Coast 2050: Toward A Sustainable Coastal Louisiana

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Coast 2050: Toward a SustainableCoastal LouisianaFederalState LocalPARTNERSHIPCOAST 2050Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservationand Restoration Task Forceand theWetlands Conservation and RestorationAuthority

This document is one of three that outline a jointly developed, Federal/State/Local, planto address Louisiana’s massive coastal land loss problem and provide for a sustainablecoastal ecosystem by the year 2050. These three documents are:!Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coastal Louisiana,!Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coastal Louisiana, An Executive Summary,!Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coastal Louisiana, The Appendices.FederalState LocalPARTNERSHIPCOAST 2050Suggested citation: Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force and the WetlandsConservation and Restoration Authority. 1998. Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coastal Louisiana.Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. Baton Rouge, La. 161 p.Cover: “Pelican Sunset” photograph by C.C. Lockwood, P.O. Box 14876, Baton Rouge, La. 70898.For additional information on coastal restoration in Louisiana: www.lacoast.gov orwww.savelawetlands.org.Two thousand copies of this public document were published in this first printing at a total cost of 15,037.28. This documentwas published by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 94396, Baton Rouge, La. 70804-9396 to fulfill therequirements of a coastal restoration plan under the authority of Public Law 101-646. This material was printed in accordancewith the standards for printing by state agencies established pursuant to R.S. 43:31. Printing of this material was purchased inaccordance with the provisions of Title 43 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes.

Coast 2050:Toward a SustainableCoastal Louisianareport of theLouisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservationand Restoration Task Forceand theWetlands Conservation and Restoration AuthorityLouisiana Department of Natural ResourcesBaton Rouge, La. 1998

prepared byCOAST 2050 PLANNING MANAGEMENT TEAM of the Louisiana CoastalWetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force or “Breaux Act Task Force” and theWetlands Conservation and Restoration Authority or “State Wetlands Authority”:Bill Good, ChairmanLouisiana Dept. of NaturalResourcesGerry BodinU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServicePaul CoreilLouisiana Cooperative ExtensionServiceBeverly EthridgeU.S. Environmental ProtectionAgencySherwood GaglianoCoastal Environments, Inc.Sue HawesU.S. Army Corps of EngineersPaul KempLouisiana State UniversityQuin KinlerNatural Resources ConservationServiceDenise ReedUniversity of New OrleansRic RuebsamenNational Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministrationGlenn ThomasLa. Dept. of Wildlife and FisheriesLee WilsonLee Wilson and AssociatesCOAST 2050 REGIONAL TEAM LEADERS: Darryl Clark, Stehle Harris, SueHawes, Jane Ledwin, Phil Pittman, and Faye Talbot.OTHER CONTRIBUTORS: Phil Bowman, Louis Britsch, Cheryl Brodnax, CullenCurole, Mark Davis, Greg DuCote, Ken Duffy, Jay Gamble, Steve Gammill, CatherineGrouchy, Bren Haase, Walter Keithly, Mike Liffman, Dianne Lindstedt, Steve Mathies,Gerald Morrissey, Jeanene Peckham, Bryan Piazza, Jon Porthouse, Ken Roberts, RobinRoberts, Gregg Snedden, Joe Suhayda, Cynthia Taylor and Katherine Vaughan.iii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We would also like to thank those listed below, who, inaddition to those whose names are inscribed on preceding pages, helped to make thisdocument possible in the 18 months available to complete it: Bob Ancelet, JimAnderson, Steve Anderson, Chris Andry, Dan Arceneaux, Neil Armingeon, Donald Ayo,John Barras, Marty Beasely, Ted Beaullieu, Harold Becnel, Sr., Michael Bertrand,Thomas Bigford, Dean Blanchard, Allen Bolotte, Brett Boston, Marty Bourgeois, EdBritton, Charles Broussard, John Burden, Martin Cancienne, Paul Cancienne, DudleyCarver, Jody Chenier, Paul Clifton, Sidney Coffee, Sandy Corkern, Woody Crews,Windell Curole, David Cvitanovich, Doug Daigle, Phyllis Darensbourg, Rhonda Davis,Richard DeMay, Bart DeVillier, Carlton Dufrechou, “Judge” Edwards, Karen Eldridge,Michelle Enright, Tanya Falcon, Gaye Farris, Marty Floyd, Brian Fortson, Stan Foster,Roy Francis, Karen Gautreaux, Clyde Giordano, Rodney Guilbeaux, Vince Guillory,Warren Harang, Robert Hastings, Robert Helm, Vern Herr, Tom Herrington, Tom Hess,Mark Hester, Tina Horn, Jerald Horst, Robin Hote, Michael Hunnicutt, Dale Hymel, TomHymel, Jimmy Johnson, Pete Jones, Robert Jones, Pete Juneau, John Jurgensen, NoelKinler, Tim Landreneau, Lindsey Landry, Brian LeBlanc, Kaye LeBlanc, Mike LeBlanc,Bruce Lehto, Donald Lirette, Oneil Malbrough, Earl Matherne, Larry McNease, VincentMelvin, Clay Midkiff, Cathy Mitias, Dave Moreland, Lindsay Nachishima, Mike Olinde,Ronny Paille, Britt Paul, Randy Pausina, Annell Peek, Guthrie Perry, Loulan Pitre,Samuel Pizzolato, Hollis Poche, Tom Podany, Ed Preau, Terrell Rabalais, Terry Rabot,Kay Radlauer, David Richard, Kevin Roy, Dugan Sabins, Donald Sagrera, SherrillSagrera, Mr. & Mrs. Oliver Salinovich, “Pete” Savoie, Kevin Savoie, Mark Schexnayder,Lynn Schonberg, Robert Schroeder, Deborah Schultz, Gary Shaffer, Tammy Shaw, MarkShirley, Butch Stegall, Charles Stemmans, “Bob” Stewart, Kerry St. Pé, Pam Sturrock,Doug Svendson, Jr., John Taliancich, Ed Theriot, Paul Thibodeaux, Norm Thomas, BethVairin, Bill Vermilion, “Chuck” Villarrubia, Carol Vinning, Jenneke Visser, Ann Walden,Mike Walden, Becky Weber, Marnie Winter, John Woodard, Paul Yakupzack, LindaZaunbrecher, Wayne Zaunbrecher, Jerome Zeringue, and John Zimmer.iv

CONTENTSCHAPTER 1: COAST 2050: THE NEED FOR ACTION . . . . . . . . . . . . 1The Problem: System Collapse in Coastal Louisiana.Coast 2050: A NEW Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Coast 2050 Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1255CHAPTER 2: COAST 2050: THE PLAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7Before Coast 2050 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7The Mission of Coast 2050 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7Coast 2050 Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8The Coast 2050 Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10The Role of the Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11CHAPTER 3: COASTAL LOUISIANA TODAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19Deltaic Plain Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Deltaic Plain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Delta Cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Mudstream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chenier Plain Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Resulting Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Uplands, Ridgelands, and Fastlands. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Estuarine Basins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Barrier Islands and Gulf Shore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .191919252527272830CHAPTER 4: DETERIORATION OF THE LANDSCAPE . . . . . . . . . 31Rates and Patterns of Loss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Factors Controlling Marsh Sustainability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sea Level Rise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Subsidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Aggradation vs. Relative Sea Level Rise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Survival or Submergence? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Other Major Causes of Losses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Altered Hydrology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Storms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Interior Marsh Loss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Edge Erosion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Herbivory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Dredge and Fill Activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Consequences of Land Loss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Human Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Collapse of the Natural System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .v31333333383940404040414141414242

CHAPTER 5: COASTAL LOUISIANA IN 2050 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47Historic Coastal Land Loss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47Projected Land Loss Rates and Locations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48Projected Habitat Conversions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48CHAPTER 6: CONSEQUENCES OF LANDSCAPEDETERIORATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51Economic Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Coastal Communities and Demographics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Physical Infrastructure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Storm Surge Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Consumptive Uses of Wetlands. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nonconsumptive Uses of Wetlands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Major Case Studies and Smaller Vignettes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Community at Risk: South Lafourche Corridor . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Community at Risk: New Orleans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Community at Risk: Yscloskey (St. Bernard Parish) . . . . . . . . . .Community at Risk: Cocodrie (Terrebonne Parish) . . . . . . . . . . .Community at Risk.: Holly Beach /Constance Beach (CameronParish) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Summary of Coastal Communities at Risk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Fisheries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Historic Trends in Fisheries Production. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Projected Trends in Fisheries Production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Wildlife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 1 Wildlife Trends and Projections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 2 Wildlife Trends and Projections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 3 Wildlife Trends and Projections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 4 Wildlife Trends and Projections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PTER 7: ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES . 79Strategic Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Coastwide Common Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 1 Strategic Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Habitat Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Regional Ecosystem Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sequencing of Regional Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Local and Common Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .vi7981838383868990

Region 2 Strategic Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Habitat Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Regional Ecosystem Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sequencing of Regional Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Local and Common Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 3 Strategic Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Habitat Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Regional Ecosystem Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sequencing of Regional Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Local and Common Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 4 Strategic Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Habitat Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Regional Ecosystem Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sequencing of Regional Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Local and Common Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Costs and Benefits of Regional Ecosystem Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 1 Benefits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 2 Benefits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 3 Benefits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Region 4 Benefits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Benefits of Regional Strategies to Communities at Risk . . . . . . . . . . . .South Lafourche Corridor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .New Orleans Metropolitan Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Yscloskey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Cocodrie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Holly Beach/Constance Beach. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122122123124124125125125125126126126CHAPTER 8: INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127Breaux Act Coordination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Breaux Act Consistency Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Breaux Act Restoration Plan/Coastal Zone Provision . . . . . . . .Breaux Act Conservation Plan Implementation Requirements . .Beneficial Use of Dredged Material . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Programmatic Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Coastwide Programmatic Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Regional and Mapping Unit Programmatic Recommendations .Compensation Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .vii127127128128129131131133135

CHAPTER 9: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY . . . . . . . . . . . . 139Research Needs and Improved Understanding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Improved Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Restoration Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Predictive Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Information Needs and Database Development. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Integration of Science and Technology–Examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Coast 2050 Science and Technology Challenge . . . . . . . . . . . . . .139140140141141142142CHAPTER 10: REALIZING THE GOAL: PRINCIPLES FORIMPLEMENTING THE COAST 2050 PLAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143Measures of Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Short Term . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Long Term . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Scale of Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ingredients for Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Commitment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Urgency of the Coast 2050 Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .143143143144144145145145145146REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147viii

FIGURES AND TABLESFigures1-11-2Wetlands projected to be lost in the Deltaic Plain between 1993 and 2050 . . . . . 3Wetlands projected to be lost in the Chenier Plain between 1993 and 2050 . . . . . 42-12-22-3Coast 2050 organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9Regions used in Coast 2050 plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10Coast 2050 development process. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113-13-23-33-43-5a3-5b3-6Map of major coastal Louisiana land forms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Deltaic Plain landmass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Land building in the vicinity of active distributary outlets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Barrier island cycle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mudstream offshore. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mudstream onshore. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Coastal Louisiana vegetation zones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .202121232626294-14-24-34-44-54-64-7Loss rates of the entire Louisiana coastal area and Deltaic and Chenier Plains. .Distribution of land loss in the Louisiana coastal area. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Projected best estimate of worldwide rise in sea level. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Major fault trends and future changes in land elevation of south Louisiana. . . .Subsidence rates in coastal Louisiana by mapping unit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Natural and modified conditions along the Mississippi River corridor. . . . . . . .Estimates of Louisiana barrier island area. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .313233353743446-1Communities discussed in case studies and vignettes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 587-17-27-37-47-57-67-77-87-97-107-117-12Coast 2050 habitat objectives for Region 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84Coast 2050 Region 1 regional ecosystem strategies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85Region 1 mapping units. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91Coast 2050 habitat objectives for Region 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93Coast 2050 Region 2 regional ecosystem strategies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94Region 2 mapping units. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102Coast 2050 habitat objectives for Region 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104Coast 2050 Region 3 regional ecosystem strategies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105Region 3 mapping units. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112Coast 2050 habitat objectives for Region 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114Coast 2050 Region 4 regional ecosystem strategies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115Region 4 mapping units. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121ix

Tables2-12-2Milestones concerning coastal restoration in Louisiana. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12Coast 2050 public meetings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153-1Swamp and marsh salinity ranges and major plant species. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304-1Subsidence of coastal cities and communities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 455-15-2Wetland loss projections. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49Existing and projected habitat types in each Coast 2050 region. . . . . . . . . . . . . 506-1Representative fish and invertebrate guilds of coastal Louisiana. . . . . . . . . . . . 78x

CHAPTER 1COAST 2050: THE NEED FOR ACTIONThe Problem: SystemCollapse in CoastalLouisianaby 2050 coastal Louisiana will lose morethan 630,000 additional acres of coastalmarshes, swamps, and islands. The losscould be greater, especially if worst-casescenario projections of sea-level rise arerealized, but in some places there isnothing left to lose.The rate of coastal land loss in Louisianahas reached catastrophic proportions.Within the last 50 years, land loss rateshave exceeded 40 square miles per year,and in the 1990’s the rate has beenestimated to be between 25 and 35square miles each year. This lossrepresents 80% of the coastal wetlandloss in the entire continental UnitedStates.Along with the loss of acreage goes theloss of the various functions and valuesassociated with the wetlands:commercial harvests of fisheries,furbearers and alligators; recreationalfishing and hunting, and ecotourism;habitats for threatened and endangeredspecies; water quality improvement;navigation corridors and port facilities;flood control, including bufferinghurricane storm surges; and theintangible value of land settled centuriesago and passed down throughgenerations. The public use value of thisloss is estimated to be in excess of 37billion by 2050, but the losses associatedwith cultures and heritage areimmeasurable.The reasons for wetland loss arecomplex and vary across the state. Sincethe scale of the problem was recognizedand quantified in the 1970’s, much hasbeen learned about the factors that causemarshes to change to open water andthat result in barrier island fragmentationand submergence. The effects of naturalprocesses like subsidence and stormshave combined with human actions atlarge and small scales to produce asystem on the verge of collapse.Coastal planning efforts in Louisianabegan in earnest in the mid-1970’s.Since then, many plans and studies havebeen developed by technical experts,citizens’groups, and State and Federalagencies.System collapse threatens the continuedproductivity of Louisiana’s bountifulcoastal ecosystems, the economicviability of its industries, and the safetyof its residents. If recent loss ratescontinue into the future, even taking intoaccount current restoration efforts, thenPrimary efforts to prevent catastrophicland loss have been implemented under1

the Federal Coastal Wetlands Planning,Protection and Restoration Act(hereafter, “Breaux Act”) in partnershipwith Louisiana’s efforts through Act 6(LA. R.S. 49:213 et seq.). Between 1990and 1997, almost 250 million wasallocated through the Breaux Act towardprojects expected to prevent 13% of thisloss. Two separately funded largerprojects, the Caernarvon and Davis PondFreshwater Diversions, with a combinedconstruction cost of approximately 130million, will divert fresh water from theMississippi River into adjacent coastalbasins for salinity control and will alsoimprove conditions within the coastalmarshes. These projects, combined withBreaux Act efforts, should prevent up to22% of the loss projected to occur by2050 (Figs. 1-1, 1-2). The Breaux Actprojects and the two large diversionsdemonstrate that we have the ability toprevent ecosystem collapse, and showthat larger projects can be very effective.initiatives from private citizens, localgovernments, State and Federal agencypersonnel, and the scientific community.CTo sustain a coastal ecosystemwith the essential functions andvalues of the natural ecosystem,What is needed now is a program thatassures that all the best projects are builtin the most efficient and timely manner.As noted by the Coalition to RestoreCoastal Louisiana (1998), restorationrequires a single coastal plan with a clear,overarching strategic vision, a processfor ensuring effective public input torestoration planning, and integration ofrestoration projects into the overallcoastal management system.CTo restore the ecosystem to thehighest practicable acreage ofproductive and diverse wetlands,andCTo accomplish this restorationthrough an integrated programthat has multiple use benefits;benefits not solely for wetlands,but for all the communities andresources of the coast.For the first time, as explicitly called forby the Coalition to Restore CoastalLouisiana in 1997, diverse groups havecome together to develop one sharedvision for the coast expressed in thisoverarching goal: to sustain a coastalecosystem that supports and protectsthe environment, economy and cultureof southern Louisiana, and thatcontributes greatly to the economy andwell-being of the nation.The first step in achieving this goal is toproduce a technically sound plan basedupon managing ecosystems with threeclear strategic objectives:Coast 2050: A NEWApproachImportant new information has beendeveloped in this innovative approach toplanning. Among other contributions,the Coast 2050 Plan provides newquantitative techniques for projectingland loss patterns into the future, the firstcoastwide assessment of subsidencerates and patterns, and the firstCoast 2050 is a planning effort inspiredby the severity of the problems facingsouth Louisiana, as well as an increasedlevel of confidence in our ability tounderstand the ecosystem and toimplement effective restoration projects.The plan combines elements of allprevious efforts, along with new2

LakeMaurepasLake igure 1-1. Wetlands projected to be lost in the Deltaic Plain (shown in black) between 1993 and 2050 (adapted from LSUNatural Systems Engineering Laboratory, 1998).

LakeCharlesSabineLakeCalcasieuLakeGrandLakeWhite Lake4VermilionBayWest CoteBlanche BayEast CoteBlanche BayAtchafalayaBayFigure 1-2. Wetlands projected to be lost in the Chenier Plain (shown in black) between 1993 and 2050 (adapted from LSUNatural Systems Engineering Laboratory, 1998).

expected costs and benefitsassociated with implementation ofthe plan,comprehensive consideration of changesin fish and wildlife populations.Also new is the extent to which theplanning process has involved theaffected public at the local level. Indeed,many of the ecosystem restorationstrategies included in this plan are notnew, but recently they have received farwider understanding and endorsement.The participation of local governmentsand private citizens in plan developmenthas made an essential contribution to theplan. Chapters 8 and 9 address broaderinstitutional issues and scientific andtechnological needs, and The final chapter outlines how thisplan should lead to actions that willsave the coast.A separate document contains theappendices that record much of thedetailed work that went into preparationof the plan. These appendices explainthe new methods used to inventoryexisting conditions and to project futureconditions. They also detail the publicinvolvement in the planning process.The level of citizen support for this newapproach to restoration planning incoastal Louisiana is demonstrated byone astonishing fact: councils and policejuries of all 20 coastal parishes havepassed resolutions in support of theCoast 2050 ecosystem strategies.SummaryThe Coast 2050 PlanCoast 2050 has been a truly collectiveeffort among Federal, State, and localgovernments. The effort has beenaffirmed by the adoption of the plan bythe Louisiana Coastal WetlandsConservation and Restoration TaskForce and the Wetlands Conservationand Restoration Authority as theirofficial restoration plan, the transmissionof this plan to the U.S. Department ofCommerce by the State of Louisiana toincorporate it into the Louisiana CoastalResources Program Guidelines, andresolutions of support from 20 coastalparish councils and police juries.The information in this document hasbeen organized to include the essentialdetails supporting the need for action incoastal Louisiana and the specificstrategies to accomplish success. Eachchapter stands alone, with anorganization as follows: The 18-month process used to buildthe plan is described in Chapter 2, Chapters 3-6 detail the landscape ofcoastal Louisiana and the problems itfaces, the implications of thesechanges for fish and wildlifepopulations, and the severeecono

to address Louisiana's massive coastal land loss problem and provide for a sustainable coastal ecosystem by the year 2050. These three documents are:! Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coastal Louisiana, ! Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coastal Louisiana, An Executive Summary, ! Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coastal Louisiana, The Appendices.

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