Blog Action Day is an annual event, designed to bring writers from around the world together to blog about a common cause. This year's topic is "Water," and what better subject for us to dive into here at Restoration and Resilience! (I promise that was my only pun.)
Coastal Louisiana is defined by water. For thousands of years, the mighty Mississippi River flowed across the delta, depositing fresh water and sediment, building and replenishing coastal wetlands. This process created this diverse landscape that many unique cultures and communities call home. The Mississippi River Delta is the largest coastal delta in the United States and the seventh largest in the world. This immense, complex deltaic ecosystem was created over thousands of years, using the power of water to move sediment and fresh water from 41 percent of the nation to build the delta. Without the river, Louisiana's coast would look more like a sandy beach than the unique, beautiful delta we know today.
Unfortunately, more than a century of national actions to channelize the Mississippi River for transportation and economic development have sent the delta towards ecological collapse. The river is no longer able to flow naturally across the delta plain, thus causing once-thriving freshwater wetlands to starve. Without sediment and fresh water from the river – not to mention increasing sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion – these vital coastal wetlands are deteriorating at the alarming rate of one football field every 45 minutes. The communities, wildlife and industries that rely upon Louisiana's coast are slowly watching their home disappear.
But there is something that can be done.
We at EDF are working to restore the Mississippi River Delta, by reconnecting the river with its coastal wetlands. By reintroducing fresh water and sediment to these starving marshes, Louisiana's coastal ecosystem – and the delta as a whole – can be rebuilt. Using the same natural river processes that first created the delta, we can recreate and restore this vital ecosystem for the people and wildlife who live there, as well as create thousands of new jobs in the process. By reconnecting the river to the wetlands and rebuilding the Mississippi River Delta, we can restore this ecosystem back to the resilient, sustainable system it was, and is meant, to be.