Louisiana’s coastline -- including the incredibly valuable and productive Mississippi River Delta -- is vanishing at an alarming rate. Every hour, a football field of land disappears. For America’s sportsmen and women, this is a conservation crisis of national importance.

Some ten million migratory waterfowl throughout the Mississippi and Central flyways use the warm Louisiana marshes annually as winter or stopover grounds. The state is also home to world-class salt- and freshwater fishing, where anglers can leave from one dock and catch anything from redfish, speckled trout and bass to tuna, amberjack and mahi mahi.

To fully grasp the scope and urgency of Louisiana’s coastal crisis, it is important to understand how the Mississippi River Delta naturally formed over thousands of years, as well as the varied man-made and natural causes of land loss that are plaguing the region.

A Degraded Gulf Coast

The Gulf of Mexico is home to approximately 15,000 unique species of wildlife, including many different types of salt- and freshwater fish and shellfish and millions of migratory waterfowl and neotropical birds every year. A wide variety of habitats support this abundance of wildlife, including wetlands, barrier islands, coral reefs and oyster beds.

Decades of mismanagement and the 2010 Gulf oil spill have wreaked havoc on Gulf Coast habitats. Restoration efforts are underway in each of the Gulf States, using once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunities from the oil spill legal settlements from the oil spill. These funds should be spent on projects that will benefit Gulf wildlife. 

How the Delta was Formed

For 7,000 years the Mississippi River snaked across southern Louisiana, depositing sediment from 31 states and two Canadian provinces across its delta.

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Louisiana's Land Loss

The Mississippi River Delta and coastal Louisiana are disappearing at an astonishing rate: A football field of wetlands vanishes into open water almost every hour.

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Wasted Sediment

The Mississippi River Delta formed over the last 7,000 years as the Mississippi River carried sediment accumulated from all over North America and deposited it at the mouth of the river along what is now Louisiana’s coastline.

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Storm surge from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed hundreds of square miles of coastal wetlands. The damage caused by flooding and storm surge was made even worse by the previous loss of miles of protective wetlands.

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The Gulf Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 men and dumping nearly five million barrels of oil — the equivalent of over 200 million gallons — into the Gulf of Mexico.

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