U.S. Corps of Engineers flood protection study no longer includes mandatory buyouts in southwest Louisiana; coastal officials relieved

To the relief of some state coastal board members, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday that a study on how to provide coastal restoration and flood protection to southwest Louisiana no longer includes mandatory buyouts of any property.

In initial drafts of the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Feasibility Study, as many as 400 structures would have been under mandatory buyout orders.

That number was whittled down to 23 structures, but the Corps continued to face objections that certain homes or businesses couldn’t get some kind of protection.

At the Wednesday state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority meeting, the Corps presented a new draft that makes the plan voluntary and removes all mandatory buyout recommendations.

Paul Varnado, Corps project manager, said the $3.3 billion plan includes $2.4 billion for ecosystem restoration, which will include shoreline protection, marsh creation and the reforestation of coastal ridges known as cheniers.

An additional $900,000 will be used for flood risk management, which primarily will include elevating buildings.

The plan would be paid with 65 percent federal money and 35 percent Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority money.

The feasibility study shows the project would reduce the risk for 4,000 structures, about 3,500 homes and 500 businesses.

The schedule for completion will have the feasibility plan to the state for a 30-day review May 20 and then back to the Corps for approval July 20, Varnado said.

Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.

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