The below principles reflect years of coastal planning and serve as guidelines for fulfilling the plan’s objectives.
Ensuring Consistency. Given the emergency facing coastal Louisiana, it is imperative that all government agencies act quickly and in accordance with the master plan. Governor Edward’s Executive Order No. JBE 2016-09 highlights the need for the plan to drive and expedite state action across agencies. The same need applies to the state’s partners at the local and federal levels, consistent with their mandates and missions. While the master plan provides the blueprint for restoration and planning activities in coastal Louisiana, a coalition of support from the nation will be required if we are to create a more sustainable and resilient coastal Louisiana.
Urgent Need for Action. The master plan recognizes the urgent need for action. A sustainable system is one characterized by consistent levels of productivity and resilience (the ability to withstand naturally variable conditions and/or recover from disturbances). Creating a sustainable system will reduce the long-term costs of projects, both in terms of energy use and operation and maintenance expenses. The plan relies, to the maximum extent possible, on natural cycles and processes while also keeping limited funding and resource budgets in mind.
Long-Term Solutions. The master plan is charged with providing a sustainable long-term solution for coastal protection and restoration. In keeping with this charge, our projects’ tangible effects should be of long duration. For planning purposes, projects were evaluated, prioritized, and integrated using a planning horizon of 50 years. Beyond 50 years, uncertainties about environmental conditions such as sea level rise, project costs, and other factors become too great for the evaluation results to be reliable.
Systems Approach. The master plan was developed using a systems approach to flood risk reduction and restoration, whereby benefits of actions and the most effective portfolio of solutions were identified.
Clear Expectations. Evaluations were made with the understanding that we cannot recreate the coast of the 20th century. Instead, we must seek to fashion a new landscape that will support viable natural and human communities into the future.
Acknowledging Residual Risk. The master plan acknowledges that risk reduction systems (both structural and nonstructural) and restored coastal habitats cannot eliminate all flooding risks, and that some degree of residual storm surge-related risk will be inevitable in coastal Louisiana. The plan supports and promotes close coordination among all jurisdictional authorities to minimize the risk of property damage and inform stakeholders of ongoing residual risk.
Collective Responsibility. The master plan acknowledges the leadership that the state and its federal partners must show in defining the path forward. At the same time, achieving a sustainable coast is a collective endeavor. In addition to effective government action, success will require stakeholders to offer their ideas as planning proceeds and make informed decisions about living and working in south Louisiana. Strong flows of information between agencies and all stakeholders are essential to continued progress.
Providing for Transitions. Louisiana’s coastal crisis is currently displacing resources, infrastructure, and communities. As we address this crisis, sensitivity and fairness must be shown to those whose homes, lands, livelihoods, and ways of life may be affected, in the near term and long term, by master plan projects or by continued land loss and flooding.
Participatory Process. The master plan was developed with the participation of the many diverse interests that live, work, play, and own property in coastal Louisiana, along with national interests that have a stake in coastal Louisiana’s landscape.
Accounting for Uncertainties. The master plan considers how both financial and scientific/technical uncertainties influence the selection of projects. Although our restoration and risk reduction efforts must be based on sound and robust science, we must also acknowledge that substantial uncertainties remain, especially in regard to climate change. For example, we do not know with certainty the rate of sea level rise we can expect over the life of a restoration project, nor can we fully predict all ecological responses to actions such as sediment diversions. We do know, however, that dramatic land loss will continue unless we act boldly. In many cases, the risk of doing nothing is far greater than the risk of acting with incomplete knowledge. Thus, we used best available science and engineering, while recognizing that the quest for perfect knowledge may be both fruitless and ultimately counterproductive. Calculated risks will need to be taken to accomplish the objectives of the master plan.
Adapting to Changing Circumstances. To accommodate the dynamic nature of coastal processes, reducing flood risks and the restoration of coastal Louisiana is an evolving process. The master plan should lay the groundwork for an effective monitoring and evaluation process that seeks to reduce scientific and engineering uncertainty, assesses the success of the plan, and supports the adaptive management program. The plan will be revisited regularly, as mandated by legislation, and after exceptional events such as hurricanes. The plan will also be refined as necessary to respond to changing economic, social, environmental, and climatic conditions.
Efficient Use of Resources. The master plan was developed in a way that acknowledges the need for efficient use of resources, such as funding and sediment. The plan’s analysis seeks to capitalize on synergies among projects, resolve overlaps and conflicts, and promote sound management of resources.
Sediment for Restoration. At present, limited supplies of, or access to, renewable sediment resources constrains the restoration efforts we can undertake. As a result, we have to also consider dredging options if natural processes do not offer us the sediment we need. The master plan recognizes the need to maximize the use of sediment sources outside the system.
Regulatory Effects. Revisions to some laws and regulations may be needed to help the state’s coastal program achieve its goals. The master plan highlights where such changes may be needed so that local, state, and federal partners are able to act in concert with the plan.
Role of Private Landowners and Business and Industry. Because the majority of Louisiana’s coast is privately owned, close working relationships with private landowners are essential, not only for their support but to gain from their knowledge about private coastal lands. Since Louisiana’s is also a working coast, partnerships with businesses and industries are also required for the success of the coastal program. The support of all of these entities is essential for providing coast wide consistency with the master plan’s objectives and outcomes as well as innovate approaches to project implementation.