Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced the dedication of $60 million in Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) funds that will enable several coastal protection and restoration projects in Southeast Louisiana to proceed quickly. The funds being reallocated are left over from other CIAP projects that came in under budget or that have been delayed by the Corps of Engineers.
Governor Jindal said, "We have invested an unprecedented total of more than $1.7 billion to date in coastal projects across our state, and we must do even more to protect our people and our businesses from the threat of coastal erosion and hurricanes. Rather than continue to wait on the Corps of Engineers, we are pleased that we can now prioritize $60 million to immediately begin work on new projects. After four hurricanes in three years and the BP oil spill, it is imperative that we do everything we can to restore our coast and get to work on hurricane protection projects that will help lessen the impact of future storms."
Terrebonne Parish President Michel H. Claudet said, "This announcement sends a strong statement to the residents and businesses of Terrebonne Parish that we understand our coastal challenges and we are now proposing solutions. I want to thank the Governor as well as our legislative delegation for leading the way on this and the many other projects that are critically needed to restore our coast and protect our people."
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said, "The coastal announcement today is another example of parishes coming together and Louisiana speaking with one voice to protect our citizens and restore our coast. I appreciate Governor Jindal's leadership to improve the resiliency of our state."
St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro said, "St. Bernard Parish is pleased to once again partner with the state in developing an expedited way to address some of our most pressing coastal needs. With an anticipated lack of federal funding for the MRGO Ecosystem projects this opportunity to reprogram CIAP funds for immediate use is forward thinking and allows critical projects to be achieved in St. Bernard Parish and along the Louisiana coast."
Lafourche Parish President Randolph said, "When the Governor and state coastal officials recognized surplus money in this coastal fund, they immediately focused on the epicenter of coastal land loss - Lafourche Parish. This allocation will allow for additional fresh water to flow through Bayou Lafourche, providing a more secure drinking water source and nourishing marshes along the way. We in Lafourche appreciate Gov. Jindal's continuing efforts to address this very serious problem."
Executive Director Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Steven Peyronnin said, "The reallocation of CIAP funding is a clear and appropriate reminder that the programs, policies and projects needed to restore our coast must be as dynamic as the landscape we are trying to restore."
Cynthia Duet, Director of Governmental Relations for the National Audubon Society in Louisiana said, "The CIAP program shows that Louisiana and its coastal parishes can quickly and effectively implement projects when both a plan and funding are in place. We at the National Audubon Society are especially pleased by today's announcement of funding for the Coastal Forest Conservation Initiative, which will enable much-needed conservation of Louisiana's precious but disappearing natural resources, and the Mississippi River Delta Study, which will enhance the understanding of river dynamics to help Louisiana design a safer, more productive future for its communities, wildlife, ecosystems, and industries."
Keith Ouchley, Executive Director for The Nature Conservancy, Louisiana, said, "We commend the state for reprogramming these CIAP dollars rather than losing the opportunity to proceed with important coastal restoration initiatives. We are especially pleased to see an additional investment in the Coastal Forestry Conservation Initiative (CFCI). The first round of the CFCI was a big success, with more applications than funding available. We also saw the value of conservation easements as a cost efficient tool, allowing for many more acres to be conserved for the amount of funding available. We know that coastal forests provide a number of important ecosystem services, including storm protection for coastal communities. It makes good sense to conserve important areas rather than paying more for restoration later. We also are encouraged by the investment in the Mississippi River Study, which will hopefully put us in a position to take advantage of the sediment and freshwater resources in the River, and be able to use future high water events to rebuild our coast."
John Walther, Habitat Chairman for the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana said, "We applaud Governor Jindal and his leadership team for today's announcement and their work on these important and innovative coastal projects. Using alternative materials for habitat enhancement, reef building and shoreline protection is a proven and effective method, and we look forward to more projects like these in the future."
Governor Jindal announced $60 million in funding for six projects:
* Living Shorelines and Shoreline Stabilization Demonstration - $26.5 million. Up to 21 miles of bio-engineered oyster reef will be installed in the coastal fringe marsh of St. Bernard Parish from Eloi Point to the mouth of Bayou La Loutre around Lydia Point and Paulina Point - extending around the southern shore of Treasure Bay. Approximately $2.5 million will be used for shoreline protection in Jefferson and Plaquemines Parish. This project is expected to mitigate wind-wave induced shoreline erosion while providing additional fishery habitat.
* Mississippi River Water Reintroduction into Bayou Lafourche - $20 million. Bayou Lafourche was cut off from the flow of the Mississippi River in 1903 and partially reconnected to the river in the 1950s with the installation of a siphon station. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were subject to a boil advisory as a result of Hurricane Gustav's impact on the bayou. This funding allows for the phase two of the project to proceed. The Bayou Lafourche project will dredge the bayou and increase the flow of water into the bayou at its old intersection with the Mississippi River at Donaldsonville, directing additional fresh water to marshes located further south in Lafourche and Terrebonne areas. This commitment is in addition to the $24 million previously committed by Governor Jindal and the CPRA and the $3 million in CDBG funds recently dedicated to pump refurbishment.
* Mississippi River Delta Management Strategic Planning - $5 million. This funding is for an evaluation of improved management for fresh water, nutrients, and sediment resources of the Lower Mississippi River, from the Old River Control Structure to Head of Passes. This evaluation will focus on increasing the land building capability of sediments from the Mississippi River while maintaining deep draft navigation of the river.
* Coastal Forest Conservation Initiative -- $4 million. This project involves acquiring land rights on coastal forest tracts from willing landowners to facilitate conservation, restoration and enhancement of forest sustainability by implementing small-scale projects, and to facilitate wetland assimilation projects that contribute to coastal forest sustainability. Coastal forests are an important natural barrier to hurricanes. Governor Jindal previously committed another $16.2 million in CIAP funds toward this initiative.
* Falgout Canal Freshwater Enhancement - $3.3 million. This project will include the addition of water control structures to serve as tidal and storm surge back flow prevention measures. The structures will be constructed through the proposed levee on the south side of Falgout Canal Road in order to allow freshwater to flow unimpeded by the levee. This project is part of the Morganza system and will help to ensure that the Morganza to the Gulf project protects the citizens of Terrebonne and Lafourche while allowing for freshwater to continue to nourish the wetlands.
* Atchafalaya Long Distance Sediment Pipeline (Feasibility Analysis & Constructability Review) - $750,000. This funding will support the design of a long distance sediment pipeline for moving sediments dredged from the Port of Morgan City's Channel Maintenance Program (from the Berwick Bay Area of the Atchafalaya River to the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel Area) and other available sources from the Atchafalaya Basin eastward into the critical sediment deficient marshes of central and eastern Terrebonne. The Barataria-Terrebonne basin is sediment starved, and this project together with the Bayou Lafourche project will help get sediment and freshwater back into these areas.
Grant applications for the projects the Governor announced today must be submitted to the Department of the Interior for approval before the CIAP funds are released for each project. The state will soon begin a 30-day comment period, which is required before submitting project plans to Interior. The CIAP Plan will be available online and information for submitting comments will be posted at Coastal.Louisiana.Gov.
The CIAP provides funding to oil producing states and their coastal subdivisions to mitigate damage and negative impacts caused by oil and gas production on the Outer Continental Shelf. CIAP will provide approximately $496 million to Louisiana. Thirty-five percent of these funds go to 19 coastal parishes and 65 percent go to the state. Projects funded with this money include those for marsh rebuilding, the restoration of barrier islands, and decreasing potential damage to fish, wildlife and other natural resources.