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RESTORE Lowermost Mississippi RIver Management PRogram

The Lowermost Mississippi River (LMR), defined here as the reach from Baton Rouge to the
Gulf of Mexico, is a nationally-significant, multiple use resource. Historically, the LMR has
been managed for the purposes of flood control/protection and commerce/navigation. Recently
ecosystem restoration has become a significant river management need. Past flood control and
navigation management practices have led to the loss and degradation of Louisiana’s and the
Gulf Coast’s ecosystem as a result of greatly diminished flows of sediment from the river into its
coastal wetlands. Those management practices at times have conflicted with ecosystem
restoration needs and likewise the degraded ecosystem in the vicinity of the LMR makes those
practices more vulnerable to failure in the future. Geomorphic and physical changes to the LMR
underscore the need to implement improved river management strategies to sustain navigation
and flood control while reversing coastal ecosystem degradation and wetland loss.
The goal of the Lower Mississippi River Management Program (LMRMP) is to create an
integrated, science-based management strategy for the LMR that results in sustaining and
restoring wetlands in the ecosystem that is affected by current navigation and flood control
systems, and in turn sustaining the LMR navigation and flood control systems through ecosystem
restoration.
The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers (USACE) have recently engaged successfully in the development of the Louisiana
Coastal Area Program (LCA) Mississippi River Hydrodynamic and Delta Management Study
(MRHDMS). For the first time, a suite of mutually developed predictive models are available
(or soon will be) to assess impacts to the river and adjacent basins of ecosystem restoration
projects. Much of the focus of this effort has been on the impact of river diversion projects on the
river’s navigation and flood control systems. The LMRMP is intended to leverage this important
work and take the next step in assessing impacts of lower river management (navigation, flood
control and ecosystem restoration) on Louisiana’s and the Gulf Coast’s Mississippi River delta
with long term sustainability of the ecosystem, and flood control and navigation systems in mind.

The LMRMP will initiate the development of an updated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
for the Mississippi River & Tributaries (MR&T) project. The existing EIS’s for the MR&T
project were created 30-40 years ago and do not reflect the current drastically altered coastal
landscape or recognize the ongoing efforts to restore it. To date, the EIS’s have not been
reassessed to determine the accuracy of the predicted impacts or to determine if current
mitigation activities are commensurate with the level of actual impact. The new EIS will include
an evaluation to determine the feasibility of relocating the Saltwater Barrier Sill away from
sediment borrow areas used for restoration in the river and the identification of beneficial use
opportunities tied to compatible projects in the Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable
Coastal Louisiana (Coastal Master Plan). The objective is to create a new river management
paradigm where management goals for restoration compliment flood protection and navigation
management goals, but all goals are recognized as connected and inter-dependent, and in fact
support each other.