Louisiana currently loses one football field of wetlands approximately every hour and a half. The state’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast established a $50 billion strategy for protecting and restoring the remaining wetlands– advancing solutions including marsh creation, beach and dune restoration, coastal forest conservation, flood walls, and sediment pipelines, which transfer river sediment to nourish marshlands. However, even if all the Coastal Master Plan projects are adopted and implemented, Louisiana will have succeeded in protecting 802 square miles while losing another 1,452. Many coastal communities will need to move to higher ground, while others are developed to receive them.
Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE) is a project initiated by the Office of Community Development and the Foundation for Louisiana as a codesign process developed with six parishes on the front lines of these statewide shifts. Each parish worked to create regionally applicable demonstration projects facilitated by grassroots leaders, energized by local knowledge, and informed by data describing the next fifty years of sea-level rise. It is one of the first community-driven projects in the United States in which residents are collectively making choices about how to adapt their shoreline and retreat from the coast.
This video animates Packard Jenning’s illustration of Upland Migration in Louisiana in Alison Sant’s book, From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities (Island Press, 2022). Music: “Spy on Fiya” by Cha Wa produced by Ben Ellman.