If there’s one thing most Louisianans agree on, it is this: the value and necessity of restoring and protecting our coast.

For decades, we’ve taught our schoolchildren about the dire land loss crisis we face as a state. And for the first time, our coastal program is making major, tangible progress in our fight to restore much of what’s been lost.

During my second inaugural address, I made the declaration that over the next four years, we will break ground on projects that will restore more land than we expect to lose.

While the majority of CPRA’s master plan includes coastal restoration projects that are accomplished through dredging, the cornerstone of the plan calls for sediment diversion projects that will reconnect the river to the basins it once nourished. These diversions serve the dual purpose of protecting our existing projects and investments while building a natural storm surge buffer along our coast.

Land created by sediment diversions will also sustain our massive marsh creation projects and protect our formidable hurricane protection systems — systems that are being tested like never before. Additionally, the wetlands built by the projects in our state’s most depleted basins will provide greater protection from storms for some of our most vulnerable communities.

The first of those sediment diversions projects is the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion. This is not just a lifeline for an ecosystem nearing collapse, but a necessary protection for the residents, businesses, and the irreplaceable culture that populates every mile of our coastal and inland regions. The project is a commitment to future generations who, without our immediate action, will face “unsurvivable” conditions with increasing frequency.

While we have made and will continue to make massive strides through dredging, it cannot address the extent of the problems we’re facing. This process, while effective in building land, doesn’t sustain itself long-term and results in a continuous need for more time, money, and sediment to sustain these projects.

We have a unique opportunity as a result of the Deepwater Horizon settlement dollars that are coming to our state over the next 15 years. We simply cannot afford to squander it on projects that have short life spans. It is imperative that we to prioritize projects that will continue to work for decades after they’re built. We must also prioritize science and minimize the role of politics.

This is about the survival of our state — and the people of Louisiana deserve forward-thinking leadership and the peace of mind that decisions are being made to protect them today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.

John Bel Edwards is governor of Louisiana.

Billy Nungesser: Oppose the Barataria diversion, use other methods to protect coast