By Amy Wold
Advocate staff writer
June 13, 2012
With the signing of Act 588 Tuesday by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the official definition of the Coastal Zone Boundary for Louisiana has been expanded.
The Coastal Zone Boundary is a management tool under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act to keep track of, and sometimes change, work done within a coastal area, such as construction or oil and gas development.
The new boundary increases the size of the Coastal Zone Boundary by 1,887 square miles, which is a 12.6 percent increase in size, said Stephen Chustz, assistant secretary with the Department of Natural Resource’s Office of Coastal Management.
The original boundary was put in place in 1978 and has been adjusted periodically over the years. However, in 2009, Senate Concurrent Resolution 60 passed and directed the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to take another comprehensive look at the boundary.
The previous boundary was more of a negotiated map rather than science-based, Chustz said. For example, a marsh in Terrebonne Parish wasn’t included but pine forests were included, Chustz said of the old map.
In addition to wanting a more science-based boundary, a new map made sense because of changes to the coastal landscapes due to land loss and hurricanes and because the state has a master plan for coastal restoration and protection.
The new boundary is the result of a report done by DNR staff that, among other things, examined soil classification, types of vegetation, elevations, predicted sea level rise and the current coastal landscape.
“It comes down to the science determining where the boundary should be,” Chustz said.
Of the 20 parishes in the coastal zone, eight parishes have coastal areas that have been expanded, two have had a reduction and 10 are unchanged, Chustz said.
The parishes where the coastal zone acreage increased were Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Lafourche and Assumption, according to a DNR news release. Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes had a decrease in coastal zone acreage. There were no boundary changes in Vermilion, St. John, St. James, St. Charles, Jefferson, Plaquemines, Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Ascension parishes, according to information from DNR.
Being inside the Coastal Zone Boundary means a coastal use permit through the DNR Office of Coastal Management is required for some activities. Although single-family homes or camps are exempt from the permit, things like dredging for a dock or building a bulkhead could require a permit.
DNR’s Office of Coastal Management will hold meetings in coastal areas where there are boundary changes to give information about what those changes mean and how permitting requirements might change.
Two meetings scheduled so far are 5:30 p.m. June 20, Mary Danos Theater, 175 Talbot Hall at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux and 1:30 p.m. June 21, Terrebonne Parish Main Library, 151 Library Drive, Houma.
The meetings will start with a one-hour open house, followed by a presentation and a chance to ask questions.
The boundary changes can be seen on DNR’s website at http://dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=928.