Lower 9th Ward rally focuses on lost wetlands

From Nola.com:

Marking the start of the 2009 hurricane season on Monday, elected officials and environmental leaders gathered in the Lower 9th Ward to applaud the closing of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and encourage residents to continue demanding that the Army Corps of Engineers restore coastal wetlands.

Hosted by MR-GO Must Go, a coalition of environmental and community organizations, the “Rally For Restoration” was both a celebration of the past year’s successes and a reminder of the enormous work to be done in rebuilding Louisiana’s strongest line of defense against future storms, healthy coastal wetlands.

The rally was held at the base of the levee along Florida Avenue that separates the Lower 9th Ward from the Bayou Bienvenue Cypress Triangle, an overflow swamp dotted with dead cypress trees. Saltwater intrusion caused by the MR-GO killed those trees, along with more than 27,000 acres of wetlands, said Amanda Moore with the National Wildlife Federation.

The loss of wetlands, which act as a natural buffer against storms, increased storm surge during Hurricane Katrina, with the MR-GO helping to funnel the surge into the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Industrial Canal, where it caused multiple levee breaches.

The corps formally agreed to seal off the MR-GO with a rock dam in December, and its construction is nearly done.

“Right now, as we speak, the MR-GO is being closed, ” Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis said. “That would not have happened if people had not consistently, collectively and courageously raised their voices.”

The channel’s closure, however, is just the first step, speakers said. Under the 2007 Water Resources Development Act, Congress authorized the corps to study possible wetlands restoration projects, calling for its completion by May 2008. The study has yet to be finished.

“Their deadline keeps slipping, so that’s why we’re asking people to stay involved and hold the corps accountable, ” Moore said.

Beth Galante, executive director of the New Orleans arm of the nonprofit Global Green, said: “All of us here today who have been working so hard in our communities . . . know for a fact that all our efforts will be wasted if the Corps of Engineers does not stand up and restore the wetlands.”

Clarkson said she had recently returned from a five-day trip to the Netherlands with Sen. Mary Landrieu, corps officials and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, where they visited wetlands that had been successfully reconstituted.

“We told (the corps officials) repeatedly, ‘This is what New Orleans will do, ‘ ” Clarkson said. “The Dutch reclaimed their wetlands. They reclaimed their freshwater from saltwater. And if they can do it, we can do it.”

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~ by vermilionaire on June 5, 2009.

2 Responses to “Lower 9th Ward rally focuses on lost wetlands”

  1. hey this is amanda moore (from story above). would like to get in touch adn see how/if we can collaborate. moorea@nwf.org

  2. I have seen the destruction first hand. Took some photos of the levees and the marshes. I think there are conflicting interests
    over this land.

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