Gulf Coast Suffers Majority Of Coastal Wetlands Loss

Monday, January 13, 2014
As coastal marshes turn into open water, the economic and ecological health of the nation is increasingly threatened.
As coastal marshes turn into open water, the economic and ecological health of the nation is increasingly threatened.

Wetland loss along the accounts for a staggering 71 percent of the coastal wetland loss in the United States each year, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) .

“Louisiana's coastal land loss is the greatest environmental, economic and cultural tragedy in North America,” said Phil Turnipseed, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wetlands Research Center.

Ducks Unlimited points to the study as support for their Gulf Coast Initiative and prioritization of Gulf Coast habitat conservation.

“Despite our best efforts at protecting and restoring critical habitat, these losses continue to erode the capacity for coastal Louisiana and Texas to support waterfowl in the single most important wintering area on the continent,” said DU Director of Conservation Programs Jerry Holden.

Based on the best available data, coastal wetland loss since the 1970s means today’s available habitat supports an estimated three million fewer ducks in Louisiana. Coastal marsh loss in Texas, combined with drought and the disappearance of rice agriculture, is adding to the already-dramatic foraging deficit on critical wintering grounds for waterfowl species such as pintails.

Despite recognition of coastal wetlands as water filters; barriers against flood waters; storm mitigators; and aids to local, regional and national economies, the national loss rate has increased by more than 20,000 acres per year, now at 80,000 acres annually.

“We have to stabilize and ultimately reverse the rate of loss of these critical wetlands,” said Tom Moorman, director of DU’s Southern Region. “Ducks Unlimited works with a variety of state, federal and nongovernmental partners, as well as private landowners, to conserve and improve wetland habitats for waterfowl and other species, and we continue to look for ways to increase the rate of coastal wetland restoration with our partners.”

For example, DU is seeking additional support for conservation projects via funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

DU is also involved in an innovative partnership with the rice industry to enhance working wetlands on coastal prairies connected to the marshes and supports the use of freshwater and sediment diversions where appropriate to build marsh and important waterfowl and wildlife habitat.

“We must all work together and make coastal wetland restoration a priority. These wetlands are vital for waterfowl, but also absolutely crucial to the nation’s economy and security,” Mr. Moorman said. “In the face of sea-level rise, coastal marsh loss and increasingly costly hurricanes, storm surge absorption is more vital than ever to the nation’s economic security.”

Coastal wetlands serve as natural protection from storm-related flooding. By some estimates, approximately three miles of coastal wetlands shrink storm surges by up to a foot.

The full NOAA report – “Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009” – and past reports can be found at: www.fws.gov/wetlands/Status-and-Trends/index.html. Learn more about DU’s Gulf Coast Initiative at www.ducks.org/GulfCoastInitiative.


The Trail Of Tears And The Road To Civil War Hike Offered On Sept. 12

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park invites the public to attend a special hike at Moccasin Bend National Archeological District on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 2 p.m.    Participants should take the Manufacturer’s Road exit off Highway 27 and drive west, following the “Special Event” signs to the Brown’s Ferry Federal Road trailhead off Moccasin Bend Road. ... (click for more)

East Tennessee Dove Season Opens With A Bang

With shotguns in hand and hats shading heads, over 1,000 East Tennessee hunters harvested nearly 5,000 doves on fields leased or owned by TWRA during Tuesday’s opening of the mourning dove hunting season.  Dove hunting on opening day is a longstanding tradition in the state as hunters brave the dust and heat with hopes of filling their bags with a limit of 15 birds.  ... (click for more)

Hutcheson Medical Center May Get Bankruptcy Trustee Who Would Focus On Sale Of Fort Oglethorpe Hospital

Hutcheson Medical Center may be headed for appointment of a bankruptcy trustee, who would focus on the sale of the financially-strapped Fort Oglethorpe hospital. An attorney told a bankruptcy court judge in Rome, Ga., on Wednesday afternoon that a buyer is discussing paying over $20 million for all the assets of the community hospital. Attorney Rob Williamson ... (click for more)

Hutcheson Medical Center Unsecured Creditors Committee Asks Trustee Be Appointed For Fort Oglethorpe Hospital; Asks Bankruptcy Not Be Dismissed

The Unsecured Creditors Committee of Hutcheson Medical Center is opposing a motion by U.S. Trustee Guy Gebhardt for a bankruptcy judge to dismiss the bankruptcy for the financially-ailing Fort Oglethorpe hospital.   Instead, the group is asking Judge Paul Bonapfel to appoint a trustee to oversee the Hutcheson finances. In a 16-page motion, the committee said if the bankruptcy ... (click for more)

Who's Responsible For East Ridge's Stadium? - And Response (2)

There just can be no excuse for East Ridge High School's stadium being in such dangerous condition that it has been condemned.   Where is responsible for this? I know there are a few other stadiums like this as well. And there is no excuse for this.  Building new and beautiful schools, state of the art technology. Top athletic facilities as well. Yet, East Ridge ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Five Straight Days Of Football

If I covered my first high school football game as a fledging sports when I was 16 years old, and I am now 66, I figure that’s darn near about a half-century of passes and punts. The mystifying part is that I still get as big of a kick hovering around the game as I did on my very first time so as we usher in the start of the college season with five straight days of games, here ... (click for more)