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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana DRAWING LOUISIANA’S NEW MAP ADDRESSING LAND LOSS IN COASTAL LOUISIANA Committee on the Restoration and Protection of Coastal Louisiana Ocean Studies Board Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2512-03-01 and Cooperative Agreement No. 435-300458 between the National Academy of Sciences and the State of Louisiana with support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-10054-2 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 2006920074 Cover: Images of the cypress swamp and navigation canal were provided by Dr. Donald Davis of Louisiana State University. Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana COMMITTEE ON THE RESTORATION AND PROTECTION OF COASTAL LOUISIANA ROBERT DEAN (Chair), University of Florida, Gainesville JEFFREY BENOIT, SRA International, Inc., Arlington, Virginia STEPHEN FARBER, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania REINHARD E. FLICK, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California MARGOT GARCIA, Virginia Commonwealth University (retired), Tucson, Arizona PETER GOODWIN, University of Idaho, Boise DANIEL HUPPERT, University of Washington, Seattle JOSEPH KELLEY, University of Maine, Orono LISA LEVIN, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California SCOTT NIXON, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett JOHN M. TEAL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (retired), Rochester, Massachusetts L. DONELSON WRIGHT, College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia Staff DAN WALKER, Scholar JODI BOSTROM, Research Associate
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana OCEAN STUDIES BOARD SHIRLEY A. POMPONI (Chair), Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Fort Pierce, Florida LEE G. ANDERSON, University of Delaware, Newark WHITLOW AU, University of Hawaii at Manoa ROBERT B. DITTON, Texas A&M University, College Station ROBERT DUCE, Texas A&M University, College Station MARY (MISSY) H. FEELEY, ExxonMobil Exploration Company, Houston, Texas PAUL G. GAFFNEY II, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey HOLLY GREENING, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, St. Petersburg, Florida STANLEY R. HART, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts CYNTHIA M. JONES, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia WILLIAM A. KUPERMAN, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California WILLIAM F. MARCUSON III, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (retired), Vicksburg, Mississippi JACQUELINE MICHEL, Research Planning, Inc., Columbia, South Carolina FRANK E. MULLER-KARGER, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg JOAN OLTMAN-SHAY, NorthWest Research Associates, Inc., Bellevue, Washington ROBERT T. PAINE, University of Washington, Seattle S. GEORGE H. PHILANDER, Princeton University, New Jersey RAYMOND W. SCHMITT, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachussets FRED N. SPIESS, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California DANIEL SUMAN, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Florida
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana Staff SUSAN ROBERTS, Director DAN WALKER, Scholar CHRISTINE BLACKBURN, Program Officer ANDREAS SOHRE, Financial Associate SHIREL SMITH, Administrative Coordinator JODI BOSTROM, Research Associate NANCY CAPUTO, Research Associate SARAH CAPOTE, Senior Program Assistant PHILLIP LONG, Program Assistant
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana Preface The first Europeans to arrive in the Louisiana coastal area found an environment of fertile lands rich in natural resources, including fish, shrimp, and fur-bearing animals. Alterations, including construction of levees and constraining the Mississippi River, rendered this system even more agriculturally productive, suitable for habitation, and efficient for navigation. While much of the habitation developed on natural levees, the lowlands yielded bountiful crops of sugar and other valuable agricultural products. Navigation to the nation’s heartland through the vast Mississippi River and its tributaries contributed further to the economic vitality of this region. The discovery of petroleum in 1901 provided additional economic stimulus to the region. Today, the harvest of seafood and the unique mix of cultures fuel a significant tourism industry. Ironically, many of the alterations and activities carried out to increase the general productivity and attractiveness of this region and to exploit its natural resources have contributed to the rapid wetland losses that are the subject of this study. Levees have reduced the deposition of nutrient-rich sediments on areas now in agricultural production, and jetties direct the sediments into deep water that once nourished marshes and barrier islands. Canals cut through marshes for petroleum exploration and for access to production facilities have led to continued degradation of the wetlands, and extraction of hydrocarbons is believed to have augmented the natural subsidence rates. Introduction of nutria has resulted in increased wetland grazing. Finally, constraining the Mississippi River to not allow its natural switching has resulted in a system that is more desirable for navigation but one counter to the natural cycle required for maintaining the net wetland area.
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana The State of Louisiana and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been aware of the high rates of wetland loss for many years; both have been active in efforts to arrest this loss. In addition to scientific investigations to understand the problem, concerted political efforts commenced in the 1960s that culminated in the passage of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act and the further development of plans to arrest or reduce high wetland losses. The present study focused on a near-term plan, a 10-year, $1.9 billion, scaled-down version of the more comprehensive plan (30-year, $13 billion). Broadly, the committee’s charge was to assess the economic, engineering, ecological, and social viability of the near-term effort and its value to the nation. This near-term plan is unique in several respects: (1) the vast geographic extent of the coastal Louisiana area (31,080 km2 [12,000 mi2]), (2) the pervasiveness of the processes affecting wetland loss, and (3) the amount of background material that has been developed pertinent to an understanding of the wetland loss problem. The committee and I are indebted to the staff of the Ocean Studies Board for their valuable services and willingness to fill any need ranging from arrangements for the meetings to report editorial services to obtaining additional needed background material. They truly made the efforts of the committee members more enjoyable and productive. Dr. Dan Walker served as program manager for the latter half of the study after Dr. Joanne Bintz departed for other employment. Douglas George was a great help during his tenure as a National Research Council intern with the Ocean Studies Board. We are especially appreciative of Ms. Jodi Bostrom who provided day-to-day support to the committee and, through her broad talents and can-do attitude, ensured that the committee activities were responded to promptly and that unforeseen needs at committee meetings were met. Without the editorial efforts of the staff, this report would be redundant and lack overall flow from topic to topic. As a final note, the tragedy wreaked on coastal Louisiana by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita occurred after this committee had completed their meetings and after development of a final draft report. Certainly, if this sequence had been different, this report would have had a somewhat different focus. Subsequent to these hurricanes, the committee revisited the thrust of this report relating to our statement of task and recommendations pertaining to wetlands, and it was determined that these previously developed recommendations still applied. It is the hope of the committee that this report will contribute to an understanding of the overall benefits of coastal wetlands and associated levees and barrier islands (not just storm protection) and the urgency of addressing the rapid land loss in coastal Louisiana. Robert Dean, Committee Chair
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana Acknowledgments This report was greatly enhanced by participants at the four public meetings held as part of this study. The committee would like first to acknowledge the efforts of those who gave presentations at these meetings: Jack C. Caldwell; Thomas Campbell; Ellis J. (Buddy) Clairain, Jr.; James Coleman; Troy Constance; James Cowan, Jr.; Mark Davis; John Day, Jr.; Gerry Duszynski; Sherwood Gagliano; Karen Gautreaux; Bill Good; James (Randy) Hanchey; Jimmy Johnston; Richard Kesel; Irv Mendelssohn; King Milling; Robert Morton; Shea Penland; Jon Porthouse; Denise Reed; John Saia; Greg Steyer; Greg Stone; Joseph Suhayda; and Robert Twilley. These talks helped set the stage for fruitful discussions in the closed sessions that followed. The committee is also grateful to a number of people who provided important discussion and/or material for this report: Len Bahr, Windell Curole, Oliver Harmar, Harry Roberts, Robin Rorick, Mark Schleifstein, Kerry St. Pé, Bill Streever, Colin Thorne, and Jeff Williams. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana LINDA K. BLUM, University of Virginia, Charlottesville DONALD F. BOESCH, University of Maryland, Cambridge LEON E. BORGMAN, University of Wyoming, Laramie VIRGINIA R. BURKETT, U.S. Geological Survey, Many, Louisiana CHERYL K. CONTANT, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta ROBERT FROSCH, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts ELVIN R. HEIBERG III, Heiberg Associates, Inc., Arlington, Virginia PORTER HOAGLAND III, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts WILLIAM F. MARCUSON III, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (retired), Vicksburg, Mississippi NORMAN H. SLEEP, Stanford University, Stanford, California PETER R. WILCOCK, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Frank Stillinger, Princeton University, and Gregory Baecher, University of Maryland. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 13 History and Causes of Land Loss in Louisiana, 14 History of Coastal Protection in Louisiana, 17 LCA Study, 23 Origin and Scope of the Current Study, 25 2 THE HISTORIC AND EXISTING LOUISIANA COASTAL SYSTEMS 29 The Modern, Anthropogenically Modified River and Delta, 32 The Future Louisiana Coastal System, 42 3 CONFLICTS AND LIMITATIONS TO ACHIEVING GOALS 43 Land Loss Patterns and Proposed Sediment Distribution, 44 Stakeholders with Conflicting Interests, 46 Increasing the Success of the LCA Study’s Implementation, 59 4 PLANS AND EFFORTS AT RESTORING COASTAL LOUISIANA 63 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act, 64 Coast 2050, 69 Reconnaissance-Level Report, 72
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana Draft LCA Comprehensive Study, 73 LCA Study, 79 Implementation of the LCA Study: Organization, Duration, and Funding, 80 Relationship of Coast 2050 and the LCA Study to CWPPRA Projects and Experience, 84 Improving Ongoing Restoration Efforts, 85 5 THE LCA STUDY PLANNING APPROACH, MODELING, AND PROJECT SELECTION PROCESS 87 Context for Planning, 88 Role of Models in the Planning and Adaptive Management of the LCA Study Planning Process, 91 Project Selection and the Link with Modeling, 101 The Improved Modeling and Project Selection Process, 111 6 THE LCA STUDY AND THE FEASIBILITY OF ITS COMPONENTS 115 The Five Major Restoration Features, 118 Other Elements of the LCA Study, 120 Adaptive Management, 123 Proposed Management Approaches, 125 Feasibility, 126 Some Considerations for Long-Term Projects, 133 Enhancing the Feasibility of the Overall Approach, 138 7 CRITICAL KNOWLEDGE GAPS 145 Wetland Loss Causal Factors and Rates, 146 Engineering Knowledge Gaps, 149 Hydrologic Knowledge Gaps, 151 Wetland Formation Knowledge Gaps, 154 Societal Knowledge Gaps, 154 Ecological Knowledge Gaps, 156 Addressing Gaps in the Existing Knowledge Base, 158 8 FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 161 Soundness of Approach and Performance Metrics, 162 Addressing Knowledge Gaps, 166 Understanding Costs and Benefits, 169 Economic Justification, 170 Developing a Comprehensive Plan, 172
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Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana REFERENCES 177 APPENDIXES A Committee and Staff Biographies 185 B Acronyms and Abbreviations 189
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