Conservation Update: The 50 Year, $50 billion Plan to Save the Louisiana Coast

Louisiana released its long-awaited master plan to permanently address the nation's most severe fish, wildlife and economic disaster: The destruction of the great Mississippi River estuary and the rest of the state's coast.

This incredible resource is the winter home or stopover point for 70 percent of migratory waterfowl in North America. It is critical to 90 percent of all marine species in the Gulf such as reds, tuna, snapper, tarpon, amberjack and kings. It is also the top tonnage seafood landings in the contiguous U.S. and produces 50 percent of the nation's wild shrimp crop, 35 percent of its blue claw crabs and 40 percent of its oysters. All 110 species of neo-tropical migrants use it with 50 species nesting there and 60 using it as a stop-over on long migrations.

But it's also critical to the nation's economy. The coast is the top domestic producer of oil and gas. Ninety percent of the nation's energy production comes through the coast in pipelines, and it contains 50 percent of the nation's refining capacity.

This huge wetlands zone was the natural storm surge buffer that protected cities and that industrial infrastructure for generations. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita showed what can happen now that so much of it has been lost.

Half of this resource base--some 1800-square miles--has been lost since the 1930s, and is still being lost at the rate of 16 square miles a year.

The joint state-federal projects outlined in the plan could eventually turn that around within 50 years--if we start soon.

Keeping the Grand Canyon Region Grand

Score another victory for sportsmen's conservation groups: The Obama Administration announced a 20-year moratorium on new mining claims on one-million acres of public lands fish and wildlife habitat surrounding the Grand Canyon National Park.

Hunters and anglers joined wide coalition of environmental groups pushing to keep this important fish and wildlife habitat free from new development.

"Sportsmen from all over the country vie for the permits issued by the Arizona Game and Fish Department to hunt elk and mule deer each year," said Dr. Bennett Brown, a big-game hunter and field representative of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "These hunters spend millions of dollars annually pursuing their quarry in one of the most spectacular landscapes remaining in North America."

As with other resource issues, the group is not opposed to all development. Instead it is demanding a responsible approach with consideration to fish, wildlife and recreational values, which in some areas that are especially sensitive may mean a ban. The approach is outlined by Sportsmen United for Sensible Mining.