Loss of coastal wetlands in Louisiana was dramatized by the way the Los Angeles Times recently explained it.
“A series of destructive hurricanes—Katrina, Rita, Andrew and Gustav—reversed the trend in recent years [of slower wetland loss], pushing annual losses up to 16.57 square miles per the period 1985-2010, the equivalent of more than one football field per hour.”
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in a recent report noted that the loss of coastal wetland in the state hit a low of 11.7 square miles per year between 1985 to 2004. The losses referenced during 1985 to 2010, extending the period of analysis six years, showed the average loss increased to 16.57 square miles annually.
Both averages are a dramatic improvement over loses in the 1970s of about 40 square miles a year being destroyed by dredging for oil fields, general industrial development, pollution and natural disasters, the Geological Survey report notes.
The numbers being thrown around would make it appear to the average person that there couldn’t be coastal wetlands left, but there is wetland area left and conservation projects such as marsh creation, shoreline protection and sediment dispersal continue.
A geographer at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center, Brady Couvillion, didn’t seem too excited about long-term success in saving wetlands as quoted by the Times newspaper. “‘I’m optimistic that it’s not a run-for-the-hills type of situation. If we really dedicate to coastal protection and restoration, we may be able to have some measured success.’”