Master Plan Principles

The following principles serve as guidelines for fulfilling the plan’s mission and objectives. They reflect guidance from years of coastal planning work in Louisiana, including principles reflected in the Coast 2050 document, the Louisiana Coastal Area Study, and the 2007 Coastal Master Plan.

Long-Term Solutions. The 2012 Coastal 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 sea level rise, project costs, and other factors become too great to maintain reliable evaluation results.

Seeking Sustainability. The master plan seeks the long-term sustainability of the coast while recognizing 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. This will be done while keeping limited funding and resource budgets in mind.

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 protection systems (both structural and nonstructural) and restored coastal habitats cannot eliminate all flooding risks, and that some degree of residual storm 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.

Public’s Role. 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 citizens 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 the public 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 protection and restoration 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 high-quality science, while recognizing that the quest for perfect knowledge may be both fruitless and ultimately counterproductive. Calculated risks will need to be taken.

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, fresh water, 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 constrain the restoration efforts we can undertake. As a result, we have also considered dredging options if natural processes do not offer us the sediment we need. The master plan recognizes the need to maximize use of sediment sources outside the system. Possible sources of sediment outside the system include the Mississippi River, the Atchafalaya River, Calcasieu Ship Channel, and areas offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ensuring Consistency. Given the emergency facing coastal Louisiana, it is imperative that all government agencies act quickly and in accord with the master plan. Governor Jindal’s Executive Order BJ 2008-7 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.

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 the Private Sector. 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.