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Louisiana lawmakers discuss wetlands, plans for coastal restoration underway

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BATON ROUGE - Louisiana lawmakers discussed the importance of saving the state's wetlands Saturday.

Secretary Ryan Zinke of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior was invited to tour the soon-to-open LSU Center for Rivers Studies, and to discuss the center's role in protecting the Louisiana coastline.

"The coastlines are important. We are losing too much of it. But I think we have great team of people here who are dedicated to fixing the problem," Sec. Zinke said.

Professor Clint Willson, Director of the Center for Rivers Studies, told WBRZ "The amount of land were are losing ever year is really remarkable."

Researchers say the coastline is losing the equivalent of one football field of land every hour, to the extent that Gov. John Bel Edwards declared it a state of emergency earlier this year.

Prof. Willson also believes flood prevention levees are having a impact on the coastline. "Because of the levees that were built over the last hundred and something years, the river has been disconnected from the wetlands," Willson said.

"It's a working coast and it's important that you come down and see it. Sometimes from Washington, it's a little different view," Zinke says.

Congressman Garret Graves and Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy hope that Zinke's visit will help remove bureaucratic barriers that are holding back coastal restoration projects.


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