Gulf Coast suffering 71 percent of coastal wetlands loss
LAFAYETTE - Wetland loss along the Gulf Coast accounts for a staggering 71 percent of the coastal wetland loss in the United States each year, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report.
As coastal marshes turn into open water, the economic and ecological health of the nation is increasingly threatened.
"Louisiana's coastal land loss is the greatest environmental, economic and cultural tragedy in North America," said Phil Turnipseed, director of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center.
Despite recognition of coastal wetlands as water filters, barriers against flood waters, storm mitigators and aids to local, regional and national economies, the national loss rate has increased by more than 20,000 acres per year, now at 80,000 acres annually.
Coastal wetlands serve as natural protection from storm-related flooding. By some estimates, approximately three miles of coastal wetlands shrink storm surges by up to a foot.
The full NOAA report – "Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009" – and past reports can be found at www.fws.gov/wetlands/Status-and-Trends/index.html.