For Immediate Release: April 12, 2007
Contact: Chris Macaluso
Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Approves State Coastal Master Plan
Corps of Engineers Officials to use State Plan as Basis for Federal Coastal Plan
BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority voted unanimously to approve both the state master plan for comprehensive coastal restoration and hurricane protection and the Fiscal Year 2008 Annual Plan at its meeting Thursday.
The plans are the result of more than 18 months of work by the CPRA's Integrated Planning Team charged with writing the first plan in Louisiana's history designed to fully integrate the protection of coastal assets and infrastructure with the restoration of the state's rapidly eroding coastal wetlands.
With the CPRA's approval, the plan will now be presented to the state legislature at the start of the upcoming legislative session scheduled to begin April 30. The legislature can either approve or disapprove of the plan but cannot amend it in any way.
Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who have been charged by Congress to write a similar plan entitled the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan (LaCPR), said Thursday they will use the state master plan as the basis for the Corps' plan and will work in collaboration with the state to ensure the aim of both plans is the same.
"LaCPR will use the state master plan as a spring board and the writing and implementation of both will be a collaborative effort," said Karen Durham-Aguilera Project Director for the Corps' Task Force Hope.
Aguilera said a draft of the technical report of the LaCPR should be complete by the end of the summer of 2007 and will be followed by a public comment period. The Corps is on schedule to meet the Congressionally-mandated deadline of December 2007 to have a draft of the report complete for Congressional review. A final report similar to the state plan will be complete by July 2008.
"I don't think it can be overemphasized that the Corps using the state master plan as a springboard for the writing of the LaCPR is extremely significant," Sidney Coffee, Chairwoman of the CPRA said.
Other authority members expressed relief and appreciation that the Corps has made a commitment to work closely with state planners and use the state master plan as the cornerstone for the federal efforts to rebuild and restore coastal Louisiana.
"We really needed to ramp up our efforts to work hand in hand and this effort, this coming together, represents an unbelievable amount of initiative on the part of the Corps and the state," said King Milling, CPRA member and chair of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Coastal Restoration and Conservation. "Working together with the Corps should provide the motivation to rebuild our coast in a timely manner. Going ahead with two different plans would have meant certain death for these efforts."
The CPRA also voted to authorize its steering committee to review and approve the state's final Coastal Impact Assistance Plan (CIAP) provided there are no substantive differences between the state-funded CIAP projects and those presented in the state master plan. The CIAP program is federally funded and will provide more than $500 million to Louisiana over the next four years to pay for coastal restoration projects. CIAP projects have been integrated into the state master plan and will be some of the first contained in the master plan to be designed and built.
The CPRA also voted to adopt the recommendations of the State Coastal Wetland Forestry Conservation and Use Advisory Panel. Included in those recommendations are the creation of a dedicated state revenue stream for the purpose of coastal wetland forests and the requirement of government entities to use a portion of coastal restoration funds for coastal wetland forest conservation, restoration and acquisition. Coastal wetland forests are considered a vital part of a system of natural hurricane barriers but have been in decline in Louisiana for more than a century.
For more information, please contact Chris Macaluso in the Louisiana Governor's Office of Coastal Activities at (225) 342-3968 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.