Columnist Bob Marshall educates sportsmen on coastal Louisiana wetlands loss
Emily Guidry Schatzel
National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation (NWF) recently hosted Bob Marshall, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the [New Orleans] Times-Picayune, at a luncheon during the 75th annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference.
Marshall addressed 200 conference attendees on the drastic loss of coastal Louisiana wetlands and its effect on the nation’s environment and economy, but focused on the impact that such losses will have on sportsmen and women across the country.
“This is not your typical habitat story,” Marshall said. “It's not about a forest being cut or wetland being drained or a lake being polluted. It's not about a change in energy policy that will put oil and gas rigs temporarily in the middle of wildlife corridors.”
“All of those are bad, and worth addressing,” he continued. “But in most cases, the habitat being impacted can be repaired. What's happening in south Louisiana is much, much worse.”
Marshall reminded his audience—comprised mainly of sportsmen from several different states—that what happens to southeast Louisiana will have a large impact on a significant percentage of fish and wildlife in North America, but also on people across the continent.
NWF’s Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator Andy McDaniels said Marshall’s speech introduced many conference attendees to the problems the vanishing Louisiana coastline is facing.
“Bob’s speech was a game-changer at the largest sportsmen’s conference in the nation,” McDaniels said. “After his address, people were asking us about the issue and about how they could get involved. Bob helped us reach a key group of sportsmen by impressing upon them the direness of the problem in coastal Louisiana.”
For more information on NWF's sportsmen outreach program, which is a collaborative effort with Ducks Unlimited, visit www.vanishingparadise.org.
Terracing project will restore Vermilion Parish acres
David J. Ringer
National Audubon Society
A new marsh restoration initiative–the Christian Marsh Terraces Project–in Vermilion Parish will install more than 20,000 linear feet—nearly four miles—of earthen terraces to restore and protect more than 300 acres of degraded marsh. Earthen terraces planted with wetland vegetation will slow down water movement, allowing sediment to accumulate and marsh plants to recolonize the area. The project is an effort of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) and the National Audubon Society in partnership with other Louisiana landowners. It is a prime example of public-private collaboration to achieve on-the-ground restoration results.
In March, the state of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority awarded the project more than $450,000 through the Conservation and Restoration Partnership Fund. This award will combine with an in-kind match of nearly $150,000 from private partners and $150,000 from the National Audubon Society and CRCL is pursuing additional grant opportunities totaling $245,000.
The Christian Marsh project will restore an area that was formerly emergent marsh (i.e., shallow-water wetland), but is now shallow open water because of hurricane damage and other influences. Construction is slated for completion by the end of 2011. Restoration and stabilization of Christian Marsh will complement the results of several other restoration projects in the immediate area.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line
National Wildlife Federation
This old adage held true at a recent public meeting in Thibodaux, La. to discuss the proposed construction of a north-south road linking the Houma-Thibodaux area—specifically the intersection of La. Highway 308 and Canal Street in Thibodaux—up to La. 3127 and Interstate 10 (I-10), to improve commerce and provide a more effective evacuation route. The purpose of the recent meeting was to present the area study map, which recently was enlarged to include a second proposed route.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) currently is considering two routes. Both of these routes already exist in their entirety, but sections of them would need to be widened, enlarged or improved.
Click maps to enlarge
|Proposed Route 1
||Proposed Route 2
Plans for this first route began in 2004, but they were revised because of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' concern about impacted wetlands. Building such a road in any location is a concern for wetlands for a variety of reasons. For example, the road could interfere with hydrological (water) flows, it would threaten wildlife that would cross it and the construction process would cause wetland damage.
Additionally, a small group of meeting attendees proposed a new route that would run due north through an existing eight mile stretch of wetlands with an elevated road. Before this option can become official, DOTD must determine that is a viable option. Then, an Environmental Impact Study would need to be conducted on the route, just as was required to be done for the two routes currently being proposed.
The next step for this project is a series of public hearings in late May or early June for the options to be described and to collect public comments on the project. To learn more visit http://HT3127EIS.com.
Urban “jobs surge” could boost storm surge protection for coastal cities
Environmental Defense Fund
Will young people in cities across the United States snap up jobs in America’s swamps this summer? It’s an idea we recently floated in a post on Restoration and Resilience. Teenage unemployment rates are more than double the national average, and the level of youth joblessness is projected to go higher this summer as high school and college students look for temporary positions in a tough labor market.
Click graph to enlarge
Based on proposals for expanded summer jobs initiatives by organizations such as the National Urban League, we laid out the case for why more young people should be involved in conservation work. They would be especially useful to help conserve vulnerable wetlands near major coastal centers like New Orleans and New York. These projects would regenerate natural buffers against storm surges, while also providing outstanding opportunities for thousands of young people to learn about the environmental treasures within walking distance of their homes.
Read the full post on Restoration and Resilience.