State of the Beach/State Reports/LA/Sea Level Rise

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While there are no statewide requirements to account for sea level rise in local Hazard Mitigation Plans, some communities, such as St. Tammany Parish, have voluntary done so. Fortunately, the Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast allocates billions of dollars to increase the state’s coastal resilience and provides a thorough blueprint for coastal flood risk reduction. The state is also making substantial efforts to encourage local jurisdictions to build beyond NFIP Requirements with the recently released Community Rating System.

Sea Level Rise Policies

1. State encourages regional or local SLR vulnerability assessments with mapping: No

The Water Institute of the Gulf: “The Water Institute of the Gulf, along with federal and state agency partners, received funding in 2016 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to launch a project focusing on identifying and evaluating the vulnerability of critical and essential facilities in two pilot study locations – south Lafourche Parish and Morgan City.” This study is an excellent step in the right direction, but the state must conduct a thorough vulnerability study coast-wide.

The 2014 State Hazard Mitigation Plan has a section on coastal erosion, but there is no information on SLR or climate change. However, there is a k-12 mitigation lesson plan program, outreach plans for the community regarding procurement, and a proposal for a Coastal Land Use Toolkit for community members. To note, the state has not yet adopted these measures.

2. State encourages regional or local SLR adaptation plans and implementation plans: Yes

Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast: considers impacts from sea level rise and climate change, and designs large projects to combat storm surge and coastal hazards across a large range of flood risks. While this plan is an important step in planning for climate change, Louisiana still has not developed a state-led adaptation plan. However, certain jurisdictions have taken lead to increase their local resiliency, including St Tammany Parish, who created a coastal zone plan, ordinances, permitting of waterways barriers and other structures in the coastal zone, and a RESTORE Act multi-year implementation plan.

3. State protects habitat that provide landward creep of coasts for wildlife (managed retreat, riparian areas, habitat connectivity): No

LA has important migration routes that should be recognized and preemptively protected to reduce the threats of climate change.

Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast: mentions the need to protect coastal ecosystems and highlights their importance both current and in the future, but more thorough mapping of a migration/adaptation corridor and codified protections would be beneficial.

4. State coordinates with municipalities, and encourages local plans and community outreach: Yes

Louisiana Coastal Management Program, Section 309: Includes Management Priority 1: "Coordination with Hazard Mitigation Activities of Local Louisiana Communities and the State and Local Coastal Management Programs and Assisting Local Communities in their Efforts to Facilitate Rapid Recovery from Hazards"

LA Hazard Mitigation Plan: Includes a k-12 mitigation lesson plan program, outreach plans for the community regarding procurement, and a proposal for the Coastal Land Use Toolkit for community members.

NOAA Peer-to-Peer Case Study: Louisiana Parish created a model subdivision ordinance to enhance public safety and resilience to coastal storms and flood events. “St. Tammany Parish developed a model ordinance requiring all new roads in subdivisions to be constructed at a minimum of six feet above sea level. To develop a defensible elevation for the ordinance, parish staff members found that having a drainage engineer on the project team was essential.”

Community Rating System (CRS): The state is trying to encourage involvement in CRS to reduce National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) premiums, but is struggling due to capacity. “Another § 309 project is developing a method by which to incorporate the [CRS] criteria from the [NFIP] into local coastal use permit authorizations, utilizing a Local Coastal Management Program (LCMP) as the model for development.” ... “State figures show that about 80% of NFIP policies in Louisiana are in CRS communities. This is the fifth-best in the US. However, other observers of the program note that many small, exposed, poorer, coastal communities do not (or are unable to) participate. Unfortunately, these are the communities that are at greatest existential risk – both from flood and from being literally priced out of existence by NFIP.”

State of the Beach Report: Louisiana
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