The Hurricane Season of 2005 has shown how vulnerable Gulf coastal communities are to the devastating impacts of ever-stronger storms. We have seen how the continued destruction of our natural barriers, such as coastal wetlands and barrier islands, takes away nature‚Äôs ability to reduce the strength and impact of hurricanes.
Our barrier islands, coastal wetlands and marshes must be protected and enhanced.
As impacted areas rebuild, decision-makers and planners must protect and enhance the natural barriers that help protect our communities. It is estimated that for every 3-4 miles of healthy coastal wetlands a storm surge must travel over, the surge is diminished by one foot. Coastal cypress swamps are thought to be even more effective in minimizing storm surge. Additionally, levees fronted by wetlands and coastal forests are thought to have held up far better than those fronted by open-water.
What We Are Doing
GRN is advocating for a federal commitment to Louisiana's coastal wetlands crisis, and seeking to implement the lessons of Louisiana around the Gulf.
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MRGO Must Go
After 50 years of destroying critical coastal wetlands and threatening communities of Southeast Louisiana, the writing is finally on the wall for the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. Due to the efforts of the ‚ÄúMr. Go Must Go‚ÄĚ Coalition, including the GRN, Louisiana‚Äôs senators spearheaded an amendment to force the Corps to de-authorize the MRGO to deep-draft vessels and to develop a plan for the future of the MRGO, including plans to restore the coastal wetlands and marshes destroyed by the channel.
We have worked in partnership with the MRGOMustGo Coalition to closing the Hurricane Highway, and watchdogging the restoration of the 20,000 acres of natural storm defenses the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet destroyed. Read More on the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet
The Army Corps of Engineers is the single federal agency with the biggest impact on rivers around the country, as it builds projects in every major watershed in the U.S. As we saw a year ago with the devastation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, poorly constructed Corps projects can have huge impacts on our communities, endangering lives and property as well as damaging our rivers and wildlife. Additionally, many Corps navigation and flood control projects destroyed coastal wetlands that could have reduced hurricane storm surge. Read More on Corps Reform
Why You Should Care About Louisiana's Coastal Wetlands
Do you like a morning cup of coffee? Supplying three trillion dollars annually to the U.S. economy, the coast is a gateway for products like coffee, grain, seafood, and oil and gas.
Do you eat wild & fresh Louisiana shrimp, oyster, or crabs? The coast is the cradle of nearly 1/3 of the total commercial fish and shellfish harvest of the lower 48 states.
Are you a duck hunter, or a coastal fisherman? A major flyway for migratory birds, the coast is used by up to 40% of North America's duck, geese, swan and eagle populations.
Do you drive? Home to the nation's most important petrochemical complex, the coast produces or transports 30% of the nation's domestic crude oil and 34% of its natural gas, while refining 16% of our petroleum.
Do you want to make sure Katrina never happens again? Louisiana's natural storm defenses, such as barrier islands, marshes and cypress swamps can protect Louisiana's coastal communities. Every 3-4 miles of wetlands that a storm surge travels over reduces it by one foot. Levees need wetlands to survive hurricane-level storms.
Can Coastal Defenses Be Rebuilt?
River Reintroductions Strategic changes to the levee system will allow sediment and fresh water flow into the wetlands. Technology is also available to pump sediment from the Mississippi River directly to the marshes that need it.
Close Man-Made Channels Certain navigation channels that threaten wetlands and communities, such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) need to be closed. Oil and gas corporations must stop their wetlands destruction and clean up after themselves by filling in their 8,000 mile-long network of canals and leveling the spoil banks which line them.
Oil and Gas Accountability Oil and gas corporations are responsible for 40-60% of Louisiana's wetlands loss. It is time they fund a similar share of the estimated $100 billion cost of securing our coast and communities.
Create a New Energy Future Unless the nation acts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, Louisiana's wetlands will be lost. Be moving to a new energy future, the worst-case scenerios for sea-level rise and stronger hurricanes can be avoided and our communities can be secured.
To implement these solutions will take leadership and political will.Coastal experts estimate that we have less than 10 years to begin rebuilding our coastal lines of defense, or it will be too late.
What You Can Do To Secure The Gulf Coast
Join the Gulf Restoration Network today. The GRN is a New Orleans-based network of groups and individuals dedicated to protecting and restoring the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Your generous, tax deductible donation will allow the GRN to fight for the coast everyday. A monthly, sustaining membership is the lowest cost, most efficient way to support us.
If We Invest Now In Our Natural Storm Defenses We Can Help Secure The Future Of Louisiana's Coast And The Millions Of Americans Who Depend On It.