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“No Net Loss of Wetlands” Wetlands as Infrastructure

Bayou Carencro, Terrebonne Basin

Fresh Marshes, Bayou Carencro, Terrebonne Basin

It has been almost twenty years since President George H.W. Bush pledged “No net loss of wetlands.”

This year Louisiana will have, for the first time in a very long time, “no net loss of wetlands.” Louisiana has a surplus and much of it is going into wetland restoration, 4,000 acres restored in 2009.

Bayou Rigolettes, Barataria Landbridge Project

Bayou Rigolettes, Barataria Landbridge Project

This year folks working on restoring the Barataria Landbridge, deposited 1,800 acres of soil behind a concrete wall designed to keep the new soil from eroding. The marshes in the landbridge lies between Barataria Bay and the cypress forests that protect populated areas to the north. Think New Orleans. They are a major speed bump that hurricanes have to cross. A year ago they took the punch out of Gustav before it hit Houma. That is wetlands as infrastructure.

Pelicans on the Bayou Rigolettes Concrete Wall

Pelicans on the Bayou Rigolettes Concrete Wall

Kerry St. Pe of the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Program acknowledged that the state broken even on wetland loss, but noted that so much is gone that, possibly, the rate of loss in declining.

Still, Louisiana may have gained 4,000 acres of wetlands, but it also lost 4,000 acres of wetlands or 6 square miles. Not enough to make up for the 230 square miles of wetlands lost to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

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