National Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week and to celebrate, we encourage all our readers to get your hands dirty for a good cause. Joining a group of people working towards a common goal fosters a supportive community and instills a sense of pride and accomplishment. Volunteer opportunities in our coastal wetlands are abundant as the days grow warmer and longer.

Additionally, festivals often recruit volunteers to maintain trash and recycling as well as operations and logistics, urban areas organize tree plantings and beautification projects, and trash cleanups are becoming a popular activity combined with exercise–like plogging. Along the coast, several organizations offer volunteering opportunities throughout the year. Some of the organizations who work on or near CWPPRA project sites are Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP), Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), The Meraux Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and Keep Louisiana Beautiful. If none of these organizations pique your interest, there are bound to be local organizations in your community who need help.

Volunteer jobs that specifically benefit our coastal zone are vegetative plantings and trash cleanups. Vegetation is important in wetlands to filter excess nutrients and pollutants, to hold sediment during storms, and to provide habitat for wildlife. Litter is not only an eyesore; even a small piece of trash can have a major impact on the health of any animal that mistakes it for food. Other debris leaches toxic chemicals into the soil, which then accumulate in plant tissues and spread throughout an ecosystem.

Even small acts here and there add up, so get out and pay respect to your community. Whether it’s volunteering with an organization or picking up trash as you walk through a parking lot, your small act can go a long way. We appreciate all volunteer efforts because they directly impact our community and strengthen our connection to the environment, even if they don’t relate directly to Louisiana’s coast. We extend a very heartfelt thank you to those volunteers who do more than their fair share to ensure the health of our coastal zone!


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Louisiana Land Loss and Wetland Restoration at State of the Coast 2018

“We don’t have a day to waste”. — This was a main message heard from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and others at The Fifth Biennial State of the Coast Conference (SOC) which took place in New Orleans on May 30th—June 1st 2018 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in the Warehouse / Arts District of New Orleans.

State of the Coast brought together people from 31 states and  several countries to look at the land loss crisis currently playing out in the northern Gulf of Mexico and what it means for the people with social, economic, and cultural ties to the area. With over 1000 attendees, oral and poster presentations, panel discussions, and a variety of exhibitors, State of the Coast was an opportunity to learn about restoration strategies; monitoring data; and efforts at local, state, and national levels to improve environmental, community, and economic resiliency [1].

Plenary speakers included Governor Edwards, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, CPRA Board Chairman Johnny Bradberry, Houston CRO Marvin Odum, and WWF’s Jason Clay. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy also made an appearance. Presenters included community planners, engineers, scientists, communicators, and students. Attendees could visit sessions as diverse as “Recent Studies on Subsidence in Coastal Louisiana” and “Vanishing by the Minute: What Land-loss and Development Mean for Louisiana’s Cultural Heritage”.

Just before the first plenary session.

Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) outreach staff were set up in the exhibit hall with information and materials for everyone who visited the booth. In addition to the most recent issues of WaterMarks, the Protect Our Coast poster series, and other publications, the CWPPRA booth debuted the new Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS) Fact Sheet, stickers, and magnets. Attendees could also use the #ProtectOurCoast photo booth to show their love for coastal wetlands. Other exhibitors included federal agencies like NRCS and private businesses like Industrial Fabric and Premier Concrete- both have a role to play in protecting and restoring the Gulf’s coast.

The urgency of the situation was a constant refrain at State of the Coast. To date Louisiana has lost land equal to the State of Delaware. At a panel discussion  for Restoration on the Half Shelf, Captain Ryan Lambert said, “it’s time we stop comparing land loss in Louisiana to the state of Delaware, that makes the problem seem small, it’s not small. — Louisiana has lost land almost the size of the Grand Canyon. That’s what people need to know”. Analyses show that coastal Louisiana has a net change in land area of approximately 1,866 square miles between 1932 and 2016 [2]. This land loss is comparable the size of the Grand Canyon National Park (1,902 square miles). Under the CPRA Coastal Master Plan 2017 Medium Scenario, an additional 2254 square miles could be lost over the next 50 years if no action is taken.

CPRA master plan med scenario map
Medium Scenario for Future Without Action in the 2017 CPRA Coastal Master Plan, courtesy of CPRA

The issues facing coastal Louisiana, and other coastlines around the world, are complex and urgent- State of the Coast 2018 provided an avenue for CWPPRA and others working for coastal restoration at environmental, economic, social, and cultural levels to share information, develop partnerships, and craft coordinated solutions to these challenges. Together, we can help create a more resilient coast.

Further Reading:

U.S. News: Louisiana’s State of the Coast Conference Gears Up

The Times Picayune, New Orleans: Louisiana’s moment for coastal restoration: Gov. Edwards

New Orleans Magazine: Our Dwindling Coast Land Loss in Louisiana


[1] Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. “State of the Coast Conference 2018 Program”. Available: [June 5 2018].

[2] Couvillion et al. 2017. “Land area change in coastal Louisiana (1932 to 2016)”.  Available: [June 4,2018].