Louisiana Coast Gets OK for New Oyster Reef
The Louisiana Coast is like Rocky Balboa. It's been knocked down so many times, just to get up again and again. Hurricanes, oil spills, toxic algae blooms, and more just aren't enough to keep a good coast down! All of this abuse does, however, take it's toll. The Louisiana coastline has been disappearing at an alarming rate. Between the years of 1932 to 2010, the Bayou State has lost approximately 1,800 square miles of coast. That erosion seems to be speeding up, as 300 square miles were lost in just 4 years (2004-2008).
To make matters worse, we aren't just losing beaches and ports, we are losing entire towns and small islands. To combat these unacceptable losses, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana has a plan that involves your stomach. The environmental group just received a quarter of a million dollar grant from Shell and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to construct a second oyster reef along the western edge of Barataria Bay.
When I first read the words "oyster reef" I assumed that this was a type of oyster farm, and I was totally ok with that. Anything that gets more oysters into my belly is cool in my book, but upon further investigation - I found that it is much more beneficial to efforts aimed at coastal conservation. That's even better.
The CRCL are collecting discarded oyster shells from New Orleans seafood restaurants that would otherwise end up in a landfill to build a reef. They clean the shells (a 6-month process), bind them together with environmentally friendly nets, and construct an underwater barrier of sorts. This is just the base of the reef that will eventually be comprised of coral, sediment, and aquatic plants. As the reef grows, it will provide more and more protection from powerful storm surges by acting as a type of buffer. This buffer will absorb and deaden much of the sea's power to chew up the rapidly disappearing coastline.
US News and World Report has a great, in depth story of exactly how this reef is going to be built here.