THIBODAUX, LA – On April 16, 2018, the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) will share with the public its updated guidance document called a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). Since 1990 the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) has been engaged in the protection and restoration of the 4.2 million acres of land and water that lie between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers which has been at the heart of Louisiana’s land loss crisis. The modernized Plan has been revised and is now ready for public review.

This amended CCMP continues to work specifically to overcome the priority issues identified for the estuary by enlisting all of the effected stakeholders, establishing priorities, and synchronizing efforts. The priority problems addressed in the CCMP are: hydrologic modification, sediment reduction, habitat loss, eutrophication, pathogen contamination, toxic substances, and changes in living resources. The 36 Action Plans contained in this document work to directly address these problems as well as numerous institutional and societal factors which contribute to them.

The BTNEP Action Plans are arguably the most important element in the CCMP. The Action Plans identify work to address solutions to solve the seven identified priority problems. The Action Plans are a product of an ongoing attempt to establish consensus among stakeholders of the estuary to effectively meet the estuary’s most critical management needs related to ecology. With more than a quarter of a century of experience with implementing Action Plans, BTNEP is uniquely positioned to maintain its leadership role in the measures that improve the wetlands and the guide people who live here.

These Action Plans serve as an advisory set of plans to aid as direction for the preservation and restoration efforts throughout the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary System over the next years. The Action Plans recognize that communities have pledged to the ongoing stewardship of our estuary and work to grow on the efforts of the past while looking to the future. Using the combination of science-based wisdom coupled with consensus-driven decision making, these Action Plans make a bold attempt to continue to make improvements to properly manage the abundant resources.

The Action Plans have been divided into four main categories in keeping with the BTNEP Action Plan Team members’ directives. The categories of Action Plans include: Coordinated Planning and Implementation, Ecological Management, Sustained Recognition and Citizen Involvement, and Economic Growth. Each of these categories contains varying numbers of Action Plans that adequately meet the needs of the BTNEP Management Conference guidelines.

Each of the Action Plans contains several elements including: objectives, background/major issues related to the topics, descriptions of the actions to be taken, lead agencies responsible for implementing the actions, timelines and milestones, possible range of costs and sources of funding, and performance measures The CCMP has been updated using the talents of 47 different state and federal agency personnel who live and work in Louisiana, local business owners, and interested members of the public. Nine committees worked to create a guidance document that is robust, well balanced, and far-reaching.

Through the work of BTNEP the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of Louisiana, and local partners continue to protect the estuary from further degradation and to undertake programs and projects that check human-made damage that had already occurred to habitats throughout the estuary. The base funding for BTNEP is provided through EPAs Section 320 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and a State match in funds. This updated CCMP reaffirms the commitment of local people and their ongoing love of the land, water, culture, and each other that have made the estuary’s perils an international issue.

As changes continue to manifest themselves in environmental exposures, BTNEP stands ready to address the issues through a science-based, stakeholder-led, consensus-driven plan of actions that uses a unique partnership approach focused on the estuary’s rich cultural, economic, and natural resources. Perhaps the people of Louisiana will help other populations adapt to changing ecosystem dynamics.

Many opportunities exist to make positive changes to improve our ecosystem and human interaction with nature. The public is invited to view the new CCMP and provide comment on the new document and to engage with BTNEP in its efforts. The review period will be open for 30 days ending May 15, 2018. To view and/or comment on the new CCMP visit the web at www.CCMP.BTNEP.NET. For additional information or to view a print copy of the document, you may contact the BTNEP office at 985-447-0868.

BTNEP is one of the 28 national estuary programs in the United States. All or parts of sixteen Louisiana parishes are located in the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary system. The organization was established under the EPA Clean Water Act to protect coastal resources. BTNEP is a partnership of government, businesses, scientists, conservation organizations, agricultural interests and individuals for the preservation, protection, and restoration for the Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary in southeast Louisiana. For more information on BTNEP, visit our website page at or like us on Facebook.