In summary, there are stabilized elements of the modern system of coastal Louisiana that are of critical importance to society, including the water supply for New Orleans, navigation, and a relative permanence of the present landscape and its urban and industrial infrastructure. It is worthwhile noting that the LCA Study seeks to maintain, more or less, the current landscape; however, many diverse natural landscapes have existed in the past. An example is that at one time the Mississippi River with its natural levees ended at the current Head of Passes. Were all of these past landscapes less desirable than the one that these efforts are designed to preserve?

This brief discussion illustrates the complexities facing the planners, engineers, scientists, and decision makers involved in designing and implementing the LCA Study. Broad and strong political support at the state level for the LCA Study is evident, but this can be maintained only through effective management and the achievement of early successes.

Structure of This Report

This document represents the cumulative efforts of the committee to provide answers to the questions in the statement of task. The report contains seven additional chapters (brief overviews can be found at the beginning of each chapter). Chapter 2 offers an overview of Louisiana’s past and present coastal system to provide an understanding of the limitations the physical and biological systems place on restoration efforts. Chapter 3 discusses present-day conflicts and the sociopolitical limitations to efforts to return the delta to a desirable condition. Chapter 4 describes previous and ongoing efforts, such as CWPPRA, to protect and restore coastal Louisiana. Chapter 5 focuses on the planning process used to develop the LCA Study, while Chapter 6 discusses the LCA Study itself. Chapter 7 discusses knowledge gaps identified during the review of the LCA Study, which merit attention through an adaptive management process as efforts move forward. Finally, Chapter 8 provides an integrated discussion of the findings and recommended actions that should be taken by USACE and the State of Louisiana to strengthen the efforts laid out in the LCA Study to protect and restore coastal Louisiana.

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