Lafourche Coastal Restoration Project Receives Private Funding

December 31, 2014

Organizers of a new Louisiana coastal restoration project hope to show how these kind of projects can be done swiftly and somewhat cheaply through private investment, rather than solely depending on government to lead the way.

A demonstration project to reinforce a small portion of shoreline in Lafourche Parish next year also will help identify stumbling blocks to attracting private financing and show that it has real possibilities in the coastal restoration game.

It’s part of a larger effort by the America’s Wetland Foundation to work on ways to get private money invested in coastal restoration work, especially in areas that don’t top the priority lists in state or federal plans.

“Our worry as a foundation is coastal restoration,” Val Marmillion, America’s Wetland Foundation’s managing director, told The Advocate. “We want to see more restoration, and we want it quickly.”

In early November, the America’s Wetland Foundation brought together private landowners, state and federal representatives, business leaders, investment bankers and the oil and gas industry to talk about new ways of getting restoration projects done.

The predominant thinking about restoration work is that it’s done either by a government agency or by certain nonprofit groups like Ducks Unlimited or the Nature Conservancy.

The America’s Wetland Foundation is trying to expand that thinking by showing how coastal restoration can be packaged, sold and built through private investment, such as private equity firms that broker credits based off the restoration work.

“It’s the perfect opportunity for the private sector to get involved,” said Sidney Coffee, a foundation senior adviser. It would be especially valuable for parishes that may not be significantly included in the state’s master plan, such as areas in central Louisiana like Terrebonne Parish, she said.

“It’s not that people are against what we are talking about; it’s just that it’s not prioritized for funding,” Marmillion agreed. “We don’t think there’s time on the clock for most of these areas.”

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