Graves did well as head of CPRA

February 14, 2014 at 1:41 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

After fighting to preserve and restore the diminishing coast of Louisiana for years, the person who led those efforts has resigned effective Feb. 17.

Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Chairman Garret Graves brought us together to help develop extensive plans for those efforts. Gov. Bobby Jindal said that “after years of repetitive studies from the federal government, wasteful spending, bureaucracy and red tape, Graves helped transform the state’s coastal restoration and hurricane protection program into one that promises to restore much of the land lost in the last century.”

The 50-year plan for coastal restoration of Louisiana that Graves helped develop, completed in 2012, is the hope for the future of our state’s coast. It will provide water and sediment diversions scientifically determined to stop much of the erosion that has taken away some 2,000 square miles of solid coastal land since the 1930s. If the plan continues successfully, we could almost double the amount of land we lost.

About 10 of the diversions included in the plan will be similar to the Davis Pond Diversion project in St. Charles Parish. They will bring fresh water and sediment into thousands of square miles of our valuable wetlands and will start rebuilding them. The plan will also extend our barrier islands and make them more protective of the areas in which we live.

It is estimated that Graves’ efforts to restructure and streamline Louisiana’s coastal programs and agencies resulted in increasing project output by more than 500 percent. CPRA currently oversees $17 billion worth of coastal resiliency, hurricane protection and oil spill recovery efforts.

The plan could provide benefits other than coastal restoration to Louisiana. It could increase the opportunity to farm rice and sugar cane and allow cattle farming where open water and wetlands previously existed. Fresh water availability, which has become a problem in many areas of the nation, would become much more accessible in southern Louisiana.

Because of Graves’ work, we are beginning to move into a period of reconstruction of our coast that needed the attention of those who know how the stabilization of our land resources work. Hopefully we can continue in that direction in the future.

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