By this summer, the island will be 1,000 acres larger. But the state will have to periodically rebuild it in the coming years.
The plan to rebuild Louisiana’s wetlands centers on massive diversions that will fill bays with freshwater and mud. The fishing industry is worried those diversions will push their target species farther offshore. So environmental groups are working with chefs to expand the market for freshwater seafood.
The swamp is suffering from a lack of freshwater from natural flooding and from the penetration of saltwater through canals dug for logging. If nothing is done, scientists say the forest will become open water over time. The first phase of the project will be funded with $14 million in BP oil spill fines.
With the help of a $40 million federal grant, residents of six parishes in southeastern Louisiana have been talking about how their communities could be redesigned to deal with increased flooding. The plans are meant to complement the state’s expectations that thousands of homes will have be elevated, and some bought out, in the coming decades.