November 2016 Newsletter

“We are in a Race Against Time”
Claiming that “time has run out for repairing our eroding coast and we are ready and must start,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards challenged coastal leaders to restore 20,000 acres of wetlands by 2020 at the second of two leadership roundtables this October hosted by the America’s WETLAND Foundation and the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The discussions focused on financing the State’s master plan for coastal restoration and protection and on making the plan operational.

“We all know some will ask why spend the money in the first place if the coast is in so much trouble?” Governor Edwards said, “The answer is because we have communities there now and industries and cultural resources and I am open to creative solutions. We all have to be.”
Johnny Bradberry, CPRA chairman, closed the meeting noting that he has taken plans to immediately implement some of the recommendations from the two-day sessions, including:

  • Determining if a declaration of emergency is possible for Louisiana in light of dramatic land loss and consequences;
  • Assessing new options to raise funds by carving out a demonstration project for private financing and reviewing the procurement process;
  • Adjusting his organization to fit with the new master plan strategies and priorities;
  • Establishing rationales for a 2017 legislative agenda;
  • Citing lessons learned, better project design and implementation;
  • Building and presenting the case for moving debt obligation relief for the repayment of $100 million for hurricane protection following Hurricane Katrina.

The leadership roundtables precede the announcement of an updated master plan for coastal restoration and protection to be considered by the Louisiana Legislature and the upcoming Summit on the National Implications of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan to be held in late January.

The sessions are all being held in cooperation with leading state and national organizations including, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, the Louisiana Nature Conservancy, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Restore or Retreat, and the Louisiana Offshore Terminal Authority. The events are being made possible through the financial support of Entergy, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Ducks Unlimited and Louisiana Sea Grant.

Video: Mitigation Banking
The Foundation encourages innovative financing scenarios for wetland restoration, including private investment in large-scale mitigation banking.

Mitigation banking is a possible alternative funding stream that allows private capital to be used to meet government standards for restoration and, at the same time, provide a fair rate of return on investment.

The video shows the construction crew that has been restoring Ecosystem Investment Partner’s Lake Superior Mitigation Bank. The video focuses on the history of the site, the scope of the work and the ecological benefit of the project.

Stunning Map Shows Every River Basin in the U.S.
The Daily Mail posted a stunning map that shows the complex network of rivers and streams in the contiguous United States.

There are 18 major river basins in the 4 8 states of the contiguous US, but much of the map is dominated by the massive catchment area for the Mississippi River, including the Upper and Lower Mississippi River Basins, along with Missouri River Basin and the Arkansas-White-Red Basin as seen in pink.

Creative Conservation Financing
Recently the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released an update to its Comprehensive Plan to restore the ecosystem and the economy of the Gulf Coast region. The America’s WETLAND Foundation applauds the approach of “Creative Conservation Financing” that was highlighted in the updated proposed RESTORE plan. AWF has long advocated for public-private partnerships as a mechanism to increase restoration funding through innovative financing and business models to pay for transitional projects to protect the coast and ensure the success of long-term, large-scale wetland restoration projects.

“We have worked with agencies at the federal, state and local levels and with the private sector to establish new models for restoring the coast through innovative products and a process that makes good business sense,” said Val Marmillion, AWF managing director. “We need to move quickly and in a cost effective manner to promote projects that will stop the onslaught of salt water into fresh water marshes like the Foundation’s work that centers on shoring up embankments that have been compromised along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the line of demarcation between salt and fresh water.”

From the Council’s Report:
Creative Conservation Financing
Successfully combating all of the ecological stressors in the Gulf is a complex challenge that greatly exceeds existing and expected restoration funding. The Council is committed to maximizing the effectiveness of funds within its purview, while also trying to help identify and leverage new sources of funding to support current and future restoration work. In addition to our existing restoration partners discussed in this Comprehensive Plan update, there are other parties that have a growing interest in participating in ecosystem restoration. For example, private sector and non-profit entities are actively exploring new and innovative ways to bring capital to restoration activities. Given its own limitations relative to the size and scope of the Gulf restoration challenge, the Council welcomes these potential partners and is interested in exploring ways in which such endeavors can potentially help the Council advance its mission. The Council is committed to open dialogue and future collaboration with such partners in this emerging arena.

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