Coastal Desk

Southeast Louisiana is sinking under the waves faster than any coastal landscape in the world. With so much at stake for Louisiana and the nation, WWNO has made coastal news a priority.

Since mid-2014 our Coastal Desk reporting team has been producing frequent news reports and in-depth features covering coastal erosion and restoration; hurricane protection; offshore energy and other coastal businesses; wildlife and fisheries impacts; and coastal communities and culture.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

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Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

South Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish has low unemployment — there are lots of jobs in offshore services. So many that there could be a shortage of locals with the skills needed. The Working Coast summer camp in Houma teaches kids about the big industries in their area, and aims to get them excited about those career paths.

About 30 kids hang their fishing poles over a small bridge outside the Water Life Museum in Houma, Louisiana. They’re enjoying their last day at the Working Coast Camp.

Jesse Hardman / WWNO

The face of coastal erosion in Louisiana is often defined by the most visibly threatened communities. Towns that are literally trying to determine how long they have before they might have to move. And while there’s few people calling on New Orleans residents to start making Plan B’s, some local leaders are trying to get their constituents to be more aware. 

Ron Knight / Flickr

The 2010 BP Oil Spill ruined the Cat Island bird sanctuary, a pelican nesting site. Plaquemines Parish got initial funds to restore the island, but has failed to raise the rest needed. Now, the project leader is starting restoration anyway.

Jesse Hardman / WWNO

This spring a state committee approved $477 million for coastal protection and restoration. When you throw in federal dollars, and private funding as well, fixing Louisiana's coast is becoming big business.

Here are some of the people who stand to benefit.

Deep in St. Bernard Parish’s Lake Athanasio, a construction crew is hard at work. Ben Leblanc is standing on a floating barge, overseeing his troops who are knee deep in marsh, battling enormous horse flies.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

A group of environmentalists are walking 100 miles from Grand Isle to Baton Rouge, along Louisiana Highway 1. They’re protesting Governor Jindal’s signing of Senate Bill 469, which blocked a New Orleans levee board lawsuit against oil and gas companies.

The members hail from around Louisiana. They want Gulf residents to be more aware of decisions made in Baton Rouge that impact their coastal communities.

Jesse Hardman / WWNO

A consortium of environmental and industry stakeholders are making concrete reefs on the Gulf Coast in an attempt to create new oyster habitats. The Lake Athanasio project covers a half a mile of St. Bernard Parish coastline, and seeks to satisfy coastal restoration and commercial interests by giving oysters a sustainable habitat to mature.

Tyler Ortego developed the engineering concept behind the artificial reefs.

Eve Troeh / WWNO

The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle of today is what is called a “ghost swamp”. Until the 1960s, it was a full of cypress trees, part of the central wetlands system that ran from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lake Borgne. But destructive forces — from levee and canal construction to invasive species — turned this freshwater swamp into a saltwater marsh, killing all the cypress trees in the process. You see their dead trunks like scarecrows in the water, and don’t see much else.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle of today is what is called a “ghost swamp”. Until the 1960s, it was a full of cypress trees, part of the central wetlands system that ran from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lake Borgne. But destructive forces — from levee and canal construction to invasive species — turned this freshwater swamp into a saltwater marsh, killing all the cypress trees in the process. You see their dead trunks like scarecrows in the water, and don’t see much else.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle of today is what is called a “ghost swamp”. Until the 1960s, it was a full of cypress trees, part of the central wetlands system that ran from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lake Borgne. But destructive forces — from levee and canal construction to invasive species — turned this freshwater swamp into a saltwater marsh, killing all the cypress trees in the process. You see their dead trunks like scarecrows in the water, and don’t see much else.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle of today is what is called a “ghost swamp.” Until the 1960s, it was a full of cypress trees, part of the central wetlands system that ran from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lake Borgne. But destructive forces — from levee and canal construction to invasive species — turned this freshwater swamp into a saltwater marsh, killing all the cypress trees in the process. You see their dead trunks like scarecrows in the water, and don’t see much else.

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