GeoCarta Has Moved

Feb 16, 2006

Coastal losses greater than thought

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Southeast Louisiana's natural storm buffer took an unprecedented blow from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that was even worse than previously reported, with 118 square miles of coastal marsh converted into open water, a new federal report says.

The extent of shredded wetlands, laid out in a U.S. Geological Survey report, is equivalent to more than 73,000 football fields, or almost twice the size of Washington, D.C.

Plaquemines Parish suffered the worst losses -- more than 57 square miles in Breton Sound and near the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to USGS geographer John Barras.

"Alarming is not the right term. It's frightening what's happened with Katrina," said Carlton Dufrechou, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. "The rule of thumb is that every two and a half miles of wetlands reduces storm surge by one foot."

The USGS report comes at a time when billions of dollars in federal aid have been committed Louisiana for disaster recovery and levee repairs, but none so far for wetlands restoration beyond pre-existing projects and programs.

See also: USGS Estimates Loss Of Louisiana Coastline.