An Opportunity to Save Time and Money on Restoration
Why Waste That??
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, some long-awaited good new was announced regarding the River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp project. The RESTORE Council voted to include the project in its Funded Priorities List. This means that the freshwater diversion project, which will benefit 45,000 acres of swamp between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, will receive $130 million and can FINALLY begin to move into the construction phase! This project has been talked about for decades and could finally break ground in the next few years. [Read more on that in LWF’s blog here.]
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recently released an environmental assessment (EA) for construction mitigation for a series of projects including the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain (WSLP) levee project. It was expected that the state would save millions of dollars on the Maurepas Swamp project by being used as mitigation for a portion of the WSLP project due to the fact that the first few miles of the WSLP project overlap with the footprint of the Maurepas Swamp project. However, the Corps has not mentioned the project in it’s EA as a mitigation option.
So what does this mean?
This means that the River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp project would need to undergo additional permitting, which could delay the start of construction. It also means that the expected cost savings (from being used as mitigation) would no longer apply, raising the total cost of the project. The State still needs $60 million to get the shovels moving on Maurepas Swamp restoration, and the Corps mitigation dollars are key to filling in the funding gap.
As it is, our state doesn’t have enough money to fund all of the restoration and protection projects that are needed along our coast. Any cost savings that can be applied to a project is crucial to stretch our dollars and our impact.
Louisiana is very close to constructing this immensely important restoration project, decades in the works, that will benefit one of the largest forested wetlands in the nation – protecting wildlife habitat and communities. We need to get this project over the finish line and your support is critical. Please help by taking a moment to send your comments to the Corps and urge them to take advantage of this opportunity.
We cannot afford to waste time OR money. Will you help by taking action today?