Habitat takes center stage at 2022 RAE Coastal & Estuarine Summit

Since the 1920’s, Louisiana has lost more than 2,000 square miles of wetlands – an area roughly the size of Delaware. This puts the coast, its residents, and businesses at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

More intense and more regular storms are hitting the Gulf each year – causing damage in the billions of dollars to coastal communities and causing destruction to important commercial fishing grounds and delays in international shipping. Storm surge and flooding has also been a huge concern – displacing thousands of coastal residents, if not worse – destroying homes, businesses, and taking lives.

Add this on top of rising seas due to global warming and loss of wetland habitat and the city of New Orleans, which sits two feet BELOW sea level already, is ground zero for the worst of what we could expect if we don’t take drastic action to curb emissions and protect our coasts against climate change.

All this considered, the choice to select New Orleans as the destination for the 2022 RAE Coastal & Estuarine Summit was an easy one. Additionally, few coastal regions have seen the amount of investment in habitat restoration as the Gulf Coast.

The state of Louisiana made a $1.3 billion commitment in 2022 to the states Coastal Annual Plan, which includes 114 projects to protect Louisiana’s coast. Additionally, NOAA has completed more than 100 habitat restoration projects off the Louisiana Coasts, according to their Restoration Atlas.

While attending this year’s Summit, participants can travel to several restoration sites and participate in hands-on habitat restoration and field sessions.

Of note is the Sunday December 4th restoration project hosted by RAE member group Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL). Attendees will venture to the CRCL Oyster Shell Recycling Site in Violet, just 25 minutes south of New Orleans. From there you will travel by airboat to plant native trees along the Violet Canal in support of wetland reforestation and natural hurricane protection.

Additionally, this same day NOAA, Restore the Mississippi Delta, and Great Lakes Dredge and Dock will be leading a boat tour through the Upper Barataria Mash Creation project. The partners are building more than 1,200 acres of marsh habitat using sediment pumped more than 10 miles from the Mississippi River. Participants will view newly created wetland planforms as well as see previously restored sites. This project will support marsh plants and healthy wetland habitat, which can lessen the impact of future storms by dissipating wave energy.

As in years past, habitat restoration will also be a focus of many of the presentations during the Summit itself. This year, we received a high number of proposals covering the topics of living shorelines, nature-based infrastructure, and climate adaptation. We expect the detailed agenda to be released sometime in the Fall.

We will also take some time to share our Coastal Restoration Toolkit, a collaborative project RAE created in partnership with NOAA’s Office of Habitat to give coastal communities a roadmap to undertake their own restoration projects.

Last but not least, we’re also happy to have the support of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) as an Executive Sponsor. CWPPRA has provided funding to restore coastal Louisiana since its passage in 1990. Other leading sponsors of the 2022 RAE Summit include NOAA, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Walton Family Foundation, and Stantec. To view the full list of Summit sponsors, click here.

We hope you’ll join us December 4-8 in New Orleans and we are happy to highlight the work of our great partners in the Gulf Region during NOAA’s 2022 Habitat Month. Registration for the 2022 Summit is open now with early bird savings being offered until October. Click here to register today!