Some Louisiana residents will be impacted by changes in this very productive ecosystem whether or not the actions discussed in the LCA Study are undertaken.
There are management and engineering actions that could be done to improve the current condition in some areas.
Land loss is a very urgent problem that with time will only become worse and more costly to address.
It is not possible to restore the entire area, and some communities and existing habitats will be lost.
Large parts of the ecosystem will undergo shifting habitat types, and the rate of change and ability of the ecosystem to adapt will depend on the management strategy adopted.
As stated in numerous U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) policy statements and recommended in many recent National Research Council reports, planning and implementation of water resources projects (including those involving environmental restoration) should be undertaken within the context of the larger system. In keeping with this system approach, comprehensive efforts to address land loss in coastal Louisiana should treat the entire area as an integrated system (actions taken in one locale will have a direct or indirect influence elsewhere in the Mississippi River Delta). The overall project management approach should also be transparent, scientifically based and defensible and be implemented through an adaptive management process to adjust to the best available knowledge of the region. Both the urgency and the need for comprehensive planning initiatives have been identified by earlier independent reviews (Boesch et al., 1994). Efforts to restore coastal Louisiana started about 30 years ago, and this chapter chronicles the more recent efforts. (See Box 1.1 for a list of efforts from 1967 to the release of the LCA Study.)
In recognition of the national importance of wetlands and the significant wetland losses occurring in Louisiana and elsewhere, Congress passed the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) (P.L. 101-646, Title III) in 1990. CWPPRA establishes both a national wetlands conservation initiative and a wetlands conservation and restoration program for the State of Louisiana. The objectives of CWPPRA are as follows: