Aug 16, 2016

Restoration Leaders to Convene on 2017 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan

Two leadership roundtables, coastal summit address challenges, opportunities

Mississippi River, Louisiana, coastal plan, summit, leadership roundtables

The Louisiana Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority (CPRA) and America's WETLAND Foundation (AWF) announced they will host two leadership roundtables this fall and a culminating coastal summit in December to discuss Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan. The events will gather diverse coastal interests to address the challenges of and opportunities for continuing restoration through the plan.

The meetings will discuss issues that address:

  • How the plan will affect commercial, community and cultural interests;
  • The move toward altering an engineered levee system to allow greater sediment delivery from the Mississippi River;
  • Developing insurance programs for communities threatened with retreat from low lying areas;
  • The science used to prioritize projects in the plan;
  • Creative financing for restoration to encourage private sector investment;
  • Innovative approaches to cost; and
  • Time effective solutions.

"We stand at a critical juncture in our fight to save the coast," said King Milling, chair of AWF and the Governor's Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation. "Many years of diligent planning through several administrations are now resulting in solutions and immediate action. The 2017 Coastal Master Plan builds on two previous iterations and upon its completion, CPRA is poised to move to a larger scale of project implementation."

The two leadership roundtables are slated for Oct. 24 and 25 in Baton Rouge, La.. The results will inform the agenda for the December Coastal Solutions Summit, which is timed to coincide with release of the 2017 Master Plan and its consideration by the legislature in the first quarter of 2017.

Since its inception, the master planning process in Louisiana has focused on comprehensive solutions to restoring the coast. 

"We inherited the work of many and now bear the responsibility to act," said CPRA Board Chairman Johnny Bradberry. "We are staring at the beast of coastal land loss coming ever closer and we are ready to turn planning into projects that can make a difference."

In recent polls released by AWF, 74% of Louisiana voters said coastal erosion was the issue of their lifetime, with a majority worried that the state may not solve the problem.

"We are gathering key stakeholders and coastal leaders to consider two pressing issues," said AWF Senior Advisor Sidney Coffee. "Can we stay the course and move past politics and special interests for the common good, and can we finance the work using creative approaches that draw in the private sector as true restoration partners?"

The master planning process has evolved over time, as has coastal land loss. AWF, through its public outreach, often notes the loss represents the equivalent of a football field of land each hour. Mandated by law, the plan must be revised every five years to adapt to a changing landscape and challenges posed by a rising tide.

Through the roundtables and summit, AWF will employ similar strategies used in its groundbreaking 2012 to 2013 series of Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities forums. In 2013, the foundation also convened the second World Delta Dialogues in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam as a way to elevate the plight of coastal regions soon to feel the effects of sea level rise and subsiding deltas.

"We have learned that, when bringing the wetlands issue forward, every interest must be at a balanced table as we seek solutions to one of the world's greatest challenges," said Val Marmillion, AWF managing director. "Voters recognize by overwhelming majorities that it will take cooperative action on the part of both the public and private sectors to save our coast for future generations."