[StBernard] LRA Task Force Calls on FEMA to Cover Marine Debris Cleanup in Louisiana
westley at da-parish.com
Fri Jul 20 22:29:04 EDT 2007
LRA Task Force Calls on FEMA to Cover Marine Debris Cleanup in Louisiana
BATON ROUGE, La. (July 20, 2007) - The Louisiana Recovery Authority's (LRA) Environmental Task Force unanimously passed a resolution yesterday requesting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) work with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) to expedite funding for Louisiana's Marine Debris Removal program and implement the "mission assignment" model for coordinating marine debris removal that has proven effective in other Gulf Coast states since the hurricanes of 2005.
"We've gotten engaged on the issue of marine debris cleanup because once again we find ourselves in the position of asking for equity," said LRA Board Member and Environmental Task Force Chairman Tom Henning. "We are asking for nothing more and nothing less than FEMA has provided to our neighbors in Mississippi and Alabama. This is of critical importance to the recovery of our commercial fishing industry, but it's also become a safety issue."
Fishing boats, 18-wheeler tractor trailers, refrigerators and even displaced homes remain in Louisiana's waterways nearly two years after the storms of 2005, making them hazardous both to commercial and recreational fisherman. Land-based debris remains littered on shores and throughout marshlands and waterways.
The resolution passed yesterday by the LRA Task Force requests that FEMA:
* Completely fund Louisiana's Marine Debris Removal program, paying for the identification and removal of storm-related debris in the state's inland shores, waterways, bayous, and coastal waters up to a distance of four miles in state waters;
* Recognize the work and "mission assignment" model that has been in place in Mississippi and Alabama and immediately grant a one-year extension for all marine-related debris work in Louisiana for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; and
* Evaluate and reimburse state, parish and local agencies for marine debris-related costs they have incurred to identify and cleanup the state's waterways and marine environments.
Without a statewide marine debris removal program in place, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), has had to commit a portion of federal monies previously designated for rehabilitating critical oyster and shrimp habitats and monitoring fisheries recovery to marine debris removal.
"The presence of marine debris in many of our waters since the storms continues to threaten the safety of commercial and recreational fishermen and boaters attempting to use our traditional fishing grounds" said John Roussel, LDWF Deputy Assistant Secretary.
By taking the actions requested by the LRA task force, FEMA will ensure that 100 percent of the critical National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funds earmarked by Congress and provided to the state of Louisiana for rehabilitating habitat and monitoring fisheries recovery can be used as intended.
As required in order to qualify for federal funding from FEMA, Louisiana has: confirmed storm-related debris sites with specific coordinate points; demonstrated a verifiable economic losses from the storm; and demonstrated that this debris represents a threat to public safety and navigation.
The LSU Sea Grant Program and the Lake Catherine Civic Association are working with federal and state agencies to identify, gather and plot GPS locations of storm-related debris to provide further evidence to FEMA that there is a vital need for funding the Louisiana Marine Debris Removal program.
The complete resolution is available online at: http://lra.louisiana.gov/assets/enviro/DebrisRemovalResolution071907.pdf <http://keelson.eatel.net/websites/la.gov/action.cfm?md=communication&task=addClick&msg_ID=4158&ID=dUi2ejiSnlnK&redirect=http://lra.louisiana.gov/assets/enviro/DebrisRemovalResolution071907.pdf> .
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana, claiming 1,464 lives, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the planning and coordinating body that was created in the aftermath of these storms by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to lead one of the most extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The LRA is a 33-member body which is coordinating across jurisdictions, supporting community recovery and resurgence, ensuring integrity and effectiveness, and planning for the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana.
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