How Fast is the Marsh Disappearing?
The marsh is disappearing at a rate of an area the size of a football field every hour.
Louisiana contains approximately 40% of the nations wetlands and experiences 80% of the coastal wetland loss in the lower 48 states.
If the present land loss rates continue, more than 155 miles of waterways and several major ports will be exposed to open water within 50 years.
At the current rate of land loss, nearly 640,000 more acres, an area the size of Road Island, will be underwater by the year 2050.
ABOVE Graphic charts land loss south of the City of New Orleans (circled)
Natural wetland functions provide important benefits to coastal populations such as: buffering storm impacts; storing and conveying floodwater; absorbing nutrients, sediments and contaminants; maintaining high biological diversity and productivity; serving as a nursery ground for fish and a habitat for wildlife.
Why Does it Matter?
Louisiana accounts for 30 - 40% of the nation's fishery harvest, including shrimp, crabs, crayfish, oysters and the many species of fin fish.
The Louisiana Coastal Zone provides 24% of the nation's natural gas and 18% of the nation's petroleum as well as the vast pipeline infrastructure necessary to transport it.
The marsh provides a critical buffer zone that protects the City of New Orleans from the most severe impact of the gulf hurricanes.
Despite the impact of the oil and gas industry, the Louisiana coastal marsh remains one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems in the world.
Over 90% of the animal species in the Gulf of Mexico rely on the Louisiana coastal marshes at some point in their developmental life cycle.
ABOVE Volunteers prepare to position floating matts made from recycled plastics. The matts hold grass plugs in place and will provide a substrate for land formation. The system was developed by Martin Ecosystems of Baton Rouge.
State and federal agencies are working in concert with private and non-profit conservation organizations to preserve and restore Louisiana's valuable coastal wetlands.
What's Being Done to Save the Marsh?
The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion Project, designed to redirect sediment from the Mississippi River to rebuild landmass, is the most ambitious project currently underway with cost approaching $1billion.
The Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority has developed a Coastal Master Plan that has identified projects with a projected cost of $11 billion over the next 15 years.
We have identified more than 45 organizations currently active in coastal conservation and restoration efforts. The RIG will supply a volunteer workforce to work alongside members of many of these organizations in an effort to save our wetlands.
The Louisiana coastal marsh is not a pristine undiscovered wilderness. It is a beautiful and broken landscape
that, having survived the exploitation of numerous industries over several hundred years, remains one of the
most important and productive ecosystems in the world today. Nevertheless - it is disappearing.
Why is the Marsh Disappearingg?
Tropical storms and hurricanes erode marsh and push salt water into the fresh water marshes killing the grass which binds the solid materials.
The changes in soil inundation and salinity decrease vegetation.
Due to the levee system, subsidence of soil is no longer countered by the annual flooding of the Mississippi River.
Gradual rise in sea levels which have resulted from the overall rise in global temperature.
Louisiana's Salt-Water Marsh is the Fastest Disappearing Landmass on Earth.