Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 4:43pm
Mississippi Water Resources Conference 2017
MSU Nutrient Management Poster from MWRC 2017

This annual Water Resources Conference is hosted by Mississippi State University’s Water Resources Research Institute and provides one of the main ways to keep up with groundwater and surface water issues in the state. It was held at the Jackson Hilton Hotel April 11-12.

Much of the conference’s emphasis was on consumptive groundwater use in the state’s “Delta” region - the center of large scale row-crop commodity agriculture. The Mississippi Alluvial Plain (MAP) aquifer irrigates corn, soybeans and cotton and fills catfish ponds in a cluster of counties in the central Delta. Under this region, a cone of depression and lowered water table exist caused by wide-scale pumping and comparatively slow groundwater recharge.  Several United States Geological Survey scientists addressed this problem.  Ideas set forth to solve overuse of the aquifer include irrigation efficiency, tail-water recovery and on-farm surface storage, constructing weirs (short dams) on local streams to create...

Monday, April 17, 2017 - 12:08pm

Donald BogenName: Donald Bogen, Jr.
Organization: Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)
Hometown: Thibodaux, Louisiana
Parish: Lafourche

Louisiana’s loses a football field of coastal wetlands every hour. Everyday, those who live in our parishes on the coast are visibly confronted with the knowledge that sea level rise, coastal erosion, and intensified storms threaten their homes and their way of life.

In the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, our state has proposed “nonstructural” options
for responding to these threats, including resources for voluntary buyouts from their homes and assistance with floodproofing and elevation. According to the state of Louisiana, if an area would flood more than 14 feet during a 100 year storm event, that area is deemed an unsafe and not resilient community. The state calls these areas “Resettlement Zones.” To ensure that communities are prepared for the future and understand where predicted...

Monday, April 17, 2017 - 11:25am

Comments from the CoastHere in the Gulf, every day our seas are rising, our lands are sinking, and our communities face bigger and bigger flood risks.

In 2017 our communities most at risk are being declared “Resettlement Zones” by the Louisiana Office of Community Development. The recently revised Louisiana Coastal Master Plan has proposed nonstructural options for responding to these threats, including resources for voluntary buyouts from their homes and assistance with floodproofing and elevation. Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) has created a series of maps representing communities that have been declared Resettlement Zones in order to ensure that residents are prepared for the future.

These towns are anchor communities for our fishing industries and our local food production. They are not at the end of the road, they are at the beginning of the water. As the seas have risen, these communities have...

Friday, April 14, 2017 - 12:08pm

In March, Senator Richard Shelby (AL) announced that the funding has been secured for a $9.5 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant program to help improve fishery management in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA will accept proposals from the community on how to better conduct stock surveys, with an emphasis on surveying areas that aren’t currently done by NOAA, such as artificial reefs. The stock assessments will help to give NOAA a better idea as to where we are in the process of rebuilding the red snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing them to make more accurate management decisions moving forward.

This program, championed by Senator Shelby, is an encouraging step toward conservation of our marine ecosystems during a period of uncertainty for our nation’s environmental landscape. Under the extremely successful Magnuson-Stevens Act, almost 100 species have either been rebuilt or are in the process of...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 11:51am

Isle de Jean CharlesLouisiana has a new draft of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. The 2017 plan is focused on improving the ability of Louisiana’s coastal communities to face rising seas and increasing storms. The Master Plan proposes a combination of restoration projects, levees or other structural projects and a “nonstructural” (flood risk reduction) approaches to protect our coastal communities as we face continuing wetlands loss, rising seas, and increasing storms.  

However, many hurricane seasons will come and go before the Master Plan’s restoration, levee and other structural projects are completed. In the meantime, the state must prioritize and fund flood risk reduction programs, such as elevating homes and flood-proofing buildings, in our state’s most at-risk communities.   

Gulf Restoration Network, in coalition with the Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO), Coastal Communities Consulting, Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), Grand Bayou Village Tribe, Oxfam...

Monday, March 13, 2017 - 11:23pm

Last year, GRN and Atchafalaya Basinkeeper commented on an application for coastal restoration that consisted of four dams. How would blocking bayous help coastal marshes?

SM Energy claims that four bayous connecting public Julian Bayou to the Atchafalaya Delta WMA were causing erosion. The solution? Four dams on the offending bayous would abate the erosional forces of Atchafalaya Bay, and save the marsh.  In fact, these bayous were feeding local marshes with healthful sediment, causing an increase in wetlands! A quick review of aerial photography shows that marsh has been growing in this area. This is one of the few areas in coastal Louisiana where we aren't losing land. 


2013 Color-Infrared aerial of the area, with annotations for the bayous that connect the public waters. Each black oval is a dam site. Bayous on private land are in blue. Note that the...

Monday, March 13, 2017 - 1:36pm

Sand Banks of the Atchafalaya Basin

Why is sand needed to restore the coast spent filling the Atchafalaya Basin floodway?

Two weeks ago, GRN went out with Jody Meche of Crawfish Producers West to see how the crawfish-producing lakes of the Atchafalaya Basin have become hills. Instead of  muddy bayous, thick with trees, grit and sand chewed our prop in the shallow waters of Bayou Bristow and Bayou Brown, in the Bayou DesGlaises management area. In some places, feet of sand have filled in the basin relatively quickly. Crawfish traps lie buried under feet of new fill. 

Cypress grove of Bayou Des Glaises
Cypress Grove of Bayou Bristow (note: boat)








Filled Cypress Grove of Tin Can Lake, east of Billy Little's Lake (note: walkable)

Sand Banks...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 2:45pm

Congressman Steven Palazzo of Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District caused great alarm among his constituents when he co-sponsored a bill to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Mississippi’s Fourth District is in a low-lying coastal area.  Wetlands and the riparian areas along the Mississippi coasts’ many estuaries provide critical storm protection to residents.  Irresponsible development threatens these wetlands. Mississippi’s failing sewerage systems leads to constantly closed beaches.  Shrimp, oyster and fish populations are in serious decline.  Dolphin and turtle mortality is at historic levels.  

EPA diver
EPA diver sampling Tippo Bayou near Philipp, MS.
Photo Credit: USEPA

The management of storm water runoff is poorly enforced.

Mississippi’s coast is the main driver of our state’s economy. We need clean, healthy water for thriving tourism and fishing industries. Congressman Palazzo’s support of a bill to eliminate the EPA is bad for Mississippi.

Thankfully, it seems as though...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 4:04pm
Florida Capitol

This guest blog was originally published by Rethink Energy Florida on their blog. Check out their site here

Florida’s 2017 Legislative Session begins March 7th at noon, and we are feeling quite optimistic about it! ReThink Energy Florida is better-prepared than ever to see our legislative agenda move, especially on the important issue of fracking in the State of Florida.

Currently, good fracking-ban bills have been filed in both the House and the Senate. State Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa) has filed SB 442 relating to Advanced Well Stimulation Treatment, and State Representative Mike Miller (R-Orlando) has filed an identical bill in the House, HB 451.

We think it is especially noteworthy that the Sponsors and Co-sponsors of these bills represent a strongly bipartisan coalition of legislators. Clean water is not a partisan issue. We applaud these legislators who were willing to reach across the aisle and present concise and...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 4:03pm

Guest Blogger Patti Dunn is the founder of Tchoup Industries, a New Orleans company that hand-makes backpacks and bags with local and reused materials.

There are always difficult decisions to make in Louisiana when big oil money and jobs directly conflict with our local efforts to slow down land loss and preserve natural habitats. Most of us would love to have our cake and eat it too, which would be a lot easier if oil companies tapping into our gulf could commit to holding up their end of the bargain.

"No where on Earth is there such a living landscape, where 100 acres of new land emerges from the sea. It's this dynamism that makes the River Delta so fertile, and the Gulf so biodiverse. But we have lost so much because companies refuse to clean up their mess, and our government refuses to uphold the law."  
- Scott Eustis, coastal wetland...