The Gulf Coast Post - November 2021

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NOVEMBER 2021 |

It’s been two months since Hurricane Ida came ashore in southeast Louisiana, and many of the people affected by the storm are still in need of assistance. Frankly, many people in southwest Louisiana are still in need of help after being hard hit by Hurricane Laura a year earlier. CRCL is not a disaster aid organization, but we hope that our members and supporters will consider ways to get involved in the recovery. It is often said that we are on the front lines of climate change in south Louisiana. Science tells us that we can expect stronger and more frequent hurricanes; our experience in the past few years makes the importance of confronting our rapidly disappearing coast vividly clear. Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are important for a vast number of reasons. One is that they are a buffer against hurricanes and tropical storms. The concept is simple: The more land that stands between us and the Gulf of Mexico, the less storm surge and damaging winds we face. This natural protection directly benefits millions of people – not to mention jobs, businesses and wildlife. If you’ve volunteered with us in the past, you may wonder how our restoration projects fared in Ida. We wondered too. The good news is that our newest oyster reef, in the waters of Plaquemines Parish, remains in place and is helping to minimize erosion, even as the mound of land it protects was damaged. Our other reefs showed similar stability after the strongest storm ever to hit Louisiana. We also recently joined Pontchartrain Conservancy at Lake Maurepas to check on our volunteer plantings there. We are happy to report that most of the sites were doing well. All trees had new growth on them and showed no signs of vine competition or herbivory. The bull’s tongue was in full bloom, and we noticed increased bird activity. We are planning more volunteer events for the coming months. We will be planting trees and marsh grasses and bagging oysters to build more reefs. Volunteering is one of the easiest ways to get involved in coastal restoration, and it’s also fun. Make plans to join us soon!

Larose from the air a month and a half after Hurricane Ida.


Help chart our course for 2022 We are seeking candidates for our Board of Directors and Coastal Advisory Council. Are you interested, or do you know someone who might be? Let us know. CRCL holds six Board meetings per year. Our meetings are typically 2 to 3 hours in length and are being conducted by Zoom during the pandemic. Among our organizational pillars are building collaboration, driving change and empowering others. We value diversity and inclusivity. We are especially interested in Board candidates who have prior experience. Our Board members serve two-year terms and are expected to contribute to yearly fundraising goals as well as participate in a committee of their choice. We are also seeking candidates for our Coastal Advisory Council. The CAC is a new group formed to involve leaders in diverse fields to advance CRCL’s mission. It brings the state’s leading experts in science and engineering together with the most passionate and motivated advocates for an aggressive defense of our communities. For information or to propose candidates for the CRCL Board or CAC, email CRCL Special Projects Coordinator Isabella Donnell at isabella.donnell@crcl.org. We are also hiring. As of press time, we are still seeking applications for the job of outreach coordinator. The person will work in a coalition setting, with team members from multiple organizations, to develop, execute, track and communicate about outreach and engagement activities that advance coalition goals. Go here to learn more or apply.

CRCL volunteer planting marsh grasses at Bayou Bonfouca


Nominate a Coastal Steward for a CRCL award We have decided to push back our Stewardship Awards event. These awards recognize individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to the conservation and restoration of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Restoring and protecting the natural treasure of Louisiana’s coast is a duty embraced by many people with diverse backgrounds. They are volunteers, students, researchers, sportsmen, governmental and business leaders, and sometimes simply coastal residents who care enough about the future of our state to take action. The deadline for nominations has been shifted to January, and we will celebrate award winners at an in-person event in May. This move made sense for several reasons. Many south Louisiana residents are too preoccupied with immediate needs after Hurricane Ida to commit capacity to award nominations. At the same time, we have seen heroes step up in the aftermath of this storm, and we believe that any coastal awards ceremony that does not recognize them would be incomplete if not irrelevant.

2019 Stewardship Award Winner Jean Landry with Mel Landry

Two special awards will be given in 2022 -- one for stewardship during and after Hurricane Ida and one for stewardship during and after Hurricane Laura. To learn more about the awards or to make a nomination, go here.

Miss SOC? Did you miss our State of the Coast conference this summer? We have good news: Much of the content from the virtual event has been moved to our YouTube channel. The theme of our conference was Time for Action. Together. Check out the program here. Also, please note that our conference, which is held once every two years, will be sticking with odd-numbered years. The in-person State of the Coast conference we had planned to hold in 2020 was pushed back to this year by the pandemic. So our next conference will be in 2023 – and hopefully in person. Please make plans to join us. Meanwhile, the Restore America’s Estuaries Coastal and Estuarine Summit will be held this December in New Orleans.

SOC21 virtual lobby


Join the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Becoming a member of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana helps fuel our restoration work, and we need your help. We have recycled more than 10 million pounds of oyster shell through our Oyster Shell Recycling Program, and we have built two oyster reefs just since the pandemic began. We also plant marsh grasses and trees, educate the next generation of coastal leaders, and shape state and federal policy. But we can’t do it without you, so please consider joining our coalition today. A CRCL membership also makes a great gift. Our volunteer events are also great ways for companies organizations to get involved in coastal restoration, and they great team-building events. We need volunteers this month! There many ways to partner with us. You can find out about them in Corporate Stewardship Guide.

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Volunteers plant marsh grasses

We are accepting contractor proposals for oyster shell containment, pickup and delivery to support our Oyster Shell Recycling Program. Please see our Request for Proposal here.

Sediment diversion support and opposition Independent polling released in mid-August shows that Louisiana residents overwhelmingly support large-scale sediment diversions to build and maintain coastal wetlands, with support of more than 80% statewide. This polling tracks closely to previous surveys on sediment diversions. A draft environmental impact statement on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion was released in March, and a final environmental impact statement is expected early next year.

Conceptual design of Diversion Credit: CPRA

Mid-Barataria

Sediment

This sediment diversion has been decades in the making, and it is recognized by scientists as an essential element of coastal restoration in Louisiana, where more than 2,000 square miles of wetlands have vanished since the 1930s. The project will reconnect the river to surrounding wetlands, delivering sediment and nutrients that have been choked off for generations.

There will be negative impacts associated with the reintroduction of freshwater into coastal wetlands, and the state has committed $300 million toward mitigation. CRCL supports this project, but we also support an honest discussion about how communities and industries will need to adapt. You can learn more about the diversion here.


In the news We recently visited Mardi Gras Pass for a post-Ida reconnaissance mission and to observe the power of the river to build and sustain wetlands. We are happy to report that there wasn’t much to see in terms of Ida damage. Instead, there were plenty of new trees, new land and wildlife. You can read about the trip here. Our policy director, Emily Vuxton, joined WWL-AM for an interview in September. She talked with host Tommy Tucker about Hurricane Ida, flood protection and CPRA barrier island restoration projects. “The more those islands are rebuilt, the more protection they’ll provide,” she said.

Pontchartrain Conservancy's Michael Hopkins talking about the salinity control structure at Mardi Gras Pass

Hear the candidates talk coastal restoration CRCL is co-hosting a New Orleans City Council candidate forum this month, with our partners from The Water Collaborative and The Urban Conservancy. We’ll be asking the candidates about coastal restoration, green infrastructure and more. The forum will be held at the Broadside on November 30 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. To learn more or register, go here.

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