A $9.3 million grant has been awarded to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) to increase knowledge of the lower Mississippi River and how large-scale Coastal Master Plan projects will affect the ecosystem, navigation and economic activity.
The grant from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) will fund a large-scale program to continue building the technical knowledge base needed to develop a plan that moves the nation toward a more holistic management scheme for the Lowermost Mississippi River under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act).
Gov. John Bel Edwards remarked, “The Mississippi River is one of Louisiana’s most important natural resources. Not only does it play a significant role in the nation’s economy by facilitating waterborne commerce, but it is also one of the most crucial tools we possess in our fight against coastal land loss. This inter-agency research program will advance the science that will bring us closer to a management regime for the lower river that more completely considers its many vital functions.”
The Lowermost Mississippi River Management Program funded by this grant will advance the science developed under the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Mississippi River Hydrodynamic and Delta Management Study (MRHDMS). It will form the foundation for any future river management analysis by creating an integrated science-based management strategy for the Lowermost Mississippi River to reduce flood risk, provide for a more sustainable deltaic ecosystem, and also improve navigation.
“This project focuses on sustainability of the large-scale ecosystem of the Lowermost Mississippi River while supporting significant economic activity and navigation interests,” said Johnny Bradberry, Chairman of the CPRA Board. “This is exactly the approach of the Coastal Master Plan. This grant will support and advance our goal of having the multiple benefits a sustainable ecosystem provides for a safe, productive and resilient working coast.”
CPRA Executive Director Michael Ellis is excited the program is now ready to kick off. “It is an ambitious program with the important goal of adapting and applying models that have been developed to analyze large-scale ecosystem restoration projects associated with the current alignment of the Mississippi River,” said Ellis. “This will inform decisions for future river management analysis, including alternative channel alignments or management strategies. The “more-holistic management scheme for the Lowermost Mississippi River can both enhance the economic value of the river while also elevating the importance of ecological maintenance and restoration of the landscape through which it flows.”
The premise of this plan is that a sustainable navigation system requires a sustainable coast. As such, this project is designed to result in a plan to enhance ecosystem sustainability in the Mississippi River Deltaic Plain without negatively impacting navigation and flood risk management on the Mississippi River.
This project is one of seven Louisiana projects the RESTORE Council has selected for funding under the Council’s Comprehensive Plan that will directly benefit our coastal area. These include:
The RESTORE Act allocates 80 percent of all Clean Water Act penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill disaster to Gulf Coast restoration activities. The RESTORE Act contains five different funding components. The Council-Selected Restoration Component directs 30 percent of the funds deposited into the Trust Fund to a Gulf-wide Comprehensive Ecosystem Restoration Plan (the “Comprehensive Plan”). The RESTORE Council’s Initial Comprehensive Plan was approved in August 2013.
On December 9, 2015, the RESTORE Council approved an Initial Funded Priorities List which contained a list of the first projects and programs to be funded under the Council’s Initial Comprehensive Plan.
On April 19, 2017, the RESTORE Council voted to amend its Initial Funded Priorities List to make the State of Louisiana the direct recipient of the full funding amount previously approved for the Lowermost Mississippi River Management Program, which originally provided for a 50/50 division of the planning funds to the State of Louisiana and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.