Syed M. Khalil, Gregory M. Grandy, and Richard C. Raynie, 2020. “Ecosystem restoration in Louisiana — a decade after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill”, Shore & Beach 88(1), 38-48. http://doi.org/10.34237/1008815
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Ecosystem restoration in Louisiana — a decade after the Deep Water Horizon oil spill
Syed M. Khalil, Gregory M. Grandy, and Richard C. Raynie
Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, 150 Terrace Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA, 70802
Corresponding author: Syed.Khalil@LA.GOV
Louisiana has a long history of coastal management and restoration actions with multiple projects implementing common approaches. Traditionally, most of the restoration efforts have been ongoing in Louisiana by state and federal agencies through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA). These activities are now being expanded significantly through additional funding and implementing entities such as the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act of 2012 Council, National Resource and Damage Assessment (NRDA) through the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group (LA TIG), and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Considering a broader ecosystem or landscape context for implemented restoration projects can provide a framework for emphasizing commonality of restoration goals. Such a framework allows for multiple benefits of restoration efforts to be quantified, including prioritized natural resources, ultimately assessing the effectiveness of large-scale restoration efforts in coastal Louisiana. Three disasters have completely changed the trajectory of Louisiana’s coastal resto- ration and protection program. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) compelled the state to take serious note of the vagaries of nature, especially high-energy events like hurricanes, and to develop a comprehensive/robust coastal protection and restoration plan. Five years later, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill exposed the fragility of the Louisiana coast but at the same time penalty monies provided much needed funding to implement the state’s coastal protection and restoration plans. This paper provides a high-level assessment of project implementation and makes the case that Louisiana could move quickly in the implementation of various restoration plans because robust and comprehensive restoration plans were previously developed and are available. Here, it must be appreciated that for the first time, dedicated funding is available not only for regional programmatic monitoring to implement adaptive management, but also for development of the art and science of restoration. It is also suggested that for efficient and cost effective implementation of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan federal agencies must work in tandem with the state/CPRA who not only bring the most comprehensive plan but expertise along with institutional knowledge to the table