Dr. Donald Boesch - Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Activities

Conference report cover I have experienced Louisiana's vast wetlands since I was a youngster, going on many fishing trips to the St. Bernard Parish marshes with my father. During the 1980s I had the opportunity to return to work amidst the wetlands as the first Executive Director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) and supervise the building of the Defelice Marine Center at Cocodrie. Extensive wetland research has since been conducted on wetlands from the Center, surrounded by vast salt marshes. While at LUMCON, I convened a Conference on Coastal Erosion and Wetland Modification in Louisiana: Causes, Consequences and Options and edited the proceedings (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service FWS/OBS-82/59), a landmark publication in the evolution of consensus on wetland loss and restoration options. In addition, I published several synthesis papers on coastal wetlands.
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W. Alton Jones Panel (1993-94)

I chaired the Scientific Assessment of Wetland Loss, Restoration and Management, sponsored by the W. Alton Jones Foundation. The panel's report provided independent evaluation of the rates and causes of wetlands loss and made recommendations for a hierarchical strategy for protection and restoration building on the programs being initiated under the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) of 1990. This widely cited report contributed to more comprehensive thinking about coast-wide restoration.

west bay

National Technical Review Committee -
Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration

Between 2002 and 2005 I served on the National Technical Review Committee (NTRC), formed to provide independent review and advice to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Louisiana on the plan for the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Ecosystem Restoration.

The members of the NTRC have published an article in Ecological Engineering on lessons learned from their experiences in providing this review and advice.

before katrina

after Katrina

Landsat images before (2002) and after (September 7, 2005) Katrina. New Orleans at upper left.

New Framework for Coastal Louisiana

In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as the NTRC chair, I coordinated the assistance of the NTRC and served as a source of information and analysis to the news media. Katrina brought national attention to the importance of Louisiana coastal wetland restoration and this is likely to result in a sense of urgency for its implementation. However, the effects of the hurricane both on coastal environments and population centers will require rethining aspects of the LCA Plan.

As an outgrowth of the NTRC, I chaired a Working Group for Post-Hurricane Planning for and the Louisiana Coast that produced a report on a new framework that integrates coastal restoration with flood protection and navigation. These two efforts led to the publication of a review in Science magazine, Restoration of the Mississippi Delta: Lessons from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and a more recent paper, Restoring and Protecting Coastal Louisiana published in Issues in Science and Technology.

I also co-chaired an American Geophysical Union Conference of Experts on Post-Katrina Science that produced the report Hurricanes and the U.S. Gulf Coast: Science and Sustainable Rebuilding.

wax lake

Science Board -
Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration Program

Between 2006 and 2009 I served as the Chair of the Science Board for the LCA Ecosystem Restoration Program. The charge to the Science Board is to (1) understand and improve the technical underpinnings of the program, (2) review the structure and operations of the Science and Technology Program, and (3) review and improve the processes for integrating the S&T Program activities with the LCA Ecosystem Restoration Program.

The Science Board also provided advice to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Program (LaCPR) and the State's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's (CPRA) comprehensive planning efforts.

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Concerns about Sea-Level  Rise

On January 15, 2010, 33 prominent coastal science with deep experience in Louisiana wrote a letter to Governor Bobby Jindal expressing concerns about the acceleration of sea-level rise as a result of global climate change. They stated: “The amount of sea-level rise that will be experienced depends on the future trajectory of societal greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are increasing atmospheric and oceanic temperatures, which are leading to concerns about stronger hurricanes, a key vulnerability for Louisiana. It is therefore imperative that these factors to be included in the development of policies on coastal protection and restoration, and that such integrated policies be strategically planned and urgently implemented.”

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