Largest Habitat Restoration Project In U.S. History Breaks Ground

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The State of Louisiana’s ground-breaking for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, the largest single ecosystem restoration project in U.S. history and a monumental milestone decades in the making, will help reconnect the Mississippi River to its surrounding wetlands. The National Wildlife Federation has worked for decades to advance large-scale sediment diversions as the most effective way to rebuild the Mississippi River Delta, creating vital habitat for wildlife and a crucial buffer for coastal communities against increasing threats from storm surge.

(Photo: Canstock)

Louisiana loses a football field of land every hour and has lost nearly 2,000 square miles in the last century — about the size of the state of Delaware.

To address its land loss crisis, the state has a comprehensive plan to build and sustain coastal wetlands. The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, which will mimic natural land-building processes, is a cornerstone of that plan, and is predicted to restore up to 27 square miles (17,000 acres) of wetlands in the Barataria Basin and is designed to work with other restoration projects in the outfall area, creating the potential for enhancing hundreds of acres of restored wetlands in total.

“The monumental Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion is the most important project to restore and expand wetlands in the history of the United States, a remarkable achievement that can help begin to turn the tide on Louisiana’s land loss crisis,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The landmark project will not only rebuild essential habitat for iconic wildlife species that depend on the Bayou State’s globally-significant coastal resources, it will also provide critical protection for vulnerable coastal communities by enhancing the wetland buffer that reduces the velocity and volume of storm surge. Harnessing the power of the Mississippi River itself to build up its delta — as the system did naturally for thousands of years — is the premier example of how we can work with nature to improve outcomes for both people and wildlife alike to combat escalating climate impacts. We commend the state and federal officials across Louisiana and all those involved in the decades of effort culminating in today’s groundbreaking and urge other regions to draw inspiration from this innovative nature-based solution to create a more resilient future for generations to come. We have no time to lose.”


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