Once again the islands off of Louisiana are in jeopardy due to Hurricane Katrina and following storms. Extreme winds and rising water levels are washing away huge sections of this important series of islands. With the decrease in vegetation on the island, erosion carries away the sand, effectively carving out the islands and returning them to the sea.
These islands and marshes are important for many reasons. The extensive wildlife, both land and sea, call these islands home. A variety of birds including the Brown Pelican make their nests among the green vegetation. Fish and other marine animals feed and live within the shallows. Without the shallow waters and plant life, these animals must move on. The Louisiana wetlands support a billion dollar fishing industry. These islands serve a very important function in nature also. With the Chandeleur and Breton sounds pouring into the gulf, these islands and dunes protect the sea from the muddy waters and the mainland from powerful storms.
Restoration is needed again to protect these areas from future hurricanes, erosion, and high waters. Storms have battered these islands for quite some time, but they have since been able to repair themselves between storms. Records of the 1890’s detail the effects on the islands. The magnitude and frequency is destroying any hope for self repair in our lifetime. Past restoration projects have been successful in planting vegetation to control erosion and create self-building opportunities. Due to the drastic changes that have taken place recently, more money is needed to fully repair the wetlands. It already may be to late to save certain areas, which makes saving all we can much more important.
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