coastal restoration

St. Bernard Parish from the air.
Jesse Hardman

A coalition of wetlands restoration advocates are using the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to push their cause, rebuilding marsh along the Mississippi Delta. The MRGO Must Go Coalition wants to remind local residents that Hurricane Katrina’s impact was largely due to environmental degradation caused by private and public entities.

In a lush green bayou a little southeast of New Orleans, John Lopez and Howard Callahan are cruising the waterways in an airboat under the hot Louisiana sun on a recent day.

It's an area known as Breton Basin, and Callahan is a local land manager who often helps researchers such as Lopez explore environmental changes in coastal wetlands. The pair head to a concrete and steel structure that separates the bayou from the nearby Mississippi River.

Eve Abrams

Wetland Resources plants hurricane resistant trees to protect Louisiana’s coastline.

Demetra Kandalepas is a senior scientist at Wetland Resources. We’re on the way to visit their bald cypress and tupelo nursery. It’s in the middle of a marsh. We drive down a muddy path next to a huge, raised pipe.

Recycled Christmas Trees Used To Build Up Land In Bayou Sauvage

Apr 30, 2015
Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

Who's still thinking about Christmas in spring? The New Orleans Department of Sanitation, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Guard. This generation-long partnership comes together for the annual Christmas tree drop. Christmas trees are picked up curbside after the new year, packaged into bundles, and dropped via helicopter into a local wetlands area to build back land mass. The National Guard uses it as a training exercise, and the nearby wildlife refuge Bayou Sauvage gets a coastal restoration project.

As the five-year anniversary approaches later this month of the BP oil spill, the Environmental  Defense Fund is gearing up for monitoring how restoration money is used to repair damage.

The Restore Act sets aside 80 percent of the still-undetermined billions of dollars in fines BP will be ordered to pay in Clean Water Act fines.

Some projects are already drawing critics. The Gulf Restoration Network is suing to block the money from being used for an Alabama convention center.

Natalie Peyronnin is director of science policy for the Environmental Defense Fund.

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