BY JOHN GUIDROZ
Officials with three coastal parishes in Southwest Louisiana and
three Southeast Texas counties signed an agreement Wednesday to form
the Chenier Plain Alliance. The partnership is intended to help
protect the coastline in both states and possibly secure additional
state and federal dollars for restoration projects.
Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion parish officials, along with
officials in Chambers, Jefferson and Orange counties, signed a
memorandum of understanding after a presentation at the SEED Center.
Sixty percent of the Chenier Plain’s 5 million coastal acres is in
Louisiana, and more than 30 percent is in Texas.
A Chenier Plain report shows that Cameron Parish has nearly 670,000
acres of wetlands — more than any county or parish in the Gulf Coast
region. Its rate of losing more than 33,000 net acres is the second
highest in the Gulf region. America’s Wetland Foundation has reported
that Louisiana loses up to 35 square miles of wetlands annually.
Counting the Chenier Plain ports together, including Beaumont, Port
Arthur and Lake Charles, “would rank higher than the New York/ New
Jersey Port Authority in tonnage,” according to the report.
Calcasieu Police Jury President Dennis Scott said the effort to put
together a Chenier Plain Alliance began after the Louisiana Parishes
Against Coastal Erosion formed in response to the 2010 Deepwater
Horizon oil spill. Once that group was formed, he said Louisiana and
five Gulf Coast states, including Texas, began to collaborate.
“The Chenier Plain is what we have in common,” Scott said. “For us
to try and preserve just what we have doesn’t make a lot of sense. We
should work on it as a group.”
Scott said the partnership could help secure money from the RESTORE
Act trust fund to use for coastal restoration projects and protecting
wildlife along the Gulf Coast.
Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings, called the partnership a
“natural marriage” because of how alike Southwest Louisiana and
Southeast Texas are.
“Wind and water don’t recognize political subdivisions,” he said.
“This is an effort for us to join together and focus on the Chenier
Plain, which protects us from wind and that water. At least they’ll be
on the same page.”
Laurie Cormier, assistant planner and coastal zone manager for
Calcasieu Parish, said the alliance helps Louisiana and Texas band
together to make sure the Chenier Plain “will still be here for
generations to come.”
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