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Your e-mails: 'Learn from our mistakes'

CNN.com readers offer differing suggestions

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• Gallery: Landmarks over time
• Storm & Flood: Making history
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(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 rebuild them. Here is a sampling of those responses, some of which have been edited:

It's terrible to me to think of the loss of New Orleans, as I grew up there. But I'd much rather see us spend "my" money rebuilding the wetlands than rebuilding cities on sand. "Build not your home upon the sand but upon a rock." Most of us who actually work hard for the pittance we earn simply cannot afford to continue rebuilding homes and businesses for those who choose to live on a delta, coastline, fault line, or national forest.
Suzanne Core, Cripple Creek, Colorado

Rebuilding Louisiana's coastal wetlands offers an opportunity to rebuild more than just a natural buffer to approaching storms. Those wetlands destroyed by short-sighted development are vital to the life histories of many marine animals and the industries dependant on them. They would also provide living space for many "noncommercial" species facing unrelenting habitat destruction. To those who say Nature can take care of itself, Nature has little defense against a bulldozer. Learn from our mistakes, and let's give these areas the appreciation and respect they deserve.
David, North Charleston, South Carolina

I live in Florida and see everyday the destruction development has on coastal areas. My thoughts are simple, rebuild the damaged wetlands as a barrier, but do not allow commercial or residential development. I agree that for every disaster, insurance premiums rise -- why should I have to pay for someone else's lifestyle? If you choose to live close to the coast, you are choosing to place yourself closer to the forces of nature.
Toni Anderson, Hilliard, Florida

Wetlands are a major source of American food and need to be protected for that reason alone. Congress needs to back the Corps of Engineers so they can channel development away from wetlands. Today they exist without purpose, rubber stamping almost every wetland permit. Restoring and preserving wetlands should be a national priority.
Catherine Driessen, Kimberly, Wisconsin

Isn't the ocean reclaiming its own territory anyway? Why are people arrogantly or ignorantly building up shorelines when we have professionals claiming a rise in the ocean levels every year? We've partly done this to ourselves; our world and climate are changing. But what I don't understand is how people can continue to build in these areas and have their damage compensated by taxpayers. If private citizens want to build in those areas, let them do so and insure it from their own pocket. Public or state contractors should be listening to those environmentalists that are shouting their concerns about global warming and its effects. Remember "The Day After Tomorrow"?
Charles, Suffolk, Virginia

Considering most of the comments against wetland rebuilding posted on the feedback page, I do not believe there is an accurate picture of the destruction that has occurred by unnatural processes (by us). Much of the Gulf Coast region has been prevented from regenerating itself by our "progress." We can build smarter without breaking the bank. Rita, Katrina, Ivan, and other hurricanes did not wipe out several hundred square miles of wetlands. We did. If there is no value to the coastal wetlands other than a "speed bump," please consider their value the next time you eat a plate of seafood.
Stephen R., Meridian, Mississippi

Wetlands are of vital importance to the coastal protection. They help to slow down and diminish storm surges, filter water of contaminants, and provide habitat that promote the spawning of fish, shellfish, and keep waterfowl populations up. The benefits are endless, both economic and environmental, that there should be no question, especially in this post-Katrina world, to save and preserve this nation's wetlands.
Jennifer Heller, Washington

Large-scale restoration projects, such as the proposed Third Conveyance Channel are the only projects capable of moving enough silt to build up the deltas we have lost to coastal erosion. And, these channels should rightfully receive 15-20 percent of the Mississippi River water above New Orleans, because when the silt continues flowing down past New Orleans, it drops off the outer continental shelf at the mouth of the river, not helping anyone.
Henri Boulet, Larose, Louisiana

Yes. The rich natural resources of the region and the culture that they nurture, resources and culture that benefit and are enjoyed by many throughout the nation, depend on it. Restoration is vital to the productivity of the region and, based on engineering and science, is doable with the support of the American people and a commitment from Louisiana citizens to make the adjustments and sacrifices to make it work. Restoration is linked directly to the feasibility of securing flood protection sufficient to support commerce and economic activity that supports the region and the nation.
Randy Lanctot, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The loss of the state's coastal wetlands is a complicated issue. No matter how much money is thrown at the issue, some areas can be restored while others simply cannot be restored at any cost. The state's comprehensive Coast 2005 proposal should be used as a guide and funds spent only where there is some reasonable chance for effective action.
Jay Huner, Boyce, Louisiana

The issue of rebuilding the coastal wetlands is not a choice between nature or business/commerce. Rebuilding the wetlands is the wisest decision for the environment AND for the economy. When wetlands thrive, so does the business of eco-tourism. If the wetlands are reconstructed, the coastal cities will be better protected saving millions (billions?) of dollars in future storm damage and savings perhaps thousands of lives. Healthy wetlands mean cleaner coastal waters and a flourishing fishing industry. It is time to realize that protecting the environment is about far more than hugging trees. Protecting the environment is about the economic health of a region, the physical well-being of area residents, and respect for Mother Nature and her creatures ... including mankind.
Steve, Boulder, Colorado

I live along the Pacific coast in Costa Rica. We have three kilometers of beachfront and one kilometer of river frontage and all is natural forest or mangrove. Much of the forest and mangrove was here when the land was purchased and cleared land was allowed to return to its natural state with species common to this area. There was no planting of foreign species to the area. During the rages of Katrina, Rita and Wilma we, too, were affected indirectly with torrential rains. Our land remained intact with no serious flooding and no erosion. But our neighbors who had cleared wetlands, beachfront and riverfront all received major damage both in property and homes. A lesson to be learned? Definitely! Respect and learn to live with nature and you will be protected. Destroy nature and a high price will be paid.
Diane, Dominical, Costa Rica

Katrina took out 30 miles of land that wasn't wetland but was people's homes and businesses. Do the math on how many storms like that it'll take before your back yard is on the Gulf of Mexico.
Adam, New Orleans, Louisiana

Yes, we should rebuild the wetlands. The Mississippi is the watershed for one-third of our nation's rain. It deposited sediment at the Gulf, creating the marshland, for thousands of years. When we rebuild, serious effort should be made to channel off the sediment all along the coastline to start rebuilding the marshes. In addition to providing a buffer for storms, the wetlands improve water quality, provide habitat for numerous wildlife species and support a multi-billion dollar fishing, sports and tourism industry.
David Lindley, Boerne, Texas

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