The new leader of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority informed state board members of his priorities during a monthly coastal meeting Wednesday.
The priorities include the wise spending of funds from a Deepwater Horizon settlement while continuing the push to minimize the damage caused by land erosion on coastal communities and the state’s ecosystem.
“We have to have good science — it’s critical — but at some point, we have to make a decision,” Johnny Bradberry, executive assistant to the governor for coastal activities, told the agency’s board.
Other priorities include encouraging more innovative thinking, improving relationships with other agencies, reviewing contracts for coastal work and finalizing how the state will go forward with river diversions.
River diversions would move some sediment and fresh water from the Mississippi River into wetland areas to help build additional land. The idea, long discussed as a way to build land along the coast, would mimic the natural processes that built south Louisiana. Some have argued that there isn’t enough sediment to do any good; others have said there is plenty available for restoration projects.
Some fishermen say these large diversions will destroy fisheries in coastal Louisiana, while others say it will do nothing harmful and actually benefit the fisheries.
The state coastal board voted in October to move forward with planning on two of the many diversions that have been proposed — near Myrtle Grove and White Ditch — using money from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
“Diversions are very sensitive issues,” Bradberry said. “You’re talking about projects that will change the landscape.”
Bradberry said he was committed to accelerating the research on diversions to either move them forward or discard the idea. After the meeting, he explained that he meant that he was reviewing the scientific work that had been done on diversions and that he was still learning.
“I believe personally that diversions are the way to go,” Bradberry said. He added: “Finalizing a clear path forward on diversions is a high priority for us.”
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