An effort to reconnect Louisiana wetlands to historical levels is taking place at Louisiana State University, where a 10,000-square-foot replica of the Mississippi Delta is now housed. Researchers are working to understand how man-made changes are impacting the Mississippi River and surrounding wetlands. Nexus Media News’ Josh Landis reports as part of our climate change series, "Peril & Promise."
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As we've been reporting in our series, experts and researchers are exploring a number of ways to address rising waters in the states along the Mississippi River. LSU Professor Clint Wilson is tackling Louisiana's issues on the mighty Mississippi on a more manageable scale. We have more from Nexis Media's Josh Landis, who had a tour of a unique replica.
On this 10,000 square foot replica of the Mississippi Delta, he shows me the vanishing barrier islands, which used to help protect southern Louisiana from storms. In partnership with the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the faculty here created this model, as well as the Center for River Studies. It's a multidisciplinary effort to understand the ever-changing nature of the Delta, with a goal of a sustainable future for its inhabitants, commerce and wetlands.
We're trying to help the state understand river sediment diversions and how sand moves down river. The idea is to reconnect the river back to these wetland areas. This could be thought of as controlled flooding. I don't mean we're trying to flood people or increase the risk to anybody. You have large gated structures sitting here that replace the levee. You open up these gates when the river's high and that sand is moving down to reconnect the river to the wetlands, like it historically was, you know, before we leveed it. Sand is basically now dropping out and is nourishing these areas. This very channelization of the river, in some cases over-engineering of the river, I don't think people quite understand the footprint, how complex or how unnatural it is, I should say.
Yesterday's imperfect, unpredictable Mississippi has become today's highly-engineered super-highway, carrying America's fortunes around the world.