Experts focus on coastal restoration

May 26, 2017

A regional coastal advocacy group held its annual meeting today and hosted coastal scientists, industry professionals and others to talk about what the group does and can do to help protect the coast.

Simone Maloz, executive director of Thibodaux-based Restore or Retreat, said one of the group’s goals is to be a regional resource for coastal issues.

“Coastal (issues) can be complicated and so we want to be able to share that information with folks.” Maloz said.
Maloz said the group wants organizations to contact it if they have questions about the state’s Coastal Master Plan or specific projects in the area.
Restore or Retreat also works to support similar organizations at national, state and local levels to help to complement the work they do.
The group focuses on helping implement large-scale projects that could benefit restoration and move projects forward. It also works to find out how projects will be paid for and what kind of policies need to surround them.
Justin Ehrenwerth, the new president and CEO of the the Water Institute of the Gulf and keynote speaker for the meeting, said collaborating with other groups is the best way to accomplish the goal of protecting the coast.
“If you really want to get big things done, it requires collaboration,” he said.
Ehrenwerth said the water institute was founded to be an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan, applied research institute.

“The applied research piece is the most important, I think,” he said. “Because you get some of these great minds, and sometimes the danger is you get a bunch of great scientists together and they’ll write you some papers. And the papers will be very interesting, but they won’t necessarily solve the problems that we need to solve.”
Although the scientist still write the papers, the main focus of the water institute is fixing problems using the best available science. One important role of the nstitute is bringing science to the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to help it with the creation of the master plan.
“When we watched the master plan of 2017 make its way through the Legislature, we’re very much in the background as the scientists, but we’re so proud,” he said.
They’re proud because Louisiana is often at the bottom of national metrics, he said, but not for science.
“We are without question the best in the country (at coastal science),” he said. “One of the best in the world, if not the best in the world, and I don’t know if we’re always as proud of that as we should be.”