After Katrina - The Environmental Perspective

Environmental Defense staff and members join millions in mourning the tragedy that has affected so many on the Gulf Coast. Right now, the priority is to help families and communities recover.

As environmental professionals, we are reflecting on how to best protect coastal communities from the next storm. There is much we can do.

New Orleans once had miles of wetlands and barrier islands between it and the Gulf of Mexico to protect it from hurricanes. Scientists tell us that every mile of wetlands and marshes between the gulf and terra firma absorbs wind energy and reduces hurricane storm surges by one foot.

And yet, since 1930, over a million acres of wetlands have disappeared from the Mississippi River Delta, and they are still washing away. Great engineering works built for ships and flood control diverted the river's replenishing sediment and freshwater away from the wetlands. Unless some part of the flow of the Mississippi River is directed back into the wetlands to rebuild them, hurricane threats will become more and more dangerous.

Small projects to restore these wetlands have moved forward for fifteen years. But despite warnings by scientists that hurricanes could now destroy New Orleans, the restoration effort has moved slowly and with few funds.

In the next few weeks, Congress will likely provide funds to rebuild devastated communities. When it does, Congress also needs to provide the funds to restore the coastal wetlands so people do not move back into harms way.

As you may have helped the relief effort in other ways, please take a moment and support this critical need to restore Louisiana's wetlands.

Send an email to Congress, asking them to support wetlands restoration as one important way to protect the Gulf Coast from future storms:


See pictures and explanations of how healthy coastal wetlands can help protect the Gulf Coast:



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September 2005

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