July 18, 2007
A Progress Update from the Louisiana Coastal Protection
and Restoration Authority
Coastal Restoration a Big Winner after Legislative Session
The 2007 Louisiana Legislative Session proved to be an unprecedented success for restoration and hurricane protection efforts along Louisiana's increasingly vulnerable coast.
First and foremost, lawmakers unanimously approved the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's comprehensive master plan for coastal restoration and hurricane protection as well as the Fiscal Year 2008 Annual Plan by passing Senate Resolutions 11 and 12, both authored by Sen. Reggie Dupre' and Rep. Loulan Pitre.
Entitled, "Integrated Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection: Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast" the master plan represents the first ever comprehensive effort to both save and rebuild coastal wetlands and protect vital communities and infrastructure. The plan now serves as the state's vision for its efforts over the next three decades to save Louisiana's rapidly eroding coast.
The Fiscal Year 2008 Annual Plan identifies and prioritizes a host of hurricane protection projects and coastal restoration projects, including water and sediment diversions, shoreline stabilization and barrier island restoration projects upon which construction can begin immediately and throughout the next three years.
In addition to approving the plans, the Legislature also gave the thumbs up to two bills that will enable the CPRA to begin paying for restoration and protection projects. As part of the supplemental spending bill for 2006-2007 authored by Rep. John Alario of Wetswego, $200 million in budget surplus money was dedicated to coastal restoration and protection projects.
Sen. Dupre also authored Senate Bill 53 that passed unanimously, creating the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Financing Corporation. The corporation will be responsible for selling bonds based on the expected revenue from future oil and gas royalty payments. The bonds will allow the CPRA to fund projects over the next 10 years instead of having to wait until a steady revenue stream arrives from the federal government in 2017.
"The passage of all these important pieces of legislation has laid a solid foundation for Louisiana to begin implementing the plan to save our coast," Sidney Coffee, CPRA chairwoman, said. "For the legislature to unanimously pass our master plan and our annual plan, as well as the financing corporation bill, shows how critical this effort is to all our citizens and that this issue transcends any political differences that may exist."
Women of the Storm and CPRA Taking Coastal Restoration Fight Upriver
The CPRA joined forces with the Amercia's WETLAND Foundation and the Women of the Storm on Wednesday, July 11 in Memphis to help spread the word to those who live along the Mississippi River that Louisiana's coast is vital to the entire nation. As part of an ongoing upriver campaign that started in New Orleans on June 1, the group will travel throughout the Midwest and almost all the way to the Canada to explain the need to support wetland restoration. On the trip to Memphis, those championing Louisiana's cause held a press conference with local and state elected officials, representatives of Ducks Unlimited and the executive director of the Port of Memphis.
"We're setting the stage and making friends who will support us in our restoration efforts," said Anne Milling, founder of Women of the Storm. "Physically going to cities and towns up the Mississippi River and meeting with leaders gives us a chance to show them how important our coast is to the rest of the country."
Executives and members of Ducks Unlimited, which is headquartered in Memphis, have shown a keen interest in helping in the fight to save Louisiana's wetlands because as many as 10 million migrating ducks and geese use Louisiana's coast as a wintering ground or stopping point for food and rest as they migrate south each year.
Ducks Unlimited's foundation, The Wetlands America Trust, is administering a campaign that will hopefully raise $1.7 billion dollars in the next three years to use for projects that will save North America's endangered wetlands.
"This push all the way up to Minnesota, is extremely important to the efforts to save our coast," Coffee said. "We want the people who live upstream along the Mississippi River to understand that this great artery connects us all.
Visiting these upriver cities and sharing what happens on our coast and how it impacts everyone throughout the United States helps people understand that our coast is truly America's Wetland and garners support for saving it."
Stops to spread the word about the importance of saving Louisiana's coastal wetlands are also planned for Dubuque, Iowa and Chicago.
Please click here to read the editorial in the Memphis Commercial Appeal supporting the America's WETLAND campaign.
Coastal Master Plan Touted on Statewide Public Affairs Program
Saving Louisiana's rapidly eroding coastal wetlands and protecting its increasingly vulnerable communities and infrastructure was the topic discussed on the July 11 airing of "Focus on Louisiana," a public affairs program broadcast state-wide by Cox Communications and sponsored by CABL, the Council for a Better Louisiana.
CPRA Chair Sidney Coffee was joined by prominent UNO coastal ecologist Dr. Denise Reed, Stephen Smith of T.Baker Smith, one of the largest coastal engineering and surveying companies in the state as well as CABL President Barry Erwin and show host Rusty Jabour.
The panel used the half-hour program to discuss the challenges facing the rebuilding and restoration efforts along Louisiana's coast and how the state's newly-approved Comprehensive Master Plan aims to put the waters and sediments of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers back to work in building coastal wetlands. The panel also discussed the future of communities along the coast and what those communities can do to adapt to the changing environment.
The Master Plan received a whole-hearted endorsement from CABL and Erwin urged Louisianans to support the plan.
The show can be viewed and a listing of when it will air again on television is available on the Cox Communications website at: http://www.cox.com/batonrouge/community/programsched.asp
Please click here to read the editorial from the Baton Rouge Advocate supporting the efforts of those on the "Focus on Louisiana" panel.
For more information about the CPRA or questions about this newsletter, please email Office of Coastal Activites/CPRA Information Director Chris Macaluso at email@example.com.
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.