A public university near Louisiana’s coast will open a facility aimed at studying eroding shores, Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced.
Nicholls State University in Thibodaux will operate the coastal studies center, in partnership with the state-run Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Edwards, CPRA chief Chip Kline and Nicholls State President Jay Clune officialized the partnership Monday.
The center will be the closest facility of its kind to the Gulf of Mexico. Students will create models and focus on bringing resources from the Atchafalaya Basin to the Terrebonne Basin, where sediment loss is causing land to wither at record rates.
“This is the beginning of a partnership where we can focus our attention on the Atchafalaya River and the potential for it to be a restoration tool for the Terrebonne Basin,” Edwards said in a statement. “The Terrebonne Basin has the highest rate of land loss of any basin along our coast, and it presents some of the most difficult conditions for us to implement projects.”
The Nicholls State announcement comes a little more than a year after Louisiana State University opened a center for river studies. Supporters say the environmental effort across university systems speaks to a wider interest in shielding a state where residents flaunt their proximity to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.
“It is the ideal location and partnership for this important initiative,” state Sen. Norby Chabert (R-Houma) said.
Recent averages estimate that Louisiana loses roughly a football field of land every 100 minutes.
“We’re going to move as fast as we can, and we’re going to maximize the role of science in what we do,” Edwards said. “If we don’t maximize the role of science, then we’re going to maximize the role of politics — and that’s where we’d make the biggest mistake.”
Exactly when Nicholls State will open its coastal studies center remains unclear.