Opening Your Door to a Healthy Coast

For immediate release: 
July 6, 2009
Contact: 
Raleigh Hoke
(573) 795-1916

For Immediate Release

Contact: Raleigh Hoke, 573-795-1916, raleigh@healthygulf.org

July 6, 2009

Opening Your Door to a Healthy Coast

Group conducts widespread door-to-door campaign to promote restoration of Louisiana’s wetlands

New Orleans, LA- Since Hurricane Katrina devastated many communities across the Gulf of Mexico, wetlands restoration has been widely recognized by the public as an important component to the survival of Louisiana. As hurricane season begins, employees from Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), a non-profit organization focused on the health of the Gulf of Mexico, are going door to door throughout New Orleans and surrounding areas to raise awareness about wetland loss, to promote the “Defend Our Wetlands, Defend Ourselves” campaign and to recruit new GRN members.

"In the wake of the hurricane seasons of 2005 and 2008 people understand our coastal wetlands crisis is about more than fish or wildlife, it is about the future of our communities. GRN is working to turn that understanding into action," says Abbie Dufrene, a Field Manager for GRN this summer.

This year, Gulf Restoration Network, a 501c3 non-profit organization, is celebrating 15 years of uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico, and a sustainable Louisiana coast is crucial to a healthy Gulf.

In 2005, GRN and conservation partners launched the “Flood Washington, Not Our Coast” campaign that inundated key members of Congress and the President with over 40,000 email comments calling for coastal restoration in the aftermath of Katrina. Congress recognized the importance of wetlands restoration and directed the Army Corps of Engineers to present a Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan by December 2007. However, The Army Corps is already two years late in delivering what is now commonly known as the "Category 5" Plan. Early drafts of the final report, scheduled to be presented to Congress in August 2009, indicate it will be 8,000 pages filled with a complicated suite of options that does not resemble a plan.

The Louisiana Coastal Lines of Defense Strategy, promoted by GRN and others, provides comprehensive hurricane protection through restored barrier islands, cypress swamps, and wetlands as well as levees, elevated homes, and evacuation routes.

“It's going to take a massive movement of concerned citizens to continue calling on state and federal governments to prioritize coastal restoration, while simultaneously pressuring oil and gas companies, like Shell, to pay their fair share,” says Raleigh Hoke, GRN’s Louisiana Canvass Director.

Scientists have shown oil and gas companies are responsible for 40% to 60% of Louisiana’s coastal land loss, yet the industry has yet to be held accountable for its impacts.

Small steps to restoring Louisiana’s wetlands have taken place. Rocks were finally dropped to begin the closure of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MR-GO) which destroyed about27,500 acres of wetlands since the 1960’s. GRN continues to push for the full closure of the MR-GO and expects to gain public support by having one-on-one conversations with locals who are vulnerable to impacts of wetland loss, creating a domino effect throughout the political system.
“We already know that we are losing about a football field of wetlands every 45 minutes. Our organization is demanding that the Army Corps deliver a concrete plan and prompt action to restore Louisiana's coastal lines of defense, including the restoration of the wetlands destroyed by MR-GO,” Hoke continued.

Canvassers will be asking people to join in the fight for the coast by signing up as a Gulf Sustainer and giving a tax-deductible monetary contribution. This summer, if you get an unexpected visitor, don’t be alarmed. It just may be your door of opportunity to help restore the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information, visit www.healthygulf.org.

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