Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority proposes $725 million plan to help save our coasts

Photo provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 5:23pm

There's a big push to protect Louisiana's coastline and for good reason. Our state loses nearly 35 square miles of land every year, and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority wants to change that. So they've come up with a master plan, but as I found out acting on the plan isn't going to be easy.

In 50 years, Louisiana could see a major change in our coastline.

Karen Gautreaux has lived in Louisiana all her life. She works to help preserve our land, and she said seeing what her home state could turn into is disheartening.

"So it makes me feel very sad, not only that we're losing our past, but it's a real threat to generations in the future," Gautreaux said. "The community where he.. our ancestors come from many of them are not the same as they were then because of coastal land loss problems."

Jerome Zeringue is scared it could get worse. It's why as the chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, he's fighting for change.

"The unfortunate reality is that we have the potential to lose more than 700 square miles in addition to what we've lost already if things continue the way they are," Zeringue said.

So here's there plan...

"Within the plan, we have a significant portion, one-fifth of the plan is for non-structural methods in terms of protecting the communities themselves," Zeringue said.

That's why the organization wants the legislators to approve a $725 million plan this session focusing on continuing the projects currently dedicated to preserving our coasts and future projects.

"Of which $477 million represents construction projects, continuing engineering design, and planning to advance those projects in advance of the funding we anticipate," Zeringue explained.

Zeringue said this plan won't only help our environment, it could also create more jobs.

"There was a recent study down, but Restore America's estuary for every million dollars invested in saving coastal Louisiana that translates into about 30 jobs which is a double multiplier that exists for oil and gas and roads and bridges combined," Zeringue said.

But the organization can't do this alone. Zeringue said they need the community's help. He said awareness and education are key.

Zeringue says the money for this plan will come from extra funds the organization has set aside. So now it's just up to our legislators.

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