Restoring Wetlands around Sacred Sites

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s coastal wetland loss problem affects the entire state, but it disproportionately impacts indigenous coastal tribes who stand to lose sacred burial sites and other culturally significant places. A collaboration between the Lowlander Center, a nonprofit advocacy and education organization dedicated to supporting lowland people and places, and LSU aims to stop and potentially reverse part of the coastal wetland loss problem with support from the National Estuary Program.

Canals dug for oil and gas recovery can cause significant coastal land loss. The recently funded team will identify which canals that are no longer in use threaten to erode sacred sites. The team will then begin to fill or plug the unused canals.

“By coastal restoration standards, backfilling canals is a simple, quick and inexpensive solution to a really serious problem,” said R. Eugene Turner, LSU Boyd Professor in the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences and project participant. “We’re pleased to be receiving this grant so that we can continue this work, which has proven to be effective in the past.”

This project is a first step towards filling the canals that are causing significant land erosion, damage to crops and additional challenges for tribes with centuries-old connections to the land to safely remain in their homes and support themselves and their families.

“This will ultimately save tribal communities along the coast,” said Shirell Parfait-Dardar, Chief of the Grand Caillou and Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians. “Sacred sites have been lost to coastal erosion in Louisiana, and many families have been forced to relocate from sacred lands due to the effects of land loss. The implementation of this project will help restore much of what’s been lost throughout the years.”

The National Estuary Program’s Coastal Watersheds Grant Program funds projects that support priorities set by Congress to restore coastal bodies of water throughout the U.S. This project, “Lagniappe for the working coast: reducing flood risk and protecting sacred sites and tribal communities’ resilience by strengthening Louisiana’s marshes,” has been funded a $246,386 grant.


Contact Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations