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Coastal Restoration Geeks Unite!

LNW_ChenierIf our travel budget were not already AWOL, we would be landing in Lake Charles right about now for the Chenier Plain Symposium [1] Jan. 8–9 hosted by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. Many of the major people in coastal restoration will be there, talking about some technical but very important topics, such as the function of wetlands in damping down hurricane storm surges and about how Louisiana needs multiple lines of defense. [2]

Those who can get over to Lake Charles should definitely make the trip. Bloggers who can help spread the word are encouraged to write it up—and celebrate the CR heroes such as Steven Peyronnin, John Lopez, Carlton Dufrechou, and Paul Kemp, among others. Click here for the symposium agenda [3].

In the CRCL’s own words:

The symposium is a two-day conference to address the scientific, policy and stakeholder issues relevant to expediting comprehensive coastal protection and restoration opportunities in Southwest Louisiana. The symposium is also designed to address many of the preliminary issues anticipated in the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Study authorized by Congress in WRDA 2007. There will be approximately 20 presentations by experts in their field from both Louisiana and Texas discussing the history of the Chenier Plain, the resources available for restoration, successes and failures in restoration techniques, innovative new ideas for restoration and protection, community resiliency, wildlife and fisheries issues, and hurricane impacts form both Hurricane Rita and the recent impacts of Hurricane Ike.

The Chenier Plain encompasses six basins and extends from Vermilion Bay, Louisiana west to East Bay, Texas. The Chenier Plain was built during the last 4,000 years by sediment discharged from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico that were then reworked by Gulf Coast wave action and deposited on the gulf shoreline into chenier ridges and interior marshes. The Chenier Plain wetlands in Louisiana and Texas naturally function very differently than the coastal wetlands found in southeast Louisiana. The Deltaic plain functions with a significant estuarine gradient. In contrast, the Chenier Plain is dominated by processes constantly shifting sediment parallel to the shore and limiting the interaction of the gulf with interior marshes. Human alterations to the landscape have drastically changed the natural processes that built the land and open up the interior marshes to salinity and storm surge impacts. The impact of Hurricane Rita resulted in 111 square miles of land loss, which accounts for 32% of the land loss in this area in over 50 years (Barras et al. 2008).

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