2017 Coastal Master Plan preview meeting set for next Tuesday in Gonzales

CPRA presentation begins at 6:15 p.m. at Cabela’s

Sediment diversions. Dredging. Levees. Floodgates.

All of these options and more will likely be mentioned as potential elements of Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan, which will be discussed at a meeting next Tuesday evening, Oct. 25, at Cabela’s in Gonzales.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Coastal Conservation Association-Louisiana and Ducks Unlimited are sponsoring the event, which will begin at 6:15 p.m. with a presentation from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, followed by a Q & A session starting at 6:35. Food and drinks will be served starting at 5:30.

“Folks will get a chance to see some of the projects that are being proposed, where they’ll be located, and how the next master plan envisions using the Mississippi River both as a source of materials through diversions, and as a source of dredged material,” said Chris Macaluso, marine fisheries director for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “I think you’ll get an idea on the types of projects the state has built, and what’s a realistic expectation of what can be done in the future.

“Frankly, some of these projections for the next 50 years are pretty sobering, so it’s going to be an opportunity to get some insight as to what the future of this coast is going to look like, and what the realistic opportunities are for being able to fix some of our wetland loss problems and to see if we can’t make this place sustainable for the long term.”

Macaluso said the master plan is revised only every five years, with the process slated to start up again in January.

“I think what you’re going to see is a push for some non-structural protection, more so than we’ve seen in the past, including elevating homes and trying to storm-proof businesses,” he said. “I think you’re going to see some infrastructure improvements, some levees and floodgates, and finishing up some of those projects.

“And I think what you’re going to see is using borrow sites in the Mississippi River to build wetlands, and having those wetlands work in conjunction with diversions.”

The plan ultimately finalized in 2017 for the next five years will be especially important, considering the combination of subsidence and sea level rise being experienced along Louisiana’s coast, he said.

“It’s not a pretty picture,” he said. “Some of these places below New Orleans and around Houma and the Barataria Basin, you’re looking at a a projected combination — between land loss and sea level rise — of water being 4 to 6 feet higher in 50 years than it is now.”

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Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.