White House Council on Environmental Quality announces progress on adaptation task force
Environmental Defense Fund
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently released its Climate Change Adaptation Task Force interim report, a six-month progress report that includes a national strategy on climate change adaptation.
Last October, President Obama tasked this task force with developing federal recommendations for adapting to climate change impacts including sea-level rise, hurricanes and floods—both domestically and internationally—within a year. The group is utilizing input and expertise from more than 20 federal agencies, departments and offices through a series of workgroups.
Soon the task force will hold local and regional education and outreach panels on resilience and adaptation to explain their work and gather input from stakeholders on the ground. Dates and locations for these panels are not set yet, but a natural place for the task force to start is Louisiana. Federal, state and local governments already are working together on the front lines of adaptation and resilience as a result of coastal Louisiana’s alarming rates of land loss.
The interim report is available online for comments through May 16, 2010.
Louisiana preserve may be expanded
National Wildlife Federation
Environmental Defense Fund
In the ecosystem restoration world, it is widely known that saving Florida's Everglades National Park was a major reason why the federal government got involved in restoring the greater Everglades ecosystem. What many don't know is that coastal Louisiana's wetlands also include a 20,000-acre National Park, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Barataria Preserve
, whose long-term health depends on coastal restoration. The park is a jewel, and anyone visiting New Orleans should also visit the preserve to see what the New Orleans landscape looked like hundreds of years ago and how the nation's management of the Mississippi River is affecting this magnificent ecosystem.
In an effort to expand the park, the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program Management Conference recently passed a resolution urging Congress to purchase the Fleming Plantation, a 4,000-acre 19th century sugar plantation that lies within the preserve. The land includes bayous, bottomland hardwood forests and marsh, including historic buildings, a cemetery and a prehistoric Indian mound. It is now available for acquisition by the National Park Service for $2 million dollars. Congress now has an opportunity within the appropriations process to allocate $2 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to add the Fleming Plantation to the park and preserve.
If Congress funds this expansion, the National Parks Service—and its parent agency the Department of Interior—will have a larger interest in restoring coastal Louisiana.
Read the Management Conference resolution.
Audubon’s “Pennies for the Planet” hooks kids on wetlands restoration
Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are receiving help from concerned young environmentalists across the country through the National Audubon Society’s Pennies for the Planet, an education and action campaign run by the National Audubon Society. Pennies for the Planet helps kids in grades 3-6 learn about and become directly engaged in protecting biodiversity.
One hundred percent of the proceeds raised during this year’s Pennies for the Planet campaign will go towards three initiatives, one of which is supporting marsh restoration in Louisiana.
“We need today’s communities to help nurture tomorrow’s environmental leaders, so it is vital that we help connect young people and families with the environment and provide ideas about how they can help protect it,” said Audubon President Frank Gill. “Pennies for the Planet links environmental education with environmental action, giving people everywhere the chance to discover what it means to give back and to care for wild places in need of conservation attention.”
Pennies for the Planet is made possible by support from TogetherGreen, an Audubon initiative—in alliance with Toyota—created to promote conservation action and support current and future environmental leaders. Last year, Pennies for the Planet helped thousands of young people nationwide raise more than $26,000 to support species and habitat conservation and reduce the threat from global warming.
Materials including a full-color poster and educator’s guide, a newsletter for kids, and a participation form with incentives and awards are available for download from www.penniesfortheplanet.org for classroom or at-home use.
Download a Pennies for the Planet kit today to get started with your students, club members, children or grandkids.
State awards six grants to projects through Conservation and Restoration Partnership Fund
The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has awarded six grants totaling $3.39 million in budget surplus funds from 2009 to non-governmental conservation organizations and private landowners through its Fiscal Year 2010 Conservation and Restoration Partnership Fund to help construct ecosystem restoration projects across coastal Louisiana. The Conservation and Restoration Partnership Fund is designed to maximize conservation and restoration efforts by leveraging non-state dollars for well-designed coastal restoration projects in areas of need.
The grants help fund six projects totaling $6.5 million for conservation and restoration efforts. The awarding criteria was based on consistency with the state's coastal master plan, the estimated acreage conserved and restored, synergism with other projects, constructability and the amount of matching funds.
Ducks Unlimited received the largest award for the Calcasieu-Sabine Watershed Restoration project with the fund providing $1.78 million and Ducks Unlimited providing an additional $1.2 million. This project in Cameron Parish will restore the historic flow of First Bayou and will create 105,000 linear feet of earthen terraces in the formerly vegetated Gum Cove area.
Other projects awarded funds include: Westwego Wetland Harbor Activities Recreational Facility, Christian Mash Terraces, 10,000 Trees for Louisiana, Terrebonne Vegetative Plantings, and the North Lake Mechant Landbridge Completion.
For more information about Louisiana's coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts, please contact Miki Teer at (225) 342-7307 or by e-mail at email@example.com
New Oxfam maps show Louisiana social and hazard vulnerability
Tierra Resources LLC
Oxfam America recently launched a new report titled “Exposed—Social Vulnerability and Climate Change in the U.S. Southeast,” which highlights the intersection between social vulnerability and hazards related to climate change across 13 states in the U.S. Southeast, including Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast. This information can guide policymakers, emergency management officials, and community leaders to develop adaptation strategies to identify and prioritize assistance to those communities least able to cope when a disaster strikes.
This research was commissioned by Oxfam America and includes a series of layered maps that assist in identifying hotspots in the U.S. Southeast that have high levels of social vulnerability and are at significant risk to climate change-related hazards.
Many parts of Louisiana rank high compared to the rest of the Gulf Coast on sea-level rise, flooding, hurricane force winds and social vulnerability.
The Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina defines social vulnerability through a tool they developed named the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI). SoVI statistically examines the underlying social and demographic characteristics of the population and how they negatively impact certain segments with regard to climate change-related hazards. SoVI provides a scientific basis for understanding the vulnerability of populations and validates that these communities will suffer disproportionately from climate change-related hazards and disasters.
More information on this research report and Oxfam’s efforts can be found on their website.
Bonnet Carre Spillway an opportunity for inexpensive restoration
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
Just a few miles upriver from New Orleans, the Bonnet Carre Spillway has been an engineering marvel since its construction shortly after the disastrous 1927 Mississippi River flood. In response to the flood, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) constructed the spillway as an emergency flood outlet to relieve high water on the river and protect New Orleans.
The spillway’s design is simple. Timbers located on top of the structure are removed and river water flows over the structure and through the spillway bound by two guide levees. The water flows into Lake Pontchartrain, rather than wetlands. Since Lake Pontchartrain is actually a bay connected to the Gulf of Mexico, the river water then moves through the “lake” and to the gulf. The spillway is operated when the river rises and threatens the river levees, on average once every seven years.
Why is it important?
The spillway design creates a cost-effective opportunity to redirect river water from the lake and into nearby wetlands. These wetlands are degraded and suffer from occasional high salinity. Fresh water from the river would restore fresh marsh and cypress swamps. Modifying the guide levees is relatively inexpensive, since the guide levees are all that separate the water from the wetlands.
What can we do?
This opportunity to redirect river water from the lake and into nearby wetlands could demonstrate that existing river structures can be used for the benefit of the coast, even when designed for other purposes. It is a smart way to stretch restoration dollars.
Currently, many structures’ legal authorizations would hinder them being used for alternative purposes, such as restoration. Given this fact, the Corps will need to learn to “think outside the box” to beneficially use structures such as the spillway. This is too good of an opportunity to overlook.
New water provisioning system in Central Wetlands Unit could generate nearly 175 Louisiana jobs
Environmental Defense Fund
Restoration and Resilience recently took another look at the Central Wetlands Unit (CWU) to see how many jobs could be generated by constructing a water provisioning system in the basin. Water management through an upgraded provisioning system is critical to the long-term success of the CWU restoration project because cypress trees and other wetland plants thrive within certain ranges of salinity and seasonal inundation. In addition, it is important from both a public health and ecosystem management perspective to ensure compliance with state and federal standards regarding tertiary treatment of water running into the basin.
Based on design proposals from a local engineering firm for a water provisioning system, we estimated at that an $11 million project could create nearly 175 jobs in design, construction and manufacturing in Louisiana.
We arrived at this calculation by looking at some of the important inputs for a project of this scale, and estimated the associated costs for the tools and heavy machinery that would be required for pipe installation throughout the CWU. Based on this data, we estimated that 67 workers could be directly involved in a year-long project to design and construct wastewater piping systems in the Central Wetlands. Using state-level multipliers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, we estimated that an additional 107 workers could be involved in work at factories and local businesses providing tubes, valves, and other inputs for the project.
Earlier in the series on CWU, we explored the direct, indirect and induced job creation from dredging and site preparation in the basin, estimating that a $3.71 million project could create more than 100 jobs in Louisiana.
Job creation is just one of the many economic benefits of a concerted program to restore the wetlands of coastal Louisiana.
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