Original Articles

LOUISIANA'S ERODING COASTAL ZONE: MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVES

DOI: 10.1080/03779688.1983.9632857
Author(s): IrvingA. MendelssohnCenter for Wetland Resources, USA, R. Eugene TurnerCenter for Wetland Resources, USA, KarenL. McKeeCenter for Wetland Resources, USA

Abstract

The wetlands and protective barrier islands of coastal Louisiana are deteriorating and eroding at rates of crisis proportions. Annually Louisiana loses 130 km2 of wetlands. This high rate of coastal land loss is due to both natural and man-induced causes. Louisiana's coastal wetlands and barrier islands owe their existence to the delta cycle of the Mississippi River. Innate in this cycle is the natural deterioration of wetlands and barrier islands along one segment of the coastal zone as initiation and expansion of wetlands and barrier island occurs along others. Hence, during the last 7000 years a net gain of land of 500 to 600 ha annually has resulted. Since 1900, however, there has been a net annual loss of land. This paper discusses (a) the effect of man's activities on the natural delta cycle and, as a consequence, rates of coastal deterioration and (b) the potential mitigative measures which may be utilized to ameliorate this effect.

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