Many years ago, in the sixties, Louisiana Land and Exploration Company officials suggested that we restore the broken up barrier islands along the coast of southeast Louisiana. It would have protected the state’s valuable wetlands which spawn much of the nation’s commercial fish.
Since then, coastal erosion has taken away much of that rich resource.
Had we followed their suggestion, we could have saved most of it.
Now, several decades later, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser have proposed a plan to British Petroleum, owner of the leaking oil well in the Gulf, and the U. S. Coast Guard that they restore the barrier islands to protect the coast from such oil spills.
It would also protect us from surges during hurricanes which is one of the main causes of our coastal erosion.
Jindal maintains the entire work could be done by 12 dredges which could be mobilized in a matter of weeks and the project completed in four to six months.
If leaking oil from the Gulf were stopped at the beaches along the barrier islands, it would be much easier to clean up. The restoration would shorten the southeast coast of Louisiana from thousands and thousands of miles along the wetlands to a couple hundred miles along the barrier islands.
If we had done it when LL&E proposed it, we would be somewhat protected from the current oil spill that is terrorizing us each day.
We haven’t heard very much about that proposal since then. And despite the rapid deterioration of our coast during those years, we have been very slow to do anything about it.
Jindal’s proposal is to make the Louisiana coast continuous with only passes open to accommodate boat traffic.
Our barrier islands are our first line of defense in protecting us from oil spills in the Gulf and hurricane surges. It’s time to restore them and let them do the job again.