Conservation groups say urgent action still needed to slow down continued land loss, build new land
NEW ORLEANS – Today, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released updated maps depicting net land loss and land gain in Louisiana since 1932. These maps show that the rate of land loss has slowed in recent years, largely due to decreased hurricane activity and the advancement of coastal restoration projects, such as the Lake Hermitage and Bayou Dupont wetland construction programs. While the previous USGS assessment showed Louisiana was losing an average of one football field of land every hour, the new maps show that, from 2010-2016, the state now is losing an average of one football field every 100 minutes. Since 1932, Louisiana has lost more than 2,000 square miles of land – nearly the size of the state of Delaware.
National and local conservation organizations committed to coastal Louisiana restoration – Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – issued the following statement in response:
“The state has made great progress in starting to restore Louisiana’s coastal areas, and thankfully our region has seen decreased hurricane activity in recent years, which has resulted in a decreased land loss rate. But sea level rise and future hurricane activity will only intensify and likely lead to increases in these rates into the future. While we celebrate the small victories, we cannot become complacent in our efforts to put more land on the map quickly.
“At the end of the day, even with a slower rate of land loss, Louisiana is still losing land more quickly than anywhere else in the U.S., and we cannot replace all the land that has already been lost. Our coastline is still encountering enormous challenges, including increased sea level rise, subsidence, saltwater intrusion and a 2017 hurricane season that’s predicted to be more active than average – all of which have dire consequences for coastal wetlands over time.
“The time to act is now. Our state will only be spared the worst-case scenario if we act quickly to advance large-scale restoration projects contained in the recently approved 2017 Coastal Master Plan, including critical sediment diversion projects."
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