About CWPPRA

CWPPRA's Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) or Breaux Act?

    The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act, (CWPPRA pronounced kwǐp-rŭh), is federal legislation enacted in 1990 that is designed to identify, prepare, and fund construction of coastal wetlands restoration projects. These projects provide for the long-term conservation of wetlands and dependent fish and wildlife populations with cost-effective plans for creating, restoring, protecting, or enhancing coastal wetlands. In Louisiana, CWPPRA is often called the “Breaux Act” in honor of U.S. Senator John Breaux, who helped initiate the legislation.

    CWPPRA coastal restoration terracing project

  2. What causes coastal land loss in Louisiana?

    The basic reasons for coastal land loss include both natural causes and human activities. Natural causes include hurricanes, subsidence, wave erosion, sea-level rise and salt-water intrusion. Human activities causing land loss include the construction of a variety of devices that regulate water and sediment deposition in Louisiana. These include the construction of river levees, large water control structures, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, ship canals, and access canals.

  3. Why is CWPPRA important?

    CWPPRA funds help to restore Louisiana’s vanishing wetlands. Approximately 40 percent of the coastal wetlands of the lower forty-eight states are located in Louisiana. Unfortunately, this fragile environment is disappearing at an alarming rate.

    Mating pair of great egrets

    Louisiana has lost up to 40 square miles of marsh per year for several decades – that’s 80 percent of the nation’s annual coastal wetland loss. To date, Louisiana has already lost coastal land area equal to the size of the state of Delaware. This loss is at an average rate of a football field every hour. If the current rate of loss is not slowed by the year 2040, an additional 800,000 acres of wetlands will disappear, and the Louisiana shoreline will advance inland as much as 33 miles in some areas.

    Since 1990, CWPPRA has funded wetland enhancement projects nationwide, designating between $30 and $80 million annually for work in Louisiana alone. As of July 2011, there were over 149 CWPPRA coastal restoration projects in Louisiana, helping to build new land and demonstrating the use of new techniques or materials.

  4. What is currently being done by CWPPRA to restore coastal Louisiana?

    There are currently 149 active CWPPRA projects. In September 2015, 101 projects were completed, benefiting over 97,401 acres. 21 projects are currently under active construction with 22 additional projects approved and in the engineering and design phase of development.

    CWPPRA's first coastal restoration project at the Bayou LaBranche wetlands

  5. Why are Louisiana wetlands important?

    Louisiana wetlands are unique and vital ecological assets. Wetlands act as a storm buffer against hurricanes and storms. They act as flood control devices: holding excess floodwaters during high rainfall (much like a sponge). Wetlands replenish aquifers, and they purify water by filtering out pollutants and absorbing nutrients.

    Wetlands provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. Coastal Louisiana lands are the breeding grounds and nurseries for thousands of species of aquatic life, land animals, and birds of all kinds – including our national symbol, the bald eagle. This ecosystem also provides a migratory habitat for over five million waterfowl each year.

    People also benefit from Louisiana’s coastal lands. Louisiana is responsible for a major part of our nation’s oil and gas production, shipping commerce, fisheries industry, fur harvesting, and oyster production, accounting for over 55,000 jobs and billions of dollars in revenues. Additionally, wetlands are wonderful recreational resources and are part of Louisiana’s growing ecotourism business. To learn more about the economic value of our wetlands, read “The Cost of Doing Nothing” in WaterMarks (Summer 1999) available here

    Louisiana blue crab
    Photo by Guy Fanguy
  6. How can I help?

    There are many ways you can help. The first step is learning about Louisiana’s coastal land loss and restoration efforts. You may also choose to participate in public meetings so your ideas will be heard. You can support restoration projects you believe in, and you can help to protect water cycle, since ninety percent of the rain that falls in coastal Louisiana returns to our wetlands. You can protect the water cycle by properly disposing of household products, sensibly using pesticides, maintaining healthy septic systems, and containing chemical spills. You may also want to volunteer with coastal restoration activities, such as vegetative planting activities, in your area.

    Coastal restoration using vegetative plantings

  7. How can I contribute financially to help conserve and restore coastal Louisiana?

    To contribute financially to conservation and restoration efforts along coastal Louisiana contact one of the coastal wetland stakeholder groups or one of the federal or state CWPPRA partners. Learn more about the coastal wetland stakeholder groups or CWPPRA partners here.

  8. How much land has been restored through CWPPRA in coastal Louisiana?

    Since 1990, a total of approximately 112,000 acres have been created and over 357,246 acres have been protected in Louisiana using CWPRRA funds.

    CWPPRA coastal restoration using sediment diversion at East Bay

  9. What are the basic techniques used to restore coastal wetlands in Louisiana?

    The most common types of restoration techniques include water diversion, shoreline protection, barrier island restoration, outfall management, dredged material/marsh creation, hydrologic restoration, sediment and nutrient trapping, marsh management, and vegetative planting.

    CWPPRA coastal restoration terracing project

  10. Where do CWPPRA funds come from?

    CWPPRA project planning activities are 100% federally funded. Once a project is approved, cost sharing is 85% Federal and 15% non-Federal. The non-Federal funds are often State funds.

  11. How do I contact my legislators and government officials to let them know my views on coastal land loss in Louisiana?

    You can contact your federal legislators by visiting the Web at http://www.congress.org
    You can contact your state legislators by visiting the Web at http://www.legis.state.la.us
    You can contact parish government by visiting the Web at http://www.lpgov.org/directory
  12. Why is CWPPRA also known as the Breaux Act?

    In Louisiana, CWPPRA is also known as the Breaux Act because two U.S. senators from Louisiana, U. S. Senator John Breaux and U. S. Senator J. Bennett Johnson, were instrumental in getting the legislation initiated and passed. Senator John Breaux has since played an active role in keeping the Louisiana coastal land loss issue an active concern among fellow governmental officials and American citizens. Senator Breaux has also been an advocate for restoration activities taken on by CWPPRA. In keeping with his commitment to coastal restoration, Senator Breaux has often served as a speaker and Master of Ceremonies at CWPPRA project dedications.

    Retired Senator John Breaux speaking at CWPPRA dedication ceremony

  13. Are other areas of the United States also experiencing similar habitat loss problems?

    Coastal land loss does occur in other areas of the United States but not at such an alarming rate. Puget Sound in Washington, Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, San Francisco Bay in California, Galveston Bay in Texas, the Hudson-Raritan Estuary near New York and New Jersey, Long Island Sound in New York, land near the Gulf of Maine, North Carolina estuaries, Tampa Bay, the Florida Everglades, as well as many other wetland areas have experienced habitat loss. Managing any of these delicate habitats is a complex process.

  14. Where can I get educational materials about coastal wetland land loss and restoration in Louisiana?

    Educational materials are available through the CWPPRA Outreach Committee and the Louisiana Wetland Education Coalition. To learn more visit our education page or email us.

  15. What is the actual text of the Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA)?

    Click on the following link to view the actual text of the CWPPRA Authorizing Bill: Public Law 101-646, Title III at Cornell Law Library

    http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/16/ch59A.html

    CWPPRA Raccoon Island Breakwaters demonstration project

  16. What informational products does CWPPRA produce?

    CWPPRA produces a variety of informational and educational materials. Three times a year the CWPPRA Outreach Committee oversees the production WaterMarks, a magazine covering topics related to coastal land and habitat loss. Additionally, CWPPRA manages a listserver called the “CWPPRA Newsflash” and oversees the production of brochures. CWPPRA project reports, fact sheets, posters, public service announcements, educational CDs, and lessons. CWPPRA also works with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to produce maps related to coastal land loss and restoration activities. To learn more about informational and educational products contact us at LaCoast@nwrccom.cr.usgs.gov

    CWPPRA Outreach materials including fact sheets, brochure and educational CD

  17. How can I subscribe to the WaterMarks magazine?

    To have WaterMarks delivered to your home, contact Kelia Bingham at lacoast@nwrccom.cr.usgs.gov or call (337) 266-8623.

  18. How can I subscribe to the “CWPPRA Newsflash?”

    To have the CWPPRA Newsflash delivered to your email address, request a subscription.

  19. How can I get a presenter to come and speak to my organization about coastal land loss and CWPPRA restoration projects?

    To schedule a speaker, contact Kelia Bingham at lacoast@nwrccom.cr.usgs.gov or call (337) 266-8623.

  20. What is the CWPPRA Task Force?

    The CWPPRA Task Force manages the CWPPRA program. The Task Force is composed of the State of Louisiana and five Federal agencies: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Learn more about the organization of the CWPPRA Task Force and its subcommittees.

  21. How does the Mississippi River affect the Louisiana coast and its wetlands?

    During ancient times the Mississippi River would naturally overflow its banks in the springtime, providing new sediments and nutrients to the coastal area from 32 interior states and southern Canada. Over past centuries, a tremendous amount of suspended soil was deposited in the shallow Gulf of Mexico, eventually creating new land in south Louisiana.

    The Mississippi River system is now controlled with a series of levees, so the majority of sediment the river carries down is dropped off the continental shelf into the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico. Thus, Louisiana’s wetland is basically experiencing sediment starvation. Current CWPPRA restoration activities are helping to change this situation.

    The Mississippi River has been the lifeblood of the Louisiana wetlands for thousands of years. Maintaining the delicate balance between human activities and natural processes along the Mississippi River may be the environmental challenge of this century.

    Satellite image of the birdsfoot delta of the Mississippi River

  22. How do you want your Web site cited in the list of references for my research?

    Use the following example to construct your citation:

    Last name of author, First initial, Year, Title of Article, Title of Magazine (if using one) including month, year and issue number, CWPPRA, available at http://www.LaCoast.gov… … ….htm.

  23. What are DOQQs and how can I get copies?

    DOQQs are Digital Orthophoto Quarter Quadrangles which can be downloaded here (choose Aerial Photography). These images are in a Multi-resolution Seamless Image Database (MrSID) format that requires ArcView 3.1 or later for viewing. These DOQQs were made by the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office. If you do not want to download the files from our site, you may contact the office at:

    Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office
    Office of the Governor
    150 Third Street, Suite 405
    Baton Rouge, LA 70801
    Web site: http://www.losco.state.la.us
    Phone: (225) 219-5800
    Fax: (225) 219-5802

    Also, the DOQQs index for southern Louisiana can be found at Atlas: The Louisiana Statewide GIS or http://atlas.lsu.edu/. That site contains index maps to help you pick the desired DOQQs. You can download them http://atlas.lsu.edu/doqq/

  24. How do I bid on a Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Project?

    There are basically three agencies responsible for the bids that go to the Technical Committee. The Technical Committee (TC) is established by the Task Force (TF) to provide advice and recommendations for execution of the Program and projects from a number of technical perspectives, including: engineering, environmental, economic, real estate, construction, operation and maintenance, and monitoring concerns.

    The following three organizations should have information on how you can bid on Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) projects.

    Louisiana Department of Natural Resources
    P.O. Box 44487
    Baton Rouge, LA 70804
    Phone: (225) 342-7308
    Fax: (225) 342-6801

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    U.S. Army Engineer District, New Orleans
    P.O. Box 60267
    New Orleans, LA 70160-0267
    Phone: (504) 862-2077
    Fax: (504) 862-1608

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    USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
    3737 Government Street
    Alexandria, Louisiana 71302
    Phone: (318) 473-7756
    Fax: (318) 473-7747

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    Learn More

  25. Where can I find answers to other questions I may have about Louisiana’s coastal land loss?

    You may want to start by checking our Links page or you may e-mail us at LaCoast@nwrccom.cr.usgs.gov and we will be glad to help you.