Your e-mails: Balancing nature, commerce
CNN.com readers divided on rebuilding wetlands
(CNN) -- Development and storms have eroded much of the coastal wetlands that provide "speed bumps" for approaching storms. CNN.com asked readers whether steps should be taken to build them back. Here is a sampling of those responses, some of which have been edited:
Natural wetlands have been "eroded" by man, not storms. If not for developers "speed bumps" would still be in place. Buildings should not be allowed again on these wetlands, but doesn't money always speak louder than nature?
Yes, they should be built back. Wetlands are an important part of maintaining a stable environment. They are like sponges. Wetlands collect a lot of unused rain and storm water and filter it to be used by other wildlife species. To allow them to disappear could cause greater damage to the area in the future. The wetlands are also a home for many wildlife species. There is something to say about "the circle of life." You would think we would not want to mess with that. How would we build it back, not sure, but that is why there are environmentalists.
An effort should be made to replace the wetlands. They provide a unique ecological habitat for a myriad of plant and animal species. In addition, wetlands provide an economic impact from fisheries, tourism, and by reducing the need for municipal infrastructure to filter water and lessen the damage of storms. However, wetlands are not easy to recreate. They form over many years and cannot simply be built. Seventy percent of the "created" or human-made wetlands fail within the first five years.
The importance of New Orleans and the Louisiana coast seems to be lost on many Americans who fail to realize the importance of the Port of New Orleans and Louisiana's oil and gas industry to the entire nation. Without that port and the industries, the cost of many goods and services to all Americans would be greatly increased. Are we willing to trade that economic impact to avoid the costs of what should have been done previously? Would we have been happy for the costs of preserving the wetlands to have been added all along to the costs of our gasoline, natural gas, grain, etc.?
Since the wetlands were here long before we came along, and did their job well, we only mess things up by trying to manage them. I think it is about time that we try to live with nature and not try to make nature conform to us. We will lose.
Steps should certainly be taken to rebuild the coastal wetlands that have been eroded over time due to river dredging, oil drilling, and other human progressions. The wetlands of both Louisiana and Florida, as well as many of the coastal states, have proven valuable to the fishing and shipping communities that live off of these unique ecosystems. Multiple studies have been completed over the decades that have revealed the impact coastal wetlands have on diminishing the height and force of an extreme storm surge, such as the one seen with Katrina, as well as revealed other environmental benefits, such as the preservation of unique land and aquatic wildlife. It isn't as if the coastal communities who rely on the wetlands for protection and economic vitalization are choosing to live in dangerous places. They live in communities that at one time or another were safe, but have become dangerous or risky to live in over time because of human progressions that have spread the erosion processes of the coastal wetlands, i.e. refineries, river navigation, etc. It is only fair that we return to nature whatever we have taken from it for our advancement. The cost may be huge, but does it honestly compare to the long-term economical, environmental and cultural costs? Somehow, I don't think it does.
No, it is a waste of money and time and is useless. Another storm will just come years later and wipe it out again. Just live there and expect your house to be taken away or move further inland. If anyone says "yes" then they are complete idiots. Years ago none of this existed and people just lived a life and Mother Nature took her course. Leave it be and let her destroy what she wants to destroy as it was meant to be that way. Stop adding things back that Mother Nature takes away. The coastal wetlands will do nothing anyway when a Category 5 storm is coming, so if you are stupid enough to try to rebuild them then just build a concrete bunker out in the middle of the ocean so everyone can live happily ever after. Let nature take its own course!
Of course the lost wetlands need to be replaced. Not only will they provide a buffer against future flooding, they will provide habitat for various species of wildlife. Maybe the Army Corps of Engineers could rebuild them as a sort of "flood plain." Yes, there would be some lost land to this, but it would be worth it in the event of another severe hurricane.
Rebuilding the affected coastal wetlands is a difficult question to answer. The obvious answer is yes they should. The invaluable wildlife support is much more important than a "buffer" to an incoming storm surge. The reason it is a difficult question is because the local residents and the government have decided to change the natural process of the river deltas and other wetlands for development. Since the natural process of regeneration of the coastal wetlands is no longer allowed to happen then, we should by all means rebuild the deltas and wetlands. A readily available source of material is all of that "junk" from the hurricane aftermath, use it to build more reefs and as a base for sediment and sands to be slowed at, and build up to a "natural" reef again.
It is obvious that our nation and entire world need to take lessons from the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Sportsmen organizations have been working to conserve and rebuild costal wetlands for years. Hopefully people will wake up and understand that these organizations are not only about supporting habitat and nesting areas for game but for the well being of man.
I definitely think that the wetlands should not be built back. Nature created them and nature destroyed them. If men "rebuilt" them they're no longer natural, but could be considered manmade. Years from now we'll be able to look at that area and remember it as a part of history.
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