The CWPPRA Legislation

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. Since its inception, 210 coastal restoration or protection projects have been authorized, benefiting approximately 100,000 acres in Louisiana. The legislation (Public Law 101-646, Title III CWPPRA) was approved by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by former President George H. W. Bush.

The United States Capitol Building
The United States Capitol in Washington D.C.
Public Domain Image from the Architect of the Capitol

The annual budget for CWPPRA funded restoration has varied through the twenty-five year life span of the Act. The budget has ranged between approximately $30 million per year to nearly $80 million per year. The funded Louisiana 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.

CWPPRA Restoration Techniques

CWPPRA project managers, scientists, and engineers use a variety of techniques to protect, enhance, or restore wetlands. Each restoration project may use one or more techniques to repair delicate wetlands. These techniques include:

  • marsh creation and restoration
  • shoreline protection
  • hydrologic restoration
  • beneficial use of dredged material
  • terracing
  • sediment trapping
  • vegetative planting
  • barrier island restoration
  • bank stabilization

Below is an example of the restoration technique known as the beneficial use of dredged material: CWPPRA Project BA-39 Mississippi River Sediment Delivery – Bayou Dupont

Mississippi River Sediment Delivery
Sediment is used from the Mississippi River to rebuild wetlands in a new location. The red boat near the levee is pumping sediment to the fragile wetlands in top left of the image. The sediment is then used to rebuild marsh that had turned to open water, creating new wetlands.
Sediment Delivery to new marshlands
The sediment from the river is delivered from the river to then newly created marshlands.

CWPPRA Restoration Projects

Since its inception, 210 coastal restoration or protection projects have been authorized, benefiting over approximately 100,000 acres in Louisiana. To view the list of projects and learn more about individual projects visit our project page.

Why Protect Louisiana Wetlands?

Louisiana wetlands are unique and vital ecological assets worth saving. 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. CWPPRA funds have been instrumental in helping 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. 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.

Wetlands also 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.

Egrets in vegetation
A mating pair of egrets

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).

Shrimp in baskets
Example of a shrimp harvest (Photo courtesy of BTNEP)

Although current funding levels do not support all of the necessary restoration required for a sustainable ecosystem, CWPPRA continues to address immediate restoration needs while establishing a foundation of strong science, public participation, and agency cooperation that will continue to serve as the cornerstone of future programs.