Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Coastal restoration now!

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita converted 118 square miles of coastal marsh into open water, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report.

The Times-Picayune:

"[That's] equivalent to more than 73,000 football fields, or almost twice the size of Washington, D.C.

Plaquemines Parish suffered the worst losses -- more than 57 square miles in Breton Sound and near the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to USGS geographer John Barras. ...

Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost an estimated 1,900 square miles of its coastal marshes to oil and gas exploration, saltwater intrusion, rising sea levels and land subsidence. Yet never before has the damage been so great within such a short period of time, according to USGS ecologist Greg Steyer with the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette.

In recent years, wetlands losses had averaged 24 square miles a year -- about one-fifth of Katrina and Rita's toll.


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