Stopping Wetland Destruction

GRN's work has added hundreds of thousands of acres of swamp
to Maurepas Wildlife Management Area. 

Acre for acre, wetlands shelter more species than any other habitat on earth. They are home to over one-third of the threatened species in the United States. Almost all of the commercial fish and shellfish harvested in the Gulf of Mexico are dependent on wetland nurseries, and Gulf fisheries introduce billions of dollars into the economy annually.

Beyond the rich biodiversity of wetlands, these habitats provide crucial services to coastal communities.  Wetlands clean water by removing sediments, pesticides and metals. Wetlands act as sponges that trap and slowly release excess floodwaters - coastal wetlands are particularly important for reducing risk of storm surges.

Because the gentle tide of the Gulf meets many strong rivers, the northern Gulf region is the wetlands region of the United States. The immense Everglades, Atchafalaya Basin, and Mississippi River Delta are each globally unique. The Galveston, Mobile-Tensaw, Appalachicola, and Pascagoula Delta and Bay systems produce and shelter wildlife like no other places in the nation.

Despite the immense benefits of these coastal ecosystems, the Army Corps of Engineers and state agencies issue permission to destroy thousands of wetland acres every year. Few people are aware of their actions. Despite a national policy that requires "No-Net-Loss" of wetlands, the Gulf region has the fastest rate of wetland loss in the nation. Much of the wetland destruction results from  oil and gas development in the Western Gulf, navigation and housing development.

The Gulf is hotter than it has ever been, putting all of these shallow water estuaries at risk from swollen seas and erosion. Severe weather and sudden rain also threatens pipelines and barges used to transport hazardous substances, like oil, through the shallow waters of the Gulf. Recent efforts to allow national oil export will undoubtedly pile even more pipelines, navigation canals and other infrastructure through our soft, salty soils.

Three Louisiana Refining System pipes. These transport pipelines are the largest
single type of impact to Louisiana wetlands.

Gulf Restoration Network preserves wetlands by reviewing thousands of requests for wetland destruction permits every year, and sharing our policy expertise with people who want to halt or alter destructive projects. We comment on the most egregious applications, demanding that applicants avoid wetlands with reasonable, alternative plans. We help locals fight wetland destruction in their communities.We work to ensure that any unavoidable wetland destruction is properly compensated for.

The Clean Water Act wetland permitting process requires public participation. Through this process, permit requests must be noticed on Corps websites, as well as in local newspapers. At GRN, we do our best to compile and make this public information accessible to people in affected communities.  Click around on our interactive map of wetland permits open for comment.

Or,  you can also stay informed about new proposals that would potentially destroy wetlands by adding your name to the public-notice mailing lists maintained by state and federal regulatory agencies.

Do you have the inside scoop on a wetland under threat? Check out our helpful map to see wetland impacts across Louisiana. Email the Project Manager and scott@healthygulf.org with local information about the ecological values of that site. 

 

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