Lafourche Parish is one of Louisiana’s most diverse parishes both in terms of geography and population, with two-thirds of its area being on land and one-third water; it’s also influenced by a rich Native American history. That geographic diversity includes marshes, sandy ridges, bodies of water and natural levees that help give Louisiana its nickname, “Sportsman's Paradise.” Lafourche Parish includes a natural habitat for a range of wildlife, including alligators, deer, fish, nutria and shellfish. Its economy is equally diverse, driven both by its agricultural industry (providing everything from sugar, citrus, beef, livestock and seafood) and its fuel industry — with the help of Port Fouchon, which services 90 percent of all deepwater oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.
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We returned to each parish with a broad citizen-infused vision for our coast, including more specific visions for communities according to low, moderate and high flood risk. Residents evaluated these visions and prioritized more detailed strategies in table discussions.
During the Round 3 meetings, the project team presented an overall vision based on the combination of three criteria: the vision residents described at previous community meetings, current and future environmental conditions and best planning practices.
At the meetings, residents engaged in a series of instant polling questions using a real-time polling tool, and then evaluated the overall vision presented by the project team. Then, they reviewed and gave preference feedback on a wide range of strategies that the project team is considering for inclusion in the final plan. Residents used stickers to indicate which strategies are the best fit for their parish and added more ideas and comments.
The majority of Lafourche residents selected improving transportation, followed by jobs and job training as the best strategies to retain youth in the parish and offer more affordable housing. Residents would also like to expand established communities that are located on higher ground.
Activity two focused on the range of projects, programs and policies that residents had proposed according to low, moderate and high flood risk in previous meetings. Residents discussed the strategies shown and used green and red stickers to indicate which strategies they liked or disliked for each of those flood risk levels.
Residents ranked the following strategies in each category as the most important for the future of Lafourche Parish.
Stormwater Management & Greenspace
- Culvert/ditch maintenance
- Dredge canals, drains and culverts
- Parks that temporarily hold stormwater
- Create a full-time drain maintenance department
- Green levees
- Improved parish drainage system
- Cross-parish stormwater management strategy
Housing & Development
- Drainage requirements for new developments
- Programs to restore abandoned property to natural condition
- Increased affordable housing options
- Outdoor spaces for large community events
- Recreational destinations with access to water
- Recreational town square
- Complete streets
- Improve street lights on major corridors
- Elevate key transportation and evacuation routes
- Increase walkability and sustainable streetscape
- Elevated multimodal roadways
- Public boat docks
Education, Economy & Jobs
- Job opportunities in renewable energy
- Business incubator to help residents start new businesses
- Coastal restoration construction jobs and training
- Provide incentives to retain and attract good teachers
- Hands-on environmental curriculum and field trips
- Commercial fishing
Culture & Recreation
- Playgrounds that teach about living with water
- Hike and bike nature trails
- Support culturally-focused camps and after school programs
- Community gathering and market spaces
- Pavilion amenities in recreation
- Water-based recreation
- Healthy-living programs and activities
We held 21 meetings at 19 locations within the six pilot parishes. Residents recommended short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies according to projected low, moderate and high flood risk across LA SAFE parishes.
551 participants | 3,300 ideas
The Round 2 LA SAFE meetings focused on conversations in smaller communities. These meetings occurred in 19 specific towns and places suggested by residents in the first round of meetings. Three of the meetings were for non-English speaking communities. These smaller meetings allowed the team to present a more in-depth view of the social, environmental and economic trends in each community, and to conduct a more focused conversation about adaptation strategies to address increased flood risk.
The LA SAFE team identified the most discussed topics from the first round of meetings, and created nine question card topics sorted into three categories: Economy & Jobs, Environment & Sustainability and Community & Culture. At the meeting, residents discussed one topic from each category, and placed ideas on the map provided. For each card, residents described short-term (within 10 years), medium-term (within 25 years) and long-term (within 50 years) solutions for adapting to future land change and increased flood risk. Looking 50 years back and 50 years forward, residents discussed the challenges and opportunities for themselves, for their children and grandchildren as well as generations to come.
In this series of 21 community meetings, residents pinpointed challenges, proposed solutions and collectively described a future across different types of environments and different levels of risk. The project team combined their ideas and mapped proposed strategies. These community recommendations will form the basis for the projects, programs and policies that LA SAFE pursues. The project team will review these ideas, taking into consideration current and future environmental risk, as well as the best practices in planning.
Residents of Lafourche Parish had the opportunity to provide their feedback on the future of the parish at meetings held in Thibodaux, Lockport, Larose and Galliano. They identified that investments could be focused on economic development, quality of life, stormwater management as well as youth and education.
Those living and working in low risk communities envisioned a future of growth with a diverse economy, responsible stormwater management, upgraded transportation infrastructure and a renewed educational focus on science and culture.
The medium risk area meeting focused on quality of life, economic development and stormwater management, particularly on culvert maintenance, improved drainage system and new development regulations to help manage stormwater. Residents also expressed the need for increased recreational and entertainment activities.
Residents in the high risk communities expressed the dilemmas of increasing flooding, flood insurance costs and low oil and seafood prices. These, along with many other challenges, have impacted the overall quality of life for the community including a steady decrease in home values and changes to the education system.
The need for lower insurance rates and/or government grants to elevate homes and other methods to protect from flooding during storms were also expressed. Additionally, the fishing community described the need for improved or new safe harbors, more public docks and programs that help fisherman in times of disaster and/or low market prices for shrimp.
We brought the best land loss and flood risk modeling in the world to the table from our partners at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority alongside an exceptional team of public sector, philanthropic, non-profit and private sector partners. Residents brought their own personal experience from communities across parishes as well as their goals and vision for a Louisiana we know and love.
Residents described challenges, strengths and opportunities for the future.
505 participants | 2,000 ideas
The first round of meetings included six community meetings across the six pilot parishes. The LA SAFE team showed information on historic land loss over the last 50 years as well as expected land loss in the next 50 years even with full implementation of the Coastal Master Plan. The team also discussed projected increased flood risk that results from the loss of our wetland buffer and the migration trends taking place across the LA SAFE region. As Louisianans have made the decision to relocate, we have seen resources for everyday services such as education, infrastructure and healthcare shift accordingly.
At roundtable discussions, groups of six to eight residents talked about the ways they have seen land loss impact changes to their environment, economies and communities in their lifetimes. They also discussed what they think are the most important things to protect, and their hopes for the future of their parish.
The project team organized all of the comments into strengths, challenges and opportunities.
The residents of Lafourche Parish expressed that although the community faces severe economic, social and environmental changes over the next 50 years, they love where they live because of their strong sense of community, cultural heritage and connection to the natural environment.
Despite weaknesses such as the ever-changing environment from subsidence, salt water intrusion, increased flood risks, the lack of opportunities for young people and a decrease in job opportunities due to the downturn in the oil and gas industry, the community is committed to finding ways to adapt to their future environment.
The residents identified potential ways to adjust by diversifying the economy to help provide more job opportunities, increasing job training and workforce development programs, improving the Parish drainage system to minimize potential future flood risk and addressing the population growth challenges in North and Central Lafourche caused by population reduction in South Lafourche.
Lafourche’s residents are keenly aware that they will have to overcome the threats of aging infrastructure, increased flood insurance rates and a decreasing tax base in order to become a more resilient community for generations to come.
Stay tuned for more information regarding the fourth and fifth round of meetings in your parish.
Round 4: Community Meetings
In this fourth round of engagement, residents will have the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the draft strategies developed by the LA SAFE team after several rounds of collaborative meetings over the course of the year. These draft strategies will be presented in a variety of settings that could include focused discussions with participants from previous meetings, including public and elected officials; casual open-house gatherings; or table presentations at local festivals and other public spaces. The planning team will take these final suggestions into consideration as they complete the design of one adaptation strategy for each parish that addresses challenges and opportunities unique to that parish.
ROUND 5: PARISHWIDE MEETINGS
All of our work on this project brings us all together for this incredible moment, with residents invited to get an up-close and personal look at examples of parish-specific projects and policies. They’ll also get a chance to vote directly for the ones they want to see move forward in the process. This is it. This is what we’ve been building toward, so you can offer feedback on our collaboration and learn more about plans to complete your parish’s adaptation plan!
Download the latest push card or flier to help spread the word for the upcoming meeting in your parish.
We Need You! Get Involved Today.
Interested in leading a table discussion at the next meeting or hosting a community event? Let us know! We look forward to having you assist us in creating a stronger and safer future environment for Louisiana.