Experts: Louisiana Lost 1,900 Square Miles Of Land Over 50 years
NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Several nonprofit groups are shining the light on the problem of coastal erosion in Louisiana.
The Louisiana coast is the first line of defense against storms, but according to experts, it's rapidly breaking down.
Thousands attended the Last Stand for America's Wetland demonstration and concert at Waldenberg Park to raise awareness for a coastline that is disappearing.
"Hurricane season is June 1, and we are raising the alarm here," said R. King Milling, of America's Wetland Foundation.
"If we don't do this now, it is all over," said Beverly Church, of Women of the Storm. "Our nation without Louisiana's coast is really in trouble."
By the end of the hour, coastal erosion experts said the equivalent of a football field of the state's wetlands will have vanished.
"This is like a cancer," Milling said. "It's eating at us, and you have got to look at the long-term impact of what is occurring."
The disappearing wetlands have long been a problem in the state, but after Hurricane Katrina, concern is heightened because the natural storm barriers are diminishing.
"We took it all for granted," Church said. "I think we thought that the federal government was taking care of our levees and infrastructure and didn't wake up."
To bring attention to the deteriorating coastline of Louisiana, the event took place along the banks of the Mississippi River. It was part entertainment and part education.
Organizers said restoring the wetlands needs the full support of the public.
"If the public does not support taking care of our coast, political leaders around the country won't either," said Val Marmillion, of America's Wetland Foundation.
One solution is to plant more vegetation along the coastline -- a problem experts said the state and the nation can't afford to ignore. They said that when the wetlands wash away, eventually revenue from major industries will as well.
"We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure -- 30 percent of the nation's oil, 30 percent of our seafood, navigation of the Mississippi," Marmillion said. "It is almost indescribable."
There are several measures being used to try to prevent erosion, including building high sand barriers to protect this fragile areas and also depositing in some areas by using sediment mined from the Mississippi River.
Coastal erosion experts said that in the last 50 years, Louisiana has lost 1,900 square miles of land, roughly an area the size of Delaware.