Open Letter Expresses Concern About Changes to State’s Coastal Program

NEW ORLEANS  — More than 200 businesses, organizations and individuals from across Louisiana have signed an open letter expressing concerns about potential changes to the state’s coastal program. 

The signers emphasized the need to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the states’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and Coastal Master Plan process.

Since taking office, Gov. Jeff Landry appointed Gordon Dove, the former Terrebonne Parish president, to lead the authority. It’s unclear if the two men will fully endorse the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project, which is hailed by coastal restoration advocates but opposed by commercial fishermen. And Landry and Dove are considering merging the CPRA with the much larger Department of Energy and Natural Resources. 

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“Louisiana’s coastal program, established from the hard lessons learned after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, has made our coast stronger and more resilient,” wrote the letter’s authors. “We are concerned by recent shifts in the state’s coastal program, particularly the dramatic changes in the direction and composition of the CPRA board and lack of adherence to our science-driven Coastal Master Plan.”

The letter says that reorganizing CPRA under the Department of Energy and Natural Resources would weaken its effectiveness. The signers also express concern that the promotion of restoration and protection projects not vetted through the master plan process risks wasted time, energy and funding. 

“Louisiana’s Sportsman’s Paradise is world-renowned for our hunting and fishing opportunities,” said Ryan Lambert, owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures, in a press release announcing the open letter. “Sadly, we are quickly losing the essential wildlife habitat that supports our culture and our sportsman’s legacy. We need to strengthen Sportsman’s Paradise for the future generations of hunters and anglers that are depending on what we do today.”

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“Our coastal program works,” said Rebecca Triche, executive director of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. “Louisiana’s track record in strong science-based planning, securing outside funding dedicated to restoring and protecting the coast, and engaging the public in the coastal restoration process has made us the gold standard for the rest of the nation. This is a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Changing the coastal program jeopardizes the efficiency and effectiveness of an already successful state agency.”

Read the full letter.

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