Oil Spill Threatens Louisiana's Fragile Wetlands

"These wetlands have been sacrificed...be it navigation, be it oil and gas exploration, be it fisheries."

05-11-2010 // Cheryl Corley - NPR

This excerpt is from an NPR story.

The oil spill is a tense day-by-day waiting game for environmentalists in Louisiana tracking how badly the state's wetlands and a small set of barrier islands, the first line of defense against hurricanes, are affected. Their continued erosion is considered just as catastrophic as the spill.

Breton Island is among the stretches of land in the Gulf that make up one of the country's oldest National Wildlife Refuges. Wildlife officials make frequent checks on the land that remains after Hurricane Katrina and other storms turned much of the area into open water.


Ben Webb (sic) of the National Wildlife Federation says it's much the same for the state's marshes.

Louisiana is home to about 40 percent of the nation's wetlands — and the bulk of coastal wetland loss occurs in the state.

"These wetlands have been sacrificed ... for the national good," Webb said, "be it navigation, be it oil and gas exploration, be it fisheries."

Every year during the past decade, Louisiana has lost about 24 square miles of wetlands — about the size of one football field every 38 minutes.

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