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Web Quest: Louisiana Wetlands - An American Resource


In the past century Louisiana has lost more than one million acres from its coastal zone because of human and natural factors that have changed the fragile ecosystem. If this loss continues, a valuable resource required for essential natural processes will vanish.

shrimp boat

Louisiana enjoys a heritage of family and friends, hunting and fishing, cooking and community. These have flourished with the prosperity that comes from living near the rich marshes, estuaries and fossil fuel stores. For the people who call this land home, the cost of taking no action on coastal land loss is high. With each passing year, the cost will increase.

The Task

Your task is to learn more about the fight to keep coastal Louisiana on the US map. You will also learn about how scientists share information with the public. There will be some technical questions: about math and science, about language, and about people and culture. At the end of this quest your teacher may ask you create an electronic computer generated slide show presentation so pay careful attention and take good notes.

Fort Pike

The Quest

The Louisiana coast has been divided into four regions defined by Coast 2050, a strategic plan designed to create a sustainable coastal Louisiana. Using the September 2002 WaterMarks, answer the following questions or statements.

  1. Which major city is located in Region 1?
  2. Name three causes for the deteriorating marshes and swamps in Region 1. (Page 5) Breton Island
  3. Read aloud page 8 & 9 "A Case Study: Bayou LaBranche Wetlands Restoration" then answer the following questions:
    1. What material was used to restore 436 acres of wetlands in St. Charles Parish?
    2. Which two hurricanes during the 1960's contributed to the land loss on the south side of Lake Pontchartrain?
    3. Compare the preconstruction and post-construction picture. In your own words, describe the change from November 1993 to November 1997.
    4. Do you think the project was successful? Explain why or why not.
  4. Using the June 2002 WaterMarks, answer the following questions or statements:
    1. Of the 32 projects listed on page 7, how many have a completion date listed?
    2. Write a mathematical formula to calculate the percentage of projects with completion dates listed.
    3. Calculate what percentage of the projects have an identified completion date.
    4. When scientists and engineers work on coastal restoration projects, they always want to share construction status with the public. Identify three (3) terms that are used to describe construction status.
    5. You will notice that for each issue of WaterMarks there is an interview with an important scientist, citizen, political or community leader. The Region Two Watermarks interview (Page 12) is with Benny Roussell, Parish President of Plaquemines Parish. Why do civic leaders need to be informed about scientific happenings in their communities?
    West Bay Sediment Diversion
  5. Using the May 2001 WaterMarks article titled "Region 3- The Land and Its People" (Page 3), answer the following questions or statements:
    1. Identify the seven Acadiana parishes in this area.
    2. The Atchafalya River is the largest distributary or river branch flowing away from the main stream of the Mississippi River. Which man-made structure(s) controls the flow of water between the Atchafalya River and the Mississippi River?
    3. The culture of Louisiana's people is unique and has been shaped by the interaction of a broad range of nationalities. Name 6 of the nationalities that have blended together for more than 200 years to create Louisiana's distinct culture.
    4. This magazine is filled with wonderful pictures and aerial photos. Why are pictures important to a publication? Select one picture and explain its significance to you.
  6. Using the November 2000 WaterMarks article titled " A Case Study: Cameron-Creole Watershed Project" (Page 7), answer the following questions or statements. You will need to pay particular attention to the graphs and charts in the article.
    1. How many alligator nests were identified in 1989? 1999?
    2. Explain the change in salinity rates from 1989 to 1999.
    3. What is one cause of the salinity rate increase?
    4. Waterfowl numbers of the 1990's, when compared to 1989, increase an average of 77%. What caused this increase?
    5. What two types of graphs appear within this article?
  7. Using the November 2000 WaterMarks article titled "Looking to the Future" (Page 10), answer the following questions:
    1. Which US senator is responsible for getting legislation authorized for millions of dollars to be spent to help with Louisiana's coastal wetland restoration activities?
    2. Bonus: How long was this senator in office? Note: This answer is not on this Web site.
    John Breaux
  8. After viewing two Public Service Announcements (PSAs) from the LaCoast Web site, write a 30 second PSA.
    1. PSA Script:
    2. Name the celebrity you would use.
    3. Identify seven pictures you would include in your PSA.
  9. View the video "Land Loss Update" and answer the following questions:
    1. How do you feel about losing a football field of Louisiana every 38 minutes?
    2. How do you think this land loss will affect life in Louisiana in the next 5 years? In 10 years? In 20 years?
    Sabine Refuge rock dike by Industrial Complex
  10. Using the Summer 1999 WaterMarks in the article titled "Louisiana Offshore Oil and Gas Activity" (bottom of Page 4), answer the following questions:
    1. What are the six factors that contribute to Louisiana's land loss problems?
  11. Using the Summer 1999 WaterMarks "Other Impacts from Coastal Wetland Loss" (bottom of Page 8), answer the following question:
    1. Louisiana and the nation's economy has much to lose as Louisiana's coastal wetlands are lost.  What are three industries that are affiliated with Louisiana's coastal areas?
  12. Using the Winter 2000 WaterMarks, name the three of the four general project groups. (Hint: Page 6) Pecan Island Terracing
  13. Questions 13 a-d Use the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Web site "Project List" to answer the following questions or statements:
    • Name two Louisiana coastal parishes you are interested in and explain why.
    • Name the six Louisiana parishes that currently have the largest number of coastal restoration projects planned or in progress in their communities.
    • What does this number of projects indicate about land loss in this area of the state?
    • Which project(s) is/are occurring in every coastal parish listed in the chart? Oaks Avery Vegetation at Tigre Lagoon 2003
  14. Questions 14 a & b Use Coastwide Nutria Control Program (PDF 1.76 MB) and Nutria, Eating Louisiana's Coast (PDF) to answer the following questions:
    • What are nutria? Why are they a problem to coastal Louisiana?
    • Why do you think the Nutria Control Program is conducted across the state?
  15. Choose three additional Web sites from the links in the blue box below that contain interesting information about coastal studies and the environment.