Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan

Five years

The Challenge

The loss of more than 1,800 square miles of coastal land endangers far more than just wetland ecosystems. Louisiana’s coastal area is home to more than two million people who work, play, and live in a delta that has fostered some of the most unique cultures in the country. The multiple causes of this land loss, along with the shocking losses associated with 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita, set the state on the path of integrating coastal activities into the new Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority tasked with developing a coastal master plan every five years to ensure new science, understanding, and technologies are incorporated in a timely fashion.

The Approach

Soon after Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan was unanimously approved by the state legislature, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority began work on the next iteration. The Institute proudly worked on numerous aspects of the plan along with partners at the state and federal level as well as private firms, all with the single goal of setting the road map for the next five years of coastal planning. In addition to overseeing the contracting and technical activities of the modeling team, Institute researchers were also involved in improving or developing new numerical tools to provide a deeper understanding of Louisiana's current and future 50-year coastal environment while taking into account a variety of future scenarios. This included advancing modeling tools, incorporating a larger geographic area into the models, and increasing spatial detail of coastal change and flood risk.

One of the modeling tools developed – the Integrated Compartment Model (ICM) – is a prime example of the Institute’s team and partners collaboratively working to expand upon existing data and knowledge. The ICM was instrumental in evaluating different ways in which groups of projects could be combined and sequenced to provide the best outcome for the Louisiana coast.

As part of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan development, Institute researchers also developed an Adaptive Management plan to provide guidance on how projects could be management in a changing, and many times uncertain, coastal environment. In addition, researchers produced a Social Vulnerability Index using information from the 2010 Census and the 2009-2013 American Community Survey to look at the social and economic conditions that increase community vulnerability to storms or other hazards.