ALL THINGS COASTAL
Welcome to LaCoastPost!
We residents of South Louisiana face the enormous challenges of a sinking and shrinking deltaic coast; rising sea level and increasing hurricane risk from climate change; and an offshore hypoxic, or “dead” zone that forms each summer along our shelf, threatening one of the world’s most productive fisheries. The very existence of one of America’s oldest and most unique cities is clearly at risk, as is the world’s largest port system and the conduit for about 20% of the nation’s energy. We face these interrelated challenges in the global context of a rapidly expanding, energy-hungry population, increasing economic and political uncertainties and peak oil.
Belated recognition of this dire situation, highlighted by the 2005 experience of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, has spawned a multi-billion dollar federal and state funded Louisiana coastal protection and restoration program. This program is now poised to commence construction of some large projects aimed at reducing flood risk and beginning to offset the loss of approximately 2,000 square miles of productive and protective landscape since 1900.
The weblog you have opened, LaCoastPost.com, is dedicated to explore the many complex, costly and politically sensitive issues that swirl around this program.
LaCoastPost.com is an independent, interactive forum for an ongoing informed discussion of the status and future of the Louisiana coast. Our mission is to provide a real time venue in which to debate the current and projected state of our coast, including scientific, socioeconomic, fiscal and political issues. We describe the Louisiana coast as a uniquely productive and historic landscape but also in the context of the world’s great deltaic-estuarine complexes.
We define the deltaic footprint of the Louisiana coastal zone very broadly, encompassing the Continental Shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico, the Deltaic Plain, the Chenier Plain, and the entire lower Mississippi/Atchafalaya/Red River watershed and floodplain inland to Alexandria, La. and including the Old River Control Structure (see Figure 1). We recognize that the future of the Louisiana coast is dependent on upriver management of the entire Mississippi watershed and on global changes in sea level.
We address the status and effectiveness of Louisiana’s coastal protection and restoration program, changes in storm surge risk, alternative river management paradigms, water quality and gulf hypoxia, etc., all within the post-Katrina socioeconomic and political setting.
We consciously attempt to frame issues on a holistic basis, recognizing the global context in which we operate in the 21st century, facing the daunting implications of climate change, including accelerated sea level rise, habitat shifts, potential spread of disease vectors, increase in extreme drought and flood events, increased hurricane energy and frequency, etc. Other global influences include peak oil, freshwater limits and of course human population growth.
We recruit regular contributors and we invite guest posts by scientists, engineers, planners, managers, elected officials, NGO reps, and informed citizens interested in a wide range of cultural, recreational and commercial issues.
We have long envisioned a solution to our challenges that was far beyond our means but in the post-Katrina era we are now poised to fund a multibillion dollar coastal protection/restoration program, a campaign that faces huge technical uncertainties and difficult political decisions. The imminent availability of funding means that our state needs to dramatically expand its professional capacity and to marshall all the brain power and experience at hand. In other words, there is far more than enough work to go around.
Thus it is particularly ironic that a large number of senior level coastal experts, especially academic scientists, have never been seated at the restoration planning table.
We intend to cover a number of broad topics, including ecosystem restoration science, Mississippi River management, gulf hypoxia, One of our initial goals is to develop a metric by which progress in coastal restoration can be measured and reported.
Len Bahr, Founding Editor
This forum is the brainchild of Len Bahr, Ph.D., formerly an LSU coastal science professor, who served between March 1991 and October 2008 as a coastal science and policy advisor in the offices of Louisiana governors Roemer, Edwards, Foster, Blanco and Jindal. A consistent theme of Bahr’s tenure in the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities was to expand the role of science in planning for coastal protection and restoration. The design and mechanics of LaCoastPost.com are the proud creation of Allison Stevens, B.S., an LSU graduate in biology.
This blog is not sponsored by or affiliated with any government agency, interest group or commercial entity.