The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has issued a draft of Louisiana's 2012 Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. After public input, the final plan will go to the legislature March 26 for approval. The plan outlines the coastal restoration projects required to sustain Louisiana's Gulf coast marshes and wetlands. Because the coastal marshes and prairies of Louisiana comprise the heart of the most important habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl in North America, and provide year-round habitat for the largest population of mottled ducks in the world, Ducks Unlimited staff members have reviewed the plan and submitted comments.
Overall, DU was pleased with the plan's use of science-based models and an adaptive management approach, and strongly supports the inclusion of restoration elements such as sediment and freshwater diversions in southeast Louisiana and large-scale structural management features proposed for major navigation channels in southwest Louisiana.
Ducks Unlimited's comments primarily focused on plan elements that influence the ability of coastal Louisiana wetlands to support desired populations of waterfowl; support recreational waterfowl hunting, which is an important part of the region's culture and economy; and related funding and policy issues. The chief message delivered by the comments was the need to recognize the importance and influence of waterfowl and other migratory birds on the region's economy and culture. Wildlife-related recreation contributed more than $2.02 billion to Louisiana's economy in 2006 (latest numbers available). Waterfowl hunting alone contributes more than $62 million in total output annually.
DU also recommended to CPRA that a private landowner focus group be formed for development of future iterations of the plan. The majority of coastal Louisiana is privately owned, and it will be essential to work with private landowners during plan implementation. "We are confident that landowners strongly desire to see coastal wetlands sustained indefinitely," said DU Director of Conservation Planning Tom Moorman. "Hence, they may represent an untapped resource in plan development and subsequent implementation."
DU will advocate for funding that supports restoration activities important to waterfowl in this plan.
"Ducks Unlimited stands ready to assist and partner with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to achieve the ultimate goals and objectives of this master plan," said DU CEO Dale Hall. "We look forward to supporting the efforts of CPRA and all entities engaged in protection and restoration of coastal Louisiana's rich wetlands and the people, waterfowl, fish and wildlife, regional culture and industries that depend on them."