Coastal erosion being fought with the help of Christmas trees

Since 1930, more than 1,500 square miles of Louisiana coastal wetlands has been eroded away. The damage and injury to the wetlands continues, though, and at an alarming rate – almost an entire football field every 30 minutes.

It’s estimated that correcting the problem could cost billions of dollars. The cause of the erosion – namely the exploration by the oil and gas industry – is also the subject of a lawsuit filed against 97 oil and gas companies by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. It’s also the basis for lawsuits from two parishes against almost 30 oil and gas companies.

The SLFPA-E has been strongly criticized by Governor Bobby Jindal and his coastal advisor, Garret Graves. But the lawsuits aside, the parishes mostly affected by the coastal erosion are working to try to stop the damage. In many of them, Christmas tress have become one option.

The Christmas trees are placed in the marshes in order to provide a barrier to Gulf water, which are ever-encroaching on the wetlands. Tree recycling of all kinds is used, as it provides a cheap, environmentally-friendly method for restoration. The trees are weaved “into five-foot ‘cribs’ that are dropped into the bayous as barriers to help create land.” Not only does this help the wetlands, but it keeps an untold number of trees from being dumped in landfills.

The East Baton Rouge parish has collected over 100 tons of discarded Christmas trees in the last few years. Whatever is not placed in the marshes is chipped up and used for mulch and compost. If there are trees left over, the parish donates them to other parishes that many need the trees for their own coastal restoration projects.

Environmental concerns, such as the damage and injury to Louisiana’s coastal areas, sometimes requires that the courts get involved in order to reach a viable solution. Environmental attorneys work diligently to protect our planet and ensure that the damage is restored.

Source: houston.cbslocal.com, “Christmas Trees Help Fight Coastal Erosion In La.” No author given, Dec. 25, 2013

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