And with Easter comes springtime, if only for a few weeks, if that, in our south Louisiana climes.
And with springtime comes flooding, not just from local rains, but from the ice and snow accumulated in the dozens of states the Mississippi River drains for the past four months.
And with those floodwaters carried by “The Father of Waters” for thousands of years comes Louisiana: We live on land built by the Mississippi River, and most of the people who live in our state are within an hour’s drive from one of the great rivers on Planet Earth.
How much of Louisiana’s wealth, culture and heritage comes from this river, and how much of our history is directly related to this river are questions with easy answers.
The biggest question we face today is how much of our future is dependent on this river.
The answer lies in asking more questions, ones that, too, have easy answers.
If you starve animals, including us, of water and food, what happens?
If you starve a fire of oxygen, or fuel, what happens?
So, what happens if you starve our Mississippi River delta of its lifeblood, the sediment that travels with floodwaters, and has for thousands of years?
And that’s what’s happening in the eastern half of our coast: It’s dying.
A national obsession over flooding has leveed this river, thereby denying our marshes of its annual deposits of invigorating sediment.
Couple that an undying penchant for boosting our nation’s economy on this vital waterway route that led to decisions about navigation that have further reduced what was a natural formation of lands that made Louisiana so attractive to so many different American, European and Asian cultures so many different times for so many hundreds of years.
The debate rages today over projects in Louisiana’s State Master Plan for coastal restoration and protection about opening the Mississippi River to allow sediment to begin redepositing over areas long-starved for soils and clays that built where we live.
These diversion projects will displace some of the activities that have fed families, provided food for the best restaurants in the world, fueled local economies, and afforded us countless hours of recreational activities for decades.
What needs to be answered is what will these diversions replace, not displace?
It’s easy for one or another group to cry about short-term inconveniences, when the long-term solutions could bring us back to a position where our coastal marshes can protect us from hurricanes, storm surges and what appears to be a years-in-the-future battle with sea-level rise.
We need the Mississippi River to do what it’s done for thousands of year. We need it to build our future.