Mississippi River Birdfoot Delta UVVR
In the Mississippi River Birdfoot Delta, there is intense vegetation loss in marshes farthest away from the river, as indicated by high values of UVVR (shown in pink). In the past, these marshes were naturally replenished by the Mississippi River sediment supply, but human activities have disrupted this natural process—causing these sediments to instead go straight down the river’s channel and into the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which hit Louisiana August 29, 2005, and September 24, 2005, further damaged this already fragile marsh system and destroyed hundreds of square miles of marshland. Coastal Louisiana continues to lose protective wetlands at an alarming rate, leaving coastal communities with fewer natural defenses against hurricanes and storms. The UVVR data shows land and resource managers which marshes are the most vulnerable to loss.
This information can be used to inform decisions about marsh restoration efforts and human activities and development in the Mississippi River Birdfoot Delta and coastal Louisiana. Restoring and preserving salt marsh health along the coast is essential in protecting Louisiana from future destruction from storms and hurricanes, especially as climate change exacerbates these natural hazards.