Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 

Rapid Response

Last month 4,200 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf off the coast of Louisiana - dousing the delicate marshes of Barataria Bay in thick, sticky oil.

As soon as Gulf Restoration Network learned of the spill, we leapt into action. With the help of a generous supporter, we were in the air less than 24 hours after the Hilcorp Energy spill was reported - taking photos, documenting the damage, reaching out to state and federal agencies and raising awareness about the latest oil industry harm to our precious coast.

Because of our quick reaction, state and federal agencies are now in motion to hold Hilcorp accountable to clean up the damage. But, we can't do this alone.

Help us respond quickly and strategically to leaks, spills and disasters by donating today to our Rapid Response Fund.

Without the...

 
Louisiana Cypress

We requested it. And we got it. Join us at a public hearing for the proposed Ascension Pipeline, this Thursday in LaPlace.

The Ascension Pipeline would transport natural gas liquids (NGL) from a processing plant to a nearby refinery, streamlining operations for two multibillion-dollar corporations. The proposal threatens over 130 wetland acres. Most is precious Cypress Tupelo swamp.

The wetland destruction would also fall within the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area, an expanse dedicated to preserving nature. Traversing the Maurepas Swamp means crossing the scenic Blind River. With more than 20 pipelines already running under these waters, how many is too many?

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) requires a Coastal Use Permit (CUP) for all coastal developments. Potential projects must offer a Justification Analysis to demonstrate the “public need and demand for the goods and/or services to be provided by the development.” However, pipelines that...

 

Wednesday morning, Gulf Restoration Network and our partners at Waltzer Wiygul & Garside LLC and Vanishing Earth flew over coastal Louisiana, to document the Hilcorp Energy pipeline spill in Barataria Bay. Yesterday, we took a boat and surveyed the sheens and slicks, grasses and birds at water level.

The crude oil leak, which was reported wednesday at 8 square miles, originated in an older pipeline canal and has smothered shoreline marshes at the root, like a heavy coating of poorly applied mascara. Local storms have dispersed sheens that spread out into Barataria Bay; local marshes remain thoroughly gooped. Of the ~8,000 spills in the Gulf with a known volume over the last 5 years, this spill is larger than 90 percent of them.

Barataria Bay was one of the most heavily oiled areas during the BP disaster. The impacts of that disaster broke every...

 

Secretary Melancon, LDWF
                    Secretary Melancon, LDWF

On July 7th, 2016, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) held a public commission meeting to address current issues that the state is managing. Although they discussed a range of topics, the focus was on blue crabs and red snapper.

Biologist Jeff Marx presented the 2016 Louisiana Blue Crab stock assessment, which has shown signs of a decline in the stock, even approaching the threshold of overfishing. In response, LDWF has talked about ways to reduce the number of traps in the water, if only for a short period of time. Currently, their proposition is to close the commercial crab fishery in Louisiana waters beginning on the third Monday in February and extending for 30 consecutive days. The biggest public opposition heard during the...

 
Jackson Mississippi Flood Control Lake Plans Update
Concept map for flood control lake in Pearl River Channel in Jackson

On July 7th WLBT, Channel 3 in Jackson, Mississippi presented a feature about flooding on the Pearl River titled “A River Runs Through It.” The segment  ran on the 10 p.m. news as a “3 On Your Side” special report to update the currently proposed project to dredge and widen the Pearl River though part of Jackson , and install a dam  to create another in-channel lake to control flooding on the Pearl River.


Interviewed for the story were Keith Turner and Dallas Quinn. Turner is a member of the Jackson-based Watkins Eager law firm and is the attorney for the project’s sponsoring agency, the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District (The District). Quinn represents the Pearl River Vision Foundation, the non-profit corporation that has as its sole mission the promotion of this new lake development as an economic development asset for Jackson. Both...

 

We’re beach people. The sun, the sand, the water, the good vibes and happy people—we know we’re biased, but really, is there anything better?

This lifelong love of life by the water has made our yearly decision to partner with the Gulf Restoration Network for Aveda Earth Month an easy one. With locations in Sandestin, Orange Beach, and Pensacola Beach, we are keenly aware of the breathtaking natural beauty of the gulf—and how much is at stake if we fail to adequately protect it. And as Gulf Coast locals and small business owners, we see it as our job to do so.

Many of you all have helped in our Earth Month efforts over the years: attending Cut-a-Thons, purchasing wellness and beauty packages whose proceeds benefit GRN, and spreading the word on social media. And while every Earth Month has been exceptional in its own right, this most recent one...

 

Louisiana Redfish
Photo by: Louisiana Angler

Gulf Fish Forever is a campaign that generates a lot of conversation. Of course, many conversations are about the complexities of fishery management in the Gulf of Mexico.

Commercial anglers, recreational  anglers, chefs and consumers often share the same concerns about our fisheries - how can we manage our marine resources sustainably?

“Sustainability” is a key concern for all parties involved in the discussion about Gulf fishery management. Sustainability is a word that holds such a vague definition in the world of environmental advocacy that it has become virtually ineffective. At first, the word  is satisfying to hear, until one realizes the vastness of its use. What does sustainability actually  mean?

In order to get a better idea of what sustainability means to those using the term professionally, I spoke with staff at Gulf Restoration Network.
...

 
The Pearl River Basin, seen from above

The Louisiana State Legislature did something this month. And it will actually benefit community members! Thanks to a bill introduced by freshwoman Senator Beth Mizell, residents of Washington Parish will no longer have to fear the Washington Parish Reservoir District.

Established in 2003 for the sole purpose of developing a reservoir, this ‘special district’ has long planned to dam the Bogue Lusa Creek. The Bogue Lusa flows into the Pearl River, eventually into the Gulf. Suffocating the Bogue Lusa would stifle the Pearl’s flow and flood over a thousand acres of wetland forest, habitat that’s rich in biodiversity and hard to recreate. Like all wetlands, these acres buffer wind speeds, absorb storm surges, and filter freshwater supplies.

This decade-long fight has been about more than just wetlands. Louisiana citizens have called the reservoir site home for generations. Were a reservoir ever to materialize, it would flood countless...

 

Taylor Energy LeakYesterday, Gulf Restoration Network and Southwings flew over coastal Louisiana, documenting the continuing Taylor oil leak 12 miles off the coast of Louisiana and various coastal restoration sites. The Taylor energy site has been leaking since Hurricane Ivan toppled the offshore platform in 2004. The sheen from Taylor extended over an area of about 5 miles by 600 feet wide.

For 12 years, Taylor Energy has polluted the Gulf without being held fully accountable for ongoing harm to Gulf waters and coastal communities, as well as to the dolphins, whales and fish who live there. The continuing Taylor spill is an extreme example of industry harm, but frequent spills and leaks are the norm. Time after time, we see the oil and gas industry unwilling or unable to respond to the destruction...

 

Mayor Landrieu speaking. 

On Friday, June 3rd, members of the GRN staff attended a half-day workshop within the State of the Gulf Conference entitled Restoration on the Half-Shelf: Presentations in Non-Technical Language. 

Organized by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana  (CRCL), The Water Institute of the Gulf, and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA), the new program offered a general history of Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts along with a discussion of current progress and future plans. Broken up into two panels, the first session highlighted the dangers and risks posed by the current land loss crisis while the second session focused on possible community and administrative action. 

To begin the panel discussion “Louisiana’s Coastal Land Loss Crisis,” David Muth, the Director of the Gulf Restoration Program in Louisiana for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), highlighted the various ways in which the...

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