Army Corps of Engineers OKs SW La. coastal study

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">The Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Review Board approved the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Feasibility Study last week, a move one official said brings major progress in providing billions of dollars to protect the region’s coastline.</span>

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">The board approved the study April 21 in Washington, D.C., after hearing from the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the Chenier Plain Authority, a group made up of officials from Cameron, Calcasieu and Vermilion parishes.</span>

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">Chenier Plain Authority Executive Director Nedra Davis said Tuesday that the board’s approval is “a huge step in the process.” The study’s environmental aspects will be reviewed next month, and it will return to the Corps for final signature by the chief of engineers. Davis said the signature could be done by July 25, after which it will be sent to Congress for funding consideration.</span>

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<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">“We’re looking at $3.3 billion in projects,” Davis said.</span>

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">A House committee authorized the feasibility study in December 2005, and work began on it in 2009. But the study faced several setbacks that caused delays over the years, namely a lack a federal funding.</span>

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">“We have worked diligently to get it back on track,” Davis said. “We’re glad it’s actually on at this point.”</span>

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">The study includes several ecosystem restoration measures such as marsh restoration, hydrologic and salinity control, shoreline protection and planting seedling trees.</span>

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">Davis said the study was revised in December to remove an involuntary participation clause that would have required structures located in FEMA-designated “regulatory floodways” to be elevated or acquired by a non-federal sponsor. She said the study now makes it voluntary for residents in that floodway to raise their homes.</span>

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">“That could have impacted 486 residents, but we worked with the Corps to get the clause removed,” Davis said.</span>

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">Cameron Parish Administrator Ryan Bourriaque issued a statement during the Corps’ Civil Works Review Board meeting, saying that the study “can provide the mechanism for resiliency and growth” for Southwest Louisiana’s coastline.</span>

<span class="R~sep~ACopyBody">U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, said in a news release that he will continue to work with the CPRA and the Chenier authority to ensure protection along Southwest Louisiana’s coastline. Davis said Boustany was “very instrumental” in helping the push the study along.</span>

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