La. should use flood for wetlands

Published 1:23 pm Friday, May 27, 2011

Can Louisiana seize opportunity?

The Mississippi River is moving an estimated 1.9 million cubic feet of water and sediments through Louisiana’s eroding coastal areas and out into the Gulf of Mexico.

The opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway is pouring freshwater and sediment into Lake Pontchartrain on the east side of the Mississippi River instead of into the marshlands on the west side where it could combat erosion.

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Robert Twilley, science adviser to America’s Wetland Foundation, truly points out that Louisiana is missing a great opportunity to combine flood control with restoration efforts.

“We throw away our dredge spoils and we allow critical barrier islands and ridges to disappear. Because of the critical nature of the threat facing South Louisiana, we must be guided by science to guide decisions,” said R. King Milling, the foundation chair. …

Public safety, of course, has to be government’s top concern at this time. In the big picture, however, strategic plans should be in place to seize the opportunities to harness the river’s natural restorative powers and redirect the river’s nourishing minerals into the marshes and coastal areas.

This is not just a Louisiana issue.

Louisiana contributes about a third of the nation’s seafood and serves as the nursery grounds for some 90 percent of all marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. Our wetlands provide a major habitat for wildlife and millions of migratory waterfowl and other birds. This state contributes about 30 percent of the nation’s energy supply.

Louisiana is running out of time to rebuild our coastal areas and wetlands. The crisis needs the nation’s immediate attention and help because the shared losses will be immeasurable.