Johnny Bradberry

Johnny Bradberry

Like nearly everyone living in south Louisiana, my life has been punctuated by natural disasters. Who would have thought that the young man who had to walk back to Grand Isle after Hurricane Betsy to find his childhood home destroyed would one day serve in the Office of the Governor?

When I headed the Department of Transportation and Development under Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Hurricane Katrina provided a professional test equal to or greater than the personal test of Betsy.

It was those pivotal years after Katrina that opened the door for me to once again return to state government as Gov. John Bel Edwards’ executive assistant for coastal activities and chair of Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, a job I sadly bid farewell to in the New Year.

Our work at CPRA has been among the most important, rewarding and outright challenging work of my life. It has been a blessing and a responsibility not taken lightly to get to work every day on this issue. Our duty is to protect, preserve, restore and pass down the very best that Louisiana has to offer: the people, food, folkways, celebrations and places that make Louisiana home for us, and a cultural beacon for the rest of the nation, an energy and industry powerhouse and a tourist destination for millions each year.

Louisiana stands prepared and confident with a governance structure and science-based Coastal Master Plan that integrates ecosystem restoration and hurricane protection under a single state-led voice. But this fantastic structure could not have been successful without a tremendous staff. Since its inception, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has been outfitted with a devoted workforce who have consistently innovated and delivered solutions to complex problems.

Through funding feasts and famine, disasters and near-misses, this dedicated agency has moved dirt, sand, concrete, rock and countless policy hurdles to secure $21.4 billion in funding for the betterment of 46,000 acres of land, 315 miles of levee improvements and 60 miles of barrier island construction. It has been a privilege to be a part of the implementation successes of CPRA, and I look forward to seeing all of the projects we began together come to fruition over the next few years. Coastal Louisiana is safer and more sustainable thanks to the collective work and commitment of CPRA staff and the many others dedicated to the protection and restoration of our coast.

It should also be noted that no project at CPRA gets done alone. Another great gift of my position has been the friendships and collaborations with the many other passionate defenders of our coast. These champions are found in our communities, federal agencies, environmental organizations, the Legislature, on Capitol Hill, in industry groups, the private sector and on both sides of the political aisle. Through master plan updates and project implementation they help us maintain the delicate balance of our working coast. There are too many groups and individuals to name individually, but please know that I know that all of our wins have been yours as well.

As I prepare to leave state government for the private sector, I am provided with one final opportunity to make my mark on our coast and fulfill a life-long dream of running a company. I thank Edwards for his trust and for the countless ways he has supported me and the coastal program these three years. The coast has benefited tremendously from his leadership thus far, and I know there are more good things to come. Our livelihood and our culture depend on it.

Johnny Bradberry has served as chairman of Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

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