Decision makers undertake wetland planning initiative

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA.(KPLC) -Depending where you live, your land may one day be under water. Dire predictions resulting from escalating land loss-- include $350 billion  in Gulf coast assets that may literally be washed away over the next two decades if something isn't done.

But there's a leadership initiative aimed at saving America's Energy Coast.

Those who witnessed Hurricanes Rita and Ike ravage the coast are well familiar with the damage that comes from a hurricane. Yet saltwater intrusion and erosion take their toll as well threatening coastal populations and cultures. Time is running out and experts predict $350 billion in losses in four states over the next twenty years unless they are successful in stopping what scientists know will happen.

The leadership forums are called Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities: Envisioning the Future of America's Energy Coast. Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne says they are determined to help coastal communities thrive and prosper. "That's what this process is designed to do is to have these communities talk about their future, talk about what can be safeguarded, realistically, what can't be safeguarded and to try and chart a course that is going to enable us to save as much of this region as is literally humanly possible and through mother nature possible and through some sense of wisdom and vision right now that prevents what we know will happen if nothing productive is done."

President Obama's man in charge of Gulf Coast Restoration John Hankinson is here for the first forum. A year from now they want a strategy to present to the President. "There will always be diversity in our discussions and that's as it should be, but we really need a strong statement that all of these states are together and underlining the significance of the Gulf, the importance of doing something about ecosystem restoration and wetlands protection in the Gulf not just for the people of the Gulf. Certainly they are major beneficiaries, but for the entire nation."

Officials say leadership forums like this one are aimed to empower communities to look realistically into the future and survive. The forum continues tomorrow with brain storming sessions that will take place as leaders work to develop solutions.

For more on what's being done to save Louisiana's wetlands click here.

The public is invited to comment on findings of latest study about coastal vulnerabilities by clicking here

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