Mississippi River Gulf Outlet

Mississippi River Gulf Outlet

After 50 years of destroying critical coastal wetlands and threatening communities of Southeast Louisiana, the writing is finally on the wall for the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. Due to the efforts of the Mr. Go Must Go coalition, including GRN, Louisiana’s senators spearheaded an amendment to force the Corps to de-authorize deep-draft vessel access to the MRGO and develop a plan for its future, including plans to restore the coastal wetlands and marshes destroyed by the channel.

Background - Closing A Hurricane Highway

lake borgne surge barrier
Surge barrier built on one end of MRGO in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to reduce storm surge from the "Hurricane Highway."

Hurricane Katrina devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents. But the storm did not act alone. The destruction was intensified by a number of failed projects developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), including the MRGO. The MRGO was an obscure, seldom-used navigation channel built as a shortcut linking the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of New Orleans.

The MRGO became a “Hurricane Highway” during the storm, sending a 25-foot high wall of water speeding into New Orleans, destroying the levees in its path and overwhelming St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward. The MRGO also destroyed well over 20,000 acres of coastal wetlands that could have reduced Katrina’s storm surge and spared lives.

For years, local advocates and hurricane experts had pleaded with the Corps to close this little used and destructive navigation channel, arguing that the MRGO would amplify and concentrate storm surges into the city. Tragically, these calls were ignored, and the Corps continued to pour tens of millions of dollars into keeping the MRGO open.

Victory: Congress Acts

In response to the numerous concerns about the MRGO raised by the Mr. Go Must Go coalition and others in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed legislation to de-authorize the MRGO, ultimately leading to its closure using a rock dam in 2008. However, GRN and the Mr. Go Must Go coalition continues to advocate for the restoration of the thousands of acres of coastal wetlands that were destroyed by the MRGO.

Read more at the coalition’s website: MrGoMustGo.org