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ABSTRACT: Toward A Method and Theory for Restoring Coastal Louisiana


A century long transgression of the coastal Louisiana deltaic and chenier plains has resulted in the loss of more than one million acres (404,700 hectares) of coastal wetlands and threatens human presence and activity. During the more than twenty-five years Since the problem was identified, more than 25 years ago, Louisiana and the U.S. Federal Government have been struggling to develop a plan and process which, when implemented, would allow for maintenance of an infrastructure for human activity and also provide a mechanism for dynamic continuity of the coastal ecosystems. These efforts include non-structural measures (research, public education, coastal management laws and regulations, permits, mitigation, etc.) and structural measures for coastal restoration (river diversions, barrier island sand nourishment, marsh building, etc.). This paper evaluates the evolving method and theory in search of: 1) the most effective course of action, 2) reduction in the need for trial and error, and 3) application to other areas.

Restoration to historic conditions is an unattainable goal as processes and materials now available cannot sustain deltaic and chenier plain systems as large as those which historically existed. The present level of scientific understanding regarding natural systems, engineering capabilities and technological advances is sufficient to achieve satisfactory restructuring of Louisiana's coastal area. However, several remaining obstacles are: 1) a clear statement of objectives, 2) a proper institutional framework, and 3) state and national commitment.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90941©1997 GCAGS 47th Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana