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Over the past 75 years, more than one million acres of the Louisiana coastal plain have submerged and/or eroded into the Gulf of Mexico. Another third of a million acres could be lost by 2050. This wetlands loss results from human intervention and natural processes, including: 1) efforts to maintain commercial navigation channels; 2) to provide flood and storm damage reduction to communities in the Louisiana coastal plain; 3) oil and gas development, including thousands of miles of canals for exploration and production; and 3) natural subsidence and erosion of the lands where the Mississippi delta meets the Gulf of Mexico. The affected area supports a complex coastal wetlands and barrier island ecosystem, an environmental resource of national significance. Further measures are needed to help protect and restore this ecosystem. The Corps is currently working with the State of Louisiana to address the State's coastal problems.

In 2004, the Corps will work to issue a draft report that identifies the most critical ecological needs and proposes a near-term program of highly cost-effective projects to address them. The report will also highlight the key long-term scientific uncertainties and engineering challenges facing the effort to protect and restore the ecosystem, and propose demonstration projects and studies to help answer these questions. The report will focus on the specific coastal areas that require the most immediate attention and on the best way to sequence the proposed work over the next 10 or so years, as we learn what works best.

In 2004, the Corps will begin developing studies of potentially promising, long-term ecosystem restoration concepts, with the objective of determining whether they would provide a cost-effective way to create coastal wetlands.

An existing Federal-State Task Force established under 1990 legislation will increase its efforts to build and evaluate highly cost-effective fresh-water and sediment diversion projects.

This coordinated approach to restoration combines a commitment to address the highest priority needs with a search for innovative solutions. It also ensures that the coastal Louisiana restoration effort will, in the long-term, be able to adapt and evolve as needed, based on the best available science.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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