In a joint venture between Louisiana's government and industry, a plan has been proposed to spend $50 billion over the next 50 years to save the coastal wetlands of Louisiana. Wetlands are of critical importance to coastal communities. They help to reduce the storm surge from hurricanes and lessen the impact for the mainland. They act as nature's barriers from storms. In addition, wetlands also serve as a very critical and fragile ecosystem.
Sea-level rise and regional subsidence has caused the wetlands to be inundated by seawater. The Louisiana coast has one of the highest rates of relative sea-level rise in the United States, clocking in more than 1 cm/yr. This is because the ground is sinking (subsidence) and the sea level is rising.
Engineers want to restore the wetlands in a fashion similar to how they were formed. In a pristine setting, without human influence, the sediment from the Mississippi River would be deposited along the Mississippi Delta and eventually along the Gulf Coast. The plan calls to redistribute sediment from the Mississippi River to the sinking basins where the wetlands are located, and create 33,000 acres of new wetlands; however, this plan faces two issues. First, dams along the Mississippi River hold back much of the naturally transported sediment, and secondly, much of the wetlands area has already subsided too much to be restored.
The plan also calls to establish oyster reefs to stabilize the shoreline. Oyster reefs are a natural way to stabilize and bind the sediment and help protect the shoreline from erosion caused by strong storm waves.
Most of this work is planned to occur along the Mississippi River about 30-40 from the coast. Unfortunately the land located less than 30 miles from the coast is subsiding so fast that nothing can be done to help save it.