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Secretary of commerce Rebecca Blank announced the development of projects to restore deteriorated Wetlands and Barrier Island. (Photo: commerce.gov)

USD 102 mln goes to Louisiana damaged wetlands, barrier island habitats

Click on the flag for more information about United States UNITED STATES
Friday, September 30, 2011, 15:30 (GMT + 9)

Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank has announced USD 102 million for three Louisiana projects in the Barataria and Terrebone basins, to restore deteriorated wetlands and barrier island habitats along the state’s coast. These awards are funded by the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) programme. 

US Representative Cedric Richmond, D- Louisiana, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Director Garret Graves and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Project Director Bobby Guichet also participated in the announcement.

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock and Weeks Marine have been contracted to restore beach, dune and marsh on Pelican Island in Plaquemines Parish, and West Belle Pass barrier headland in Lafourche Parish, respectively. Louisiana will receive the third award to rebuild marsh and construct an 11,000-ft long protective ridge in the Bayou Dupont area in Jefferson Parish.
 
The three projects will employ local citizens and generate further economic benefits for local businesses and coastal communities.

“Restoring wetlands and barrier islands and the habitat they support provides immediate local jobs and makes a long-term investment in the health of our fisheries and the resilience of our coastline,” Blank said. “This restoration will pay dividends for those whose lives and livelihoods depend on sustainable Gulf fisheries and for all Americans who enjoy Gulf seafood.”

“It affects our seafood supply, gas and oil reserves, and storm protection. Reversing this trend is a critical national priority, which is why it's my fight,” Richmond said. “This is also why these grant announcements are so critical.”

At the event, Blank also outlined help the American Jobs Act would provide Louisiana – putting people to work and boosting businesses.

For Louisiana, the Jobs Act would mean:

•    80,000 firms receiving a payroll tax cut;
•    6,400 jobs supported for highway and transit modernization projects;
•    6,300 educators and first responders who get to stay on the job;
•    Help for 42,000 long-term unemployed workers; and,
•    A USD 1,400 tax cut for the typical Louisiana household.

The Jobs Act would complement the coastal restoration work funded by the awards announced by Blank.

Currently, Louisiana accounts for nearly 71 percent of US fisheries landings by weight from the Gulf of Mexico. Many species of finfish, shrimp, and crab depend on the wetlands of the Barataria Basin for habitat during their life cycles.

But with one of the highest rates of wetlands loss in the world, the Louisiana coastline has deteriorated extensively over the last 80 years, losing more than 420 sqmi of wetlands to open water in the Barataria Basin alone.

These losses are largely the result of long-term, man-made changes, including the construction of levees, which have cut off the natural flow of nourishing sediments.

Although the area sustained damage as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the three projects in Bayou Dupont, Pelican Island and West Belle Pass were designed prior to the spill and are intended to address long-standing issues rather than the direct repercussions of the spill.

Restoring the wetlands and barrier islands will also increase protection for Louisiana’s people and property, as well as one of America’s richest fisheries. By absorbing hurricane storm surge, rebuilt wetland and barrier island areas will help protect Orleans and Jefferson parishes, two of the top-five most densely populated counties in the Gulf coastal zone.

Related article:

-
Louisiana governor unveils plan to restore the state´s coast

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