Group has plan to 'fix' saltwater barrier, save wetlands, restore coast

Updated: Jan. 5, 2017 at 11:21 PM CST
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Source: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
Source: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Every five years, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority releases its master plan to help restore Louisiana's disappearing coast.

On Tuesday, the organization released its 2017 master plan.

"It really entails looking across the coast at how do we select the best projects that build and sustain the most land and reduce risk to our coastal communities," said Natalie Peyronnin , director of science policy for the environmental defense fund.

Out of 120 projects, 43 are here in Southwest Louisiana - from the Atchafalaya Basin to the Sabine River. One project in the area hits at an issue close to home.

"The Calcasieu Ship Channel has allowed saltwater to come into the marshes and the wetland areas, and it has killed large vast areas of wetlands," said Peyronnin.

Back in August, the Department of Treasury granted $16 million towards this project and set a construction ready date of 2020.

Kimberly Reyher, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana's executive director, said this project will help protect the marshes.

"By changing the hydrology to keep the saltwater where it should be and the fresh water where it should be, we can help the marshes thrive," said Reyher.

Dennis Scott, Calcasieu Police Jury member, has seen the plans and believes it will help with the master plan Calcasieu Parish is currently working on.

"With that being brought to the table within the next five years, we'll begin to implement our own projects into that plan." said Scott.

The biggest thing holding back a lot of these projects, though, is money.

"We know how to do these things," said Reyher. "A lot has been learned in Louisiana and elsewhere, but a lot of this is about money."

But with the help of these projects, Louisiana is expected to look very different in the next 50 years.

"I think we will be able to sustain our kind of way of life, our culture, our wetlands, and our ties to those wetlands as well as the economics that they bring," said Peyronnin.

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority will be visiting Lake Charles on Jan. 17 to go over its master plan with the public and get feedback.

For more information or to read the plan click HERE.

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana will also be headed to Cameron Parish for its Coastal Restoration Road Show on March 2.

For more information on that show click HERE.

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