CPRA holds hearing on state Master Plan
By: GEOFFREY STOUTE
MORGAN CITY — The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is developing a new master plan to determine the best ways to restore portions of coastal Louisiana that have eroded away as well as safeguard land, natural resources and communities that are in danger of erosion.
On Thursday, organization officials were in Morgan City to share the framework for the new plan as well as solicit ideas for what locals think should be included in the Master Plan.
Natalie Snider, coastal resource scientist with CPRA, said nearly 100 people from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, scientific and technical officials, and academia and focus groups are involved in developing the plan.
The public’s input is key, too, Snider said.
“The public’s decision is a huge part of the decision-making process,” she said.
CPRA Chief of Planning Kirk Rhinehart said the state has been able to put $790 million into projects and expedited projects.
However, he said in an old plan developed in 2007, funding was limited for enabling CPRA to do more.
In the new plan, projects will be looked at as how they can work together instead of alone in order to get the best bargain with the monies available.
While none of it is guaranteed, CPRA has identified $20 billion to $50 billion that it could receive during the next 50 years from various sources, or $400 million to a billion per year.
Because local authorities have identified $250 billion in projects that should be funded, that means some projects will be cut, Rhinehardt said.
So far, 170 nonstructural projects in every area of Louisiana have been identified. Another 34 structural projects and 210 restoration projects also are being considered.
Every area of coastal Louisiana has been included, Snider said.
First, the committee is looking at the science experts to see what can be done for the coast.
Then, using modeling of projects for different factors and in different conditions, the organization will determine what projects are beneficial and feasible.
In working to restore the coast, though, officials recognize they cannot restore the coast as it was in the 1920s.
“If we don’t come together, we all lose,” Snider said. “If we don’t come together, we might be the last generation to enjoy the coast.”
During the public comment period, Morgan City Mayor Tim Matte cautioned that the modeling system used by CPRA in this project is the same one the Federal Emergency Management Agency used to determine base flood elevations for the Morgan City area and in the subsequent appeal the city has undertaken, and that it did not always produce accurate results.
Matte noted, though, that it could be different for coastal protection and restoration.
Rhinehardt said that the results from the modeling may not be exact, as FEMA was attempting to do with flood maps, but it will give an idea of what projects will be successful and which ones won’t.
St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin also questioned where St. Mary Parish is on developing its Coastal Master Plan.
Rhinehardt said he and Snider would sit down with him and show him what projects CPRA have identified for the area.
State Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, asked that a flood protection structure for Bayou Chene be included in the final master plan as well as levee structures in western St. Mary that are proposed to extend to the Iberia Parish line.