Trustees Finalize Plan to Restore Vital Ecosystem Damaged by Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Louisiana’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustee Implementation Group (TIG) released a final restoration plan outlining priorities to repair damages and restore ecosystems in Louisiana’s Barataria Basin following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In addition to being severely impacted by the spill, Barataria Basin has experienced some of the worst land loss in the country, and, without action, the region could lose an additional 550 square miles of land over the next 50 years. The Trustees’ final restoration plan presents a preferred alternative that includes the use of a large-scale sediment diversion in concert with marsh creation and ridge restoration projects to restore deltaic processes and ecosystem health in the basin.

Restore the Mississippi River Delta, a coalition of national and local conservation groups, has long advocated for sediment diversions, including the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, as critical to addressing Louisiana’s land loss crisis and maintaining a healthy, productive ecosystem. In response to the release of the final restoration plan, Restore the Mississippi River Delta issued the following statement:

“After decades of severe environmental challenges, this restoration plan is a significant step toward restoration of the imperiled Barataria Basin ecosystem.

“The NRDA Trustees have wisely identified a suite of restoration projects, including sediment diversions working with marsh creation and ridge restoration, which together will make meaningful headway in repairing damages to habitats injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Louisiana’s coastal areas, including the Barataria Basin, are home to some of the most productive wildlife and fisheries habitat in the nation. Unless we act to restore these ecosystems, we risk losing additional land vital to the health and productivity of a wide range of species, in addition to communities and industry.

“Louisiana’s only hope to sustainably rebuild coastal habitats is to harness the sediment in the Mississippi River. This restoration plan underscores the cost-effectiveness of sediment diversions compared to other restoration projects alone, and the significance of a restored Barataria Basin for the overall health of the entire northern Gulf of Mexico.

“We are hopeful that the plan’s recommendation will position the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion and other key restoration projects for funding for construction in the near future.”

In addition to the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, another project evaluated by the Trustees, Large-Scale Barataria Marsh Creation, is also included in Restore the Mississippi River Delta’s list of priority restoration projects.

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