The latest coastal news, events and more from the Barataria and Terrebonne Basins...

CPRA to host FY19 Annual Plan public meetings in January
Three meetings will take place across the coast early in the month.

Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority will host its annual meeting to update stakeholders on the progress of coastal restoration and protection, as well as detail plans for the upcoming three years.

As mandated by the Louisiana Legislature, CPRA is to produce an annual document to inventory projects, present implementation schedules, and identify funding schedules and budgets.  The draft document can be found online here.

Public meetings to accept comments will be held in the following locations:

January 8: Belle Chasse Auditorium
January 9: Houma Terrebonne Civic Center
January 10: Lake Charles Civic Center

CPRA Executive Director Michael Ellis presented the $562 million FY19 Annual Plan at the December CPRA meeting, and detailed expenditures categorically, with 50% going to project construction:
  • Construction (23 projects): $282.0 million (50%)
  • Engineering & Design (34 projects): $137.0 million (24%)
  • Operations, Maintenance & Monitoring 136 projects): $53.7 million (10%)
  • Ongoing Programs & Initiatives: $47.2 million (8%)
  • Operating Costs: $32.2 million (6%)
  • Planning (2 projects): $10.4 million (2%)
Public comments will be taken until February 12.

Lafourche Parish awarded coastal projects
December brought good news to the parish, which was awarded projects from two different programs.

As part of its annual process, the Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration (CWPPRA) Technical Committee met in early December and selected four Project Priority List (PPL) 27 candidate projects to recommend to the Task Force for Phase I Engineering and Design. The Technical Committee also selected two projects to recommend to the Task Force for Phase II authorization and Increment 1 funding, including the Caminada Headland Back Barrier Marsh Restoration (BA-171) which received the most votes.  

In ROR's letter of support for the project, it was noted:
CWPPRA has been an important funding source for coastal Louisiana, and ROR is keenly interested in maximizing and leveraging all dollars made available to restore and protect coastal Louisiana. In this case, BA-171 Caminada Back Barrier Marsh, is requesting the second-lowest dollar amount of funding of projects looking for Phase II authorization, and is also leveraging the over $200 Million already spent on the Caminada Headlands projects.   BA-171 will sustain critical projects in the area, provide an essential protective buffers to Port Fourchon, and promote and protect important native vegetation and migratory species.

There are more steps in the funding approval process. The Task Force may approve these recommended projects for Phase I and Phase II funding when th ey meet on January 25, 2018 at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 7400 Leake Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Additionally, at the December CPRA meeting, it was announced Lafourche Parish was also awarded a project  through the St ate's ina ugural parish matching program under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). CPRA set aside up to $100 million over a 15-year period from its RESTORE Act Spill Impact Component funds to establish this program. 

Lafourche was awarded $412,722 for Engineering and Design of the Grand Bayou Freshwater Reintroduction Project in Lafourche Parish.  This long standing project concept was detailed in the parish's own multi-year implementation plan submitted to the US Treasury as part of the RESTORE process.  

ROR wrote in their letter of support:
For Grand Bayou, we s upport the objective of increasing freshwater flow to the surrounding marshes by dredging Grand Bayou. This project is in the Master Plan (03a.HR.100), and the parish has already allocated money to begin preliminary design and engineering with its RESTORE dollars. Furthermore, this is already an area of interest via the local levee districts, providing additional protection benefits.

The CPRA's parish matching program investment will nearly double the amount of funds the parishes will receive over that same time period under the RESTORE Act Direct Component. This program is designed to help parishes leverage project funding to design and/or construct projects that might otherwise not be initiated or completed and to accelerate the timeline on projects that might otherwise have to wait to be fully funded out of a parish's RESTORE Act funds. 
ROR continues work to assist CPRA with coastal financing
ROR is partnering with the CPRA to source expertise in areas of financing and economics to identify strategies for financing high priority Coastal Master Plan projects.

Restore or Retreat updated the Coastal Protection and Restoration Financing Corporation during their December meeting on its latest steps in the process to secure an expert team to create a financing structure for several specific Master Plan projects, develop repayment strategies from existing committed sources of revenue, as well as project economic benefits to the state and impacted communities by advancing restoration.

The team of Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors, LLC was selected, and has already begun work on the report, which is expected late Spring/early Summer.  

Additionally, CPRA and ROR will also partner on a separate, but related report, to develop a forecast of revenues Louisiana can expect to receive through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) in support of the state's long term effort to finance the state's Coastal Master Plan.  LSU Economic & Policy Research Group will conduct that work.  

At the December CPRA meeting, as a show of continued support, the CPRA board passed a motion of support for ROR's partnership with CPRA to explore both traditional and innovative financing to leverage and maximize funds available to restore and protect our coast.  
A special thank you to CPRA for hosting a Coastal Connections outreach event in Port Fourchon!
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