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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Restoring a Delta

Restoring a Delta

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, May 8, 2015/Categories: natural history, photography, sustainability, environment

                          Aerial Perspective of the Mississippi River Delta Region (credit: NASA)

One of the worst legacies of coastal development decisions involves channelization of the Mississippi River by public works projects and roads cut through the marches by commercial oil and gas drilling. The US Geological Survey ( USGS ) estimates that losses
to Louisiana's 3 million acres of wetlands is running at the rate of approximated nearly 30 square miles annually. The Mississippi Delta has shrunk nearly 2,000 square miles over the past 80 years, an area almost the size of Delaware.

The marshes may seem like a wasteland to some but they are essential ecological components of the Gulf and provide nurseries for commercial fish spawning, wildlife habitat, and coastal protection from the destructive power of hurricanes. Restoring the wetlands is one of the prime activities envisioned by a fund established after the massive oil spill recently

Such an ecosystem-scale project will be a very big job but evidence shows that it can be accomplished with appropriate attention to the natural process that created the delta to begin with. The Atchafalaya Bay region shows how it could happen if natural channeling were restored. False-color infrared Images captured by NASA show the transformation of the Atchafalaya River's delta as it has grown from 1984-2014. Researchers at Louisiana State University have estimate that the Atchafalaya River and adjacent side channels have grown by 1 square mile per year of new marshland.
             
                                 Louisiana coastline and Atchafalaya Bay c. 1984



           Louisiana coastline and Atchafalaya Bay c. 2014    
     
The visual signs of delta growth are impressive, the regional needs along the coast are great, and hopefully the financial and human resources designated to restore the entire region will produce similar results.

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2 comments on article "Restoring a Delta"

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harper_marty

5/13/2015 1:04 PM

Fantastic news. Love to see wetlands thrive. Grew up near confluence of the Tallahatchie and Yalobusha rivers headed for the MS at Vicksburg and can relate. Must overcome sea level change


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harper_marty

5/13/2015 1:23 PM

This is a lake on the Yalobusha system http://tinyurl.com/lrw4ou4

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