The Policy Roots of Louisiana's Land Loss Crisis

by Paul H. Templet, Louisiana State Univ, Baton Rouge, LA, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '87


Louisiana is currently losing approximately 155 square kilometers of highly productive wetlands to the Gulf of Mexico each year and the rate is accelerating. The physical cause of the problem lies in man's attempts to control the Mississippi River's flooding and to enhance navigation. Secondary (and possibly primary) causes include erosion, canalization, sea level rise, hydrologic modification, and direct conversion of wetlands to other uses. Federal policy and the resultant institutional arrangements maintain the nearly total dedication of the River's resources to navigation, causing the continued and accelerating degradation of the environment and, increasingly, the economy of south Louisiana. At issue is a contradictory federal policy which seeks to maintain the Mississippi River in its present channel for the benefit of navigation and, at the same time (but not with the same vigor), to preserve wetlands as a habitat for fisheries and other wildlife.

Subject Headings: Vegetation | Navigation (waterway) | Federal government | River bank stabilization | Wetlands (coastal) | Wetlands (fresh water) | Floods | Erosion | United States | Louisiana | Mississippi River | Gulf of Mexico | Mississippi

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