What is the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) or
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
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.
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
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 155 CWPPRA coastal restoration projects in Louisiana, helping to
build new land and demonstrating the use of new techniques or materials.
What is currently being done by CWPPRA to restore coastal Louisiana?
There are currently 153 active CWPPRA projects. In September 2016, 108 projects
were completed, benefiting over approximately 100,000 acres. 17 projects are currently under
active construction with 23 additional projects approved and in the engineering and design phase of development.
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
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
Photo by Guy Fanguy
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.
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.
How much land has been restored through CWPPRA in coastal Louisiana?
Since 1990, a total of approximately 100,000 acres have been created and over 355,647
acres have been enhanced in Louisiana using CWPRRA funds.
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.
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.
How do I contact my legislators and government officials to let them know my views
on coastal land loss in Louisiana?
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.
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.
Where can I get educational materials about coastal wetland land loss and restoration
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.
What is the actual text of the Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration
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
What informational products does CWPPRA produce?
CWPPRA produces a variety of informational and educational materials. Twice 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
How can I subscribe to the WaterMarks magazine?
To have WaterMarks delivered to your home, send your mailing address to
How can I subscribe to the “CWPPRA Newsflash?”
To have the CWPPRA Newsflash delivered to your email address,
request a subscription.
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 Mirka Zapletal at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call (337) 266-8623.
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.
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
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
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…
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
How do I bid on a Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA)
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
U.S. Army Engineer District, New Orleans
P.O. Box 60267
New Orleans, LA 70160-0267
Phone: (504) 862-2077
Fax: (504) 862-1608
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
3737 Government Street
Alexandria, Louisiana 71302
Phone: (318) 473-7756
Fax: (318) 473-7747
Where can I find answers to other questions I may have about Louisiana’s coastal
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.