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Sunday, March 24, 2019

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Plans to save the coast discussed

Plans to save the coast discussed

Coastal restoration experts gathered Thursday at Nicholls State University to discuss coastal land loss and flooding risks that are being addressed in separate plans.

The primary focus was how the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's 2017 Master Plan would affect the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program's Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan.

Bren Haas, CPRA chief of planning and research, said at BTNEP's 78th Management Conference that the state's plan aims to be realistic.

"The plan is a framework to make tough decisions on what we can and cannot fund over the next 50 years," Haas said. "They're not good decisions, they're not fun decisions, but we have to make it."

Haas outlined how the plan will focus on flood risk reduction, building and maintaining land, the effects of the communities' land loss and improvement of science and technological analysis.

He especially focused on the projects that will most heavily impact the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary such as the river diversions to Barataria Bay and Bayou Lafourche and piping in sediment to help rebuild the receding marshland.

Susan Testroet-Bergeron, BTNEP program director, asked Haas if appointing a liaison to the CPRA on matters involving her agency's plan for protecting the estuary would be possible.

"If we're going to be affected first, maybe we should have a bigger voice at the table," Testroet-Bergeron said.

Haas said he couldn't speak for all of the CPRA, but added that he thought the idea was great and "we'd be all ears."

Asked how the coastal restoration plan might affect local businesses, Haas said it would be difficult to protect the coast without having their presence felt.

"We're in dire straits here," Haas said. "The trick is to do as much as we can to save as much as we can without disrupting business as usual."

Representatives of local governments and business groups, the Wetlands Discovery Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bayou Grace and the National Park Service were also in attendance.

Staff Writer Dan Boudreaux can be reached at 857-2204 or Follow him on Twitter @dan_boudreaux.