Resource Trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) down payment is a significant first step toward restoration in the Gulf. The Gulf Renewal Project – a coalition of environmental, economic and community groups – released the following statement:
“This is a good day for the Gulf and a welcome first step on the long road to recovery and restoration for the region’s environment and economy,” said the joint statement by the Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Ocean Conservancy, Oxfam America and The Nature Conservancy. “The BP oil disaster was unprecedented and BP’s down payment toward Gulf restoration today is also unprecedented. Restoration of these threatened resources simply cannot wait. Combined with other potential sources of funding, the NRDA funds announced today provide the opportunity to build a strong foundation for lasting, meaningful restoration of the Gulf Coast.”
The Trustees involved are: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Department of Justice provided assistance in reaching the agreement.
By Derek Brockbank, Environmental Defense Fund/National Audubon Society/National Wildlife Federation
On Friday May 6, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force held a public meeting in Mobile, Al. President Obama assigned the task force to come up with a strategy for restoring the Gulf to make it better than it was to before the BP oil spill. It was the third public meeting in the Gulf for the task force, which previously had been held in Pensacola, Fl. and New Orleans, La. (two upcoming meetings will be in Texas and Mississippi).
EPA administrator and Task Force Chair Lisa Jackson presided over the meeting and listened to a panel presentation on the four newly-announced areas that the task force will cover in their forthcoming strategy document. These areas include Community Resilience, Habitat Restoration, Ocean and Marine Conservation and Water Quality. She also announced the creation of a citizens advisory council to participate in the formation of the restoration strategy. Many local and national conservation groups had been asking for such an advisory council to ensure that local public input could not be ignored...
Continue reading this story here.
By Ben Weber, National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation’s longstanding volunteer program is working actively with agencies engaged in restoration of important wildlife habitat areas around coastal Louisiana. For the one year anniversary of the BP oil disaster, NWF has launched a partnership with local organizations to host several restoration projects throughout coastal Louisiana.
One of these projects is a marsh replanting in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. Partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge System, NWF is engaging volunteers to replant native grasses in the refuge. Over 23,000 plugs of marsh grass will be planted, reconnecting fragmented areas of marsh which have begun converting to open water. The restoration project
will improve both wildlife habitat and water quality in this important nature area. During phase one of the project (April 15-16), 11,500 plugs of marsh grass were put in the ground. The remaining 11,500 plants will be planted during phase two (May 27-28).
Continue reading this story and watch the video here.
Derek is the campaign director for National Wildlife Federation (NWF), National Audubon Society and Environmental Defense Fund's joint Coastal Louisiana Restoration project. He is responsible for the federal, state, grassroots and media components of this campaign, working with and directing staff of three national organizations and other local partners to secure and fund a comprehensive restoration plan for coastal Louisiana.
Prior to his current role, Derek was the climate safeguards manager at NWF, running their campaign to protect natural resources and wildlife through global warming legislation. Previously, he was the grassroots outreach manager as well as part-time field director for the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund. Derek has also acted as national director of the Sierra Student Coalition and was a member of the Green Corps class of 2004. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago.
Continue reading this story here.