Obama calls for Gulf restoration plan within year Baton Rouge, LA
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — President Barack Obama has created a special task force to develop long-term restoration plans for the Gulf Coast in the wake of the BP oil spill and called on the panel to come up with a strategy for future work within one year.
Now, that is news I really like.
Louisiana has been trying to get funding assistance for coastal restoration for more than 30 years. It’s a shame what had to happen to focus attention on this issue, but I’m glad to see it’s being taken seriously.
These coastal areas are critical for flood control, water purification, wildlife and aquatic habitats. Prior to human engineering along the length of the Mississippi River, the wetlands were replenished during spring floods. As humans began engineering the land with levees and canals, the beneficial effect of the annual flooding was reduced, and the erosion of the coastal areas began.
From the US Geological Survey:
Human activities during the past century have drastically affected the wetlands.
Natural processes alone are not responsible for the degradation and loss of wetlands in the Mississippi River delta plain. The seasonal flooding that previously provided sediments critical to the healthy growth of wetlands has been virtually eliminated by construction of massive levees that channel the river for nearly 2000 kilometers; sediment carried by the river is now discharged far from the coast, thereby depriving wetlands of vital sediment.
In addition, throughout the wetlands, an extensive system of dredged canals and flood-control structures, constructed to facilitate hydrocarbon exploration and production as well as commercial and recreational boat traffic, has enabled salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to intrude brackish and freshwater wetlands. Moreover, forced drainage of the wetlands to accommodate development and agriculture also contribute to wetlands deterioration and loss.
Here’s an image showing land loss between 1839 and 1993: