May 19, 2016

Survey Relays Respondents' Concerns for Louisiana Coastline

Coastal advocates support restoration and dedicated coastal funds

louisiana, coast, survey, wetlands, conservation, funding, legislation

The America's Wetland Foundation (AWF) released results of its recent online selected coastal leaders survey that show high concern among respondents about the state of Louisiana's coast.

The latest polling shows 91% of respondents are "very concerned" and 7% of respondents are "somewhat concerned" about the loss of Louisiana's coastal wetlands. These data from individuals who have previously expressed interest in coastal restoration issues shows higher concern, but is near the 89th percentile of Louisiana voters polled with the same question in a 2014 scientific poll of Louisiana voters.

Eighty percent believe the state should move forward with Louisiana's coastal master plan. The same number also believe large scale projects, such as diverting water and sediment from the Mississippi River, should move forward immediately. Three-quarters of respondents fell into those categories in the 2014 voter survey. Sixty-eight percent noted transitional projects, including shoring up the banks of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to stop saltwater intrusion, are critical to the success of large-scale projects.

"We have a solid coastal plan in which hundreds of top scientists have been drawn to Louisiana to build workable solutions," said King Milling, AWF chairman. "Coastal advocates are concerned about making sure all of our hard earned gains move quickly into implementation and projects get done and that funds remain secure for coastal programs."

A majority—88 percent of respondents—indicated "No" when asked if revenue shortages should allow the state to divert money from coastal restoration until more money is available in the midst of Louisiana's budget deficit.

"The people of Louisiana understand coastal funds must not be diverted for short-term solutions to the budget. Doing so will negate the positive work that has been accomplished in our efforts to create a coastal master plan and our ability to execute it," Sidney Coffee, former coastal chief and AWF senior advisor, said. "We support Governor Edwards in standing firm on this issue."

Despite popular belief, the survey also revealed 66% of people in Louisiana believe climate change is leading to sea level rise and poses a threat to coastal Louisiana, echoing results from 2014.

In the first quarter of 2016, AWF conducted the online survey to test the attitudes of supporters of coastal restoration in Louisiana, with the change of state administrations. The findings, drawn from coastal restoration leaders, while not scientific, allow the foundation to compare data with previous 2014 polling of Louisiana voters from qualified survey research organizations.