LEADERS LAND IN DUBUQUE TO DRAMATIZE LINKS BETWEEN AMERICA’S WETLAND & AMERICA’S RIVER Issues of Commerce and Culture Underscore Call for Action
DUBUQUE, IA - At the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium today, Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol, Iowa Congressional delegation representatives, and community leaders greeted a group traveling up the Mississippi River to bring a message of caution for the 31 states of the Mississippi River Basin: Louisiana’s vanishing coastline signals an alert to the nation.
Dubuque is the third stop for the delegation from the America’s WETLAND Foundation, Women of the Storm, and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA). The “Up River” initiative was launched on May 31, the eve of hurricane season, with an event at the Port of New Orleans, followed by a stop in Memphis, Tennessee. The coastal leaders are bringing a message to Iowans of how Louisiana’s coastal land loss affects states whose security and economy are tied to the Mississippi River.
“Anything that threatens the Mississippi River means we are impacted in Iowa,” said Mayor Buol. “Keeping the mouth of this great river secure, means that goods and products from our state make it to market. And, when the Gulf Coast is threatened by hurricanes, the citizens of Dubuque feel the impact at the gas pump. This area is vital to our economic and energy security and we should not let it deteriorate.”
This event demonstrated the vital ecological and economic linkages between America’s Heartland, the Mississippi River system, and America’s WETLAND, particularly how continual loss of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands is directly tied to America’s future. The group’s goal is to alert the nation and the world of the threats to humans, commerce and nature caused by Louisiana’s coastal land loss.
“Many people don’t realize the importance of the old-fashioned notion of working together, but we know that the people of Iowa do,” said Anne Milling, founder of Women of the Storm, a non-political, non-partisan group of women from metropolitan New Orleans and south Louisiana who work to draw attention of Congress and national opinion leaders to the region. “But when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit Louisiana in 2005, we called on our nation’s leaders to personally view the tragedy. All Americans were - and continue to be - affected by the storms and their aftermath. We came to Dubuque to illustrate how closely all of us who depend on the Mississippi River are linked.”
In the recent legislative session, the State of Louisiana passed historic measures that will have broad national impact on ecosystem restoration. “The Louisiana legislature unanimously approved a comprehensive master plan for coastal restoration and protection,” said Sidney Coffee, CPRA Chair. “Our state is committed to protecting the resources of the Mississippi Delta - the valuable animal and marine habitat and the critical infrastructure that provides more than 80 percent of the domestic offshore oil and gas supply for our nation. America depends on Louisiana’s coast for its energy, its navigation, its fisheries, and its wildlife habitat. We are truly linked beyond our borders.”
Beyond catastrophic wetland loss, the devastation left in the wakes of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 resulted in economic and energy disruptions up and down the Mississippi River. The continuing disappearance of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, which act as a natural hurricane buffer, is directly tied commercial and conservation interests along the Mississippi. “The ducks that migrate in the sky above, the commodities that move down America’s River, the health of river, estuary and tributary natural resources are all at stake,” said Val Marmillion, managing Director of the America’s WETLAND Foundation.
While in Dubuque, the Louisiana coastal delegation also conducted briefings for congressional and state representatives and news editors. The America’s WETLAND “Estuarians” - life-size mascots that represent the estuaries of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands - posed with visitors at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and visited Prescott Elementary School to teach the students about the various animals that thrive in the landscape along Louisiana’s coast.
“Women of the Storm” is a non-partisan non-political alliance of Louisiana women whose families, businesses, and lives were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita. Members are culturally, socially and economically diverse. Bound by their passion for their communities, Women of the Storm educate the elected leadership of this country about the urgent needs of the areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita for safe and secure neighborhoods and communities. The group offers educational tours, data, and personal stories about families whose lives have been forever altered by the 2005 hurricane season. For more information on the Women of the Storm, visit www.womenofthestorm.net.
The America's WETLAND Foundation developed one most comprehensive public education campaigns to build public support for wetland restoration. The Campaign was launched to raise public awareness of the impact of Louisiana's wetland loss on the state, nation and world. The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetlands protection as a key to economic growth. For more information on the Foundation, visit www.americaswetland.com.