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Thread: A starting point for greater coastal research

  1. Louisiana A starting point for greater coastal research

    LOUISIANA La. - UL's programs range from being some of the best in the state to being some of the best in the nation. The Unviersity of Louisiana's reputation as a center for research and graduate studies is steadily growing. The University is the home of the National Wetlands Research Center and the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center, thanks in large part to the University's renowned biology department.


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  2. Default White Lake fight far from over for lawmaker

    BATON ROUGE (AP) — A state legislator is not through with the donation of more than 70,000 acres of freshwater marsh to the state.

    Except for a pending lawsuit concerning the use of a private group to oversee the property, last year’s fight over the White Lake Marsh has largely faded.

    The private group, White Lake Preservation Inc., coordinated duck hunts last fall and has allowed scientists and others to study the Vermilion Parish site and the migratory birds that rest there.

    But Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, is not satisfied with the situation. He is bringing the issue of management of the marsh back to the forefront.

    On Tuesday, the Senate is scheduled to debate McPherson’s proposal to transfer control of the property to the state, setting up a new advisory board that would decide how to run it and a protected fund that would receive all money having to do with the preserve.

    McPherson, who filed the lawsuit about control of the property, said the legislation would fix the problems created when Gov. Mike Foster agreed to turn over the major donation from BP Amoco to the private group.

    McPherson said the current arrangement has nothing in place to safeguard use of the property.

    But a board member of White Lake Preservation Inc. said any changes to the donation agreement and the cooperative endeavor that lets the nonprofit control the property would prompt BP to take back the land.

    “This bill, if enacted, will cause the donation requirements to be violated,” said board member John Campbell, a Baton Rouge lawyer. Foster said BP had insisted that a nonprofit group control the preserve, expressing concern about whether Louisiana had enough resources to properly maintain the marsh. McPherson’s bill would set up a White Lake property advisory board within the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to guide the maintenance of the property. The board would have 15 members, of which seven would have scientific expertise.

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  4. #3
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    Louisiana UL Qualified to Research and save Louisiana's Wetlands

    Since The University of Louisiana is home to the National Wetlands Research Center and the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center. . . and considering how for decades prior to housing these research centers, UL has been doing research on cypress tree habitat and brackish survival of those trees. Why not enlarge the research base into a study which could play a role in helping stop erosion in fresh water estuaries and coastlines.

    I mean it seems obvious to me that this background and history makes UL qualified to do the studies that will ultimately save Louisiana's coast and inland marshes. So why was the 70,000 acres of freshwater marsh not donated to the non-profit University of Louisiana instead of a hunting club?

    I mean really, the private group, White Lake Preservation Inc., seems like a nice outfit, but coordinated duck hunts alone will not make scientists flock (pun) to study erosion.

    I bring this up because Maj. Gen. Robert Griffin, president of the federal Coastal Engineering Research Board, is in Lafayette holding hearings, which could lead to a $15,000,000 restoration of Louisiana’s wetlands.

    The University of Louisiana should continue - as they have for decades - to take a leading role. I expect they will, but I also think the 70,000 acres of freshwater marsh should be donated to UL with the private group, White Lake Preservation Inc., still being allowed to coordinate duck hunts.


  5. Default

    New White Lake board seeks final OK

    BATON ROUGE — Legislation installing a new board to manage the White Lake Preserve, a pristine freshwater marshland in Vermilion Parish that’s been sheltered from public hunting, is headed for final approval in the waning days of this legislative session.

    Sen. Joe McPherson’s Senate Bill 118 is to be heard Friday in the House of Representatives. It dissolves a self-perpetuating board created by former Gov. Mike Foster that’s made up of several of his friends and replaces it with people involved in wildlife preservation, land management and interest in seeing the property properly maintained.

    Controversy has surrounded the White Lake property since the Foster administration accepted the contribution from BP-Amoco shortly after forgiving an estimated $40 million debt the oil company owed to the state. Foster created the board to manage the site after Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jimmy Jenkins, who chairs the board, said his department couldn’t manage it.

    However, DWF employees have done all the work at the site since the board took over.

    Glen Dejean, BP-Amoco’s Louisiana representative, said his company was not taking a position on McPherson’s bill but just wanted the controversy to end.

    “It’s an absolutely glorious piece of property, and we hope it can be used by the people of the state of Louisiana,” Dejean said. “We’ll be very pleased to have the turmoil and controversy behind us.”

    McPherson filed suit challenging the way Foster accepted the property on behalf of the state but established a private board to run it and restrict access to it. His lawsuit is currently in appellate court when a lower court ruled he had no standing in the issue to challenge it.

    Dejean said the company has plans to build a

    welcome/research center on the site and to make further contributions to it. But those plans were put on hold when the lawsuit and public criticism of the management arose.

    “The initial intent of this donation was for its educational aspects and the enjoyment of Louisiana citizens,” he said. “We hope that can be done now.”

    In testifying against McPherson’s bill Monday, board member Henry Mouton told the House Appropriations Committee, “If you pass this bill, you will be kicking our gift horse — BP — in the mouth. A ‘yes’ vote would destroy the last piece of pristine marsh in Louisiana.”

    Dejean said all the company’s only concern is that the property be managed properly, and he said he believes the new board with representatives of wildlife organizations, university scientists, BP and Vermilion Parish residents will work to preserve the property.

    McPherson said he would never propose that White Lake be operated as a Wildlife Management Area because it is not suitable for that purpose.

    Appropriations Chairman Rep. John Alario, D-Westwego, put the bill on hold until Wednesday to make changes in the board.

    Unlike the original, members of the new panel will be subject to Senate confirmation, will be appointed from a number of nominees proposed by the groups and will serve only during the term of the governor who appointed them.

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    Mike Hasten
    mhasten@yahoo.com
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  6. Default White Lake gets new name, under new management

    CROWLEY - Four committees will draft plans to manage the newly named White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area, with members of the White Lake Advisory Board hoping to maintain a balance between nature and opportunities for bird watching, fishing and hunting.

    The advisory board met Tuesday at the LSU Agriculture Center Rice Research Station to discuss finances, fishing and the formal naming of the property.

    The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officially took over management of the 71,000 acres of wetlands and marshland on July 1. The land was donated by BP America Production to the state, and was the center of controversy when then-Gov. Mike Foster settled an almost $40 million debt from BP at the same time the land was donated. A private board was overseeing the land, but now the Wildlife and Fisheries will oversee the land's management.

    "The transition is complete," said Dwight Landreneau, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. "The money that was in the treasury was handed over to our accounts."

    A total of $200,000 was transferred from White Lake Preservation Inc., the private group that used to oversee the preserve.

    The White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area is expecting $1,103,100 in revenue, and $794,864 in expenditures, according to Janice Lansing, undersecretary for Wildlife and Fisheries, who oversees financial management areas.

    Steve Linscombe, regional director of the LSU Ag Center and head of the White Lake Advisory Board, said he set up four committees - finance, education and outreach, natural resources and agriculture - to help make recommendations to the full board.

    "I think we can accomplish a lot in smaller groups," Linscombe said. The finance committee has been charged with putting together a financial plan, while the natural resources committee will address how the overall property will be managed, he said.

    The first concern for the advisory board is finding money to fix levees in the preserve.

    Wildlife and Fisheries needs about $300,000 to $400,000 for immediate repairs to about four miles of levees in the preserve, said Parke Moore, assistant secretary for the Office of Wildlife and Fisheries. Millions more will be needed in the future to fix five miles of levee and to complete other projects, he said.

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    Sebreana Domingue
    sdomingue@theadvertiser.com

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  7. #6

    Louisiana UL to merge research efforts


      Across UL's campus, at least 50 research projects are focused on Louisiana's coast and marshes.

    But not all researchers may know about their colleagues' work or progress.

    That will change as the university received conditional approval from the Board of Regents to create the Institute of Coastal Ecology and Engineering.

    "We're looking for a coordinated response for the needs of the state and federal agencies working on coastal restoration and hurricane recovery," said Robert Stewart, vice president of research at UL.

    UL has dedicated $300,000 to the institute. More than half of that will be dedicated to the salaries for two co-directors, according to UL's proposal to the Board. The remaining $125,000 is budgeted for general operating funds or administrative support.

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    Marsha Sills
    msills@theadvertiser.com



  8. #7
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    Default Re: UL Qualified to Research and save Louisiana's Wetlands

    Quote Originally Posted by Turbine

    Since The University of Louisiana is home to the National Wetlands Research Center and the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center. . . and considering how for decades prior to housing these research centers, UL has been doing research on cypress tree habitat and brackish survival of those trees. Why not enlarge the research base into a study which could play a role in helping stop erosion in fresh water estuaries and coastlines.

    I mean it seems obvious to me that this background and history makes UL qualified to do the studies that will ultimately save Louisiana's coast and inland marshes. So why was the 70,000 acres of freshwater marsh not donated to the non-profit University of Louisiana instead of a hunting club?

    I mean really, the private group, White Lake Preservation Inc., seems like a nice outfit, but coordinated duck hunts alone will not make scientists flock (pun) to study erosion.

    I bring this up because Maj. Gen. Robert Griffin, president of the federal Coastal Engineering Research Board, is in Lafayette holding hearings, which could lead to a $15,000,000 restoration of Louisiana’s wetlands.

    The University of Louisiana should continue - as they have for decades - to take a leading role. I expect they will, but I also think the 70,000 acres of freshwater marsh should be donated to UL with the private group, White Lake Preservation Inc., still being allowed to coordinate duck hunts.


    Turbine...I worked for the USGS/NWRC and CEET (Center for Ecology and Enviornmental Technology) as a biologist as a volunteer, intern, and employee from 1999 to 2004. During that time UL had a Scientist (Dr. Robert Twilley) who was the lead scientist in coastal erosion research. He is internationally renowned for his work and during the time he was with UL, he brought in the most research/grant money to the University. For years he requested additional assistance from UL to help him progress in his work, ie money, facilities, and staff and guess what...he didn't get it. Guess who came calling with an offer he couldn't refuse...nearly trippling of his salary, more staff, his own department, and a brand new freaking building specific to his work. LSU A&M

    To this day his loyalty is with UL, but UL wouldn't give him what he needed. I find it interesting that someone wised up with this announcement, but it feels like this university is behind the 8-ball. AGAIN!

    My god do we need some private funding! I'm beginning to do my share, but I tell you this university is not agressive enough. From first hand experience I can tell you that those with the financial means should not have to seek out the University in order to donate money, the University needs to hit the pavement and knock on doors and present their future picture of the University.

    These articles are reminders of a very disappointing time for UL research.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: UL Qualified to Research and save Louisiana's Wetlands

    Quote Originally Posted by Tripple Threat
    Turbine...I worked for the USGS/NWRC and CEET (Center for Ecology and Enviornmental Technology) as a biologist as a volunteer, intern, and employee from 1999 to 2004. During that time UL had a Scientist (Dr. Robert Twilley) who was the lead scientist in coastal erosion research. He is internationally renowned for his work and during the time he was with UL, he brought in the most research/grant money to the University. For years he requested additional assistance from UL to help him progress in his work, ie money, facilities, and staff and guess what...he didn't get it. Guess who came calling with an offer he couldn't refuse...nearly trippling of his salary, more staff, his own department, and a brand new freaking building specific to his work. LSU A&M

    To this day his loyalty is with UL, but UL wouldn't give him what he needed. I find it interesting that someone wised up with this announcement, but it feels like this university is behind the 8-ball. AGAIN!

    My god do we need some private funding! I'm beginning to do my share, but I tell you this university is not agressive enough. From first hand experience I can tell you that those with the financial means should not have to seek out the University in order to donate money, the University needs to hit the pavement and knock on doors and present their future picture of the University.

    These articles are reminders of a very disappointing time for UL research.
    Or maybe it provides insight into the mission and function of a regional university? The real mission of ULL is to educate the local population and to provide research and economic development leadership for Acadiana. Not to be a leading research university. Focus on research that might have a regional economic payoff instead of pie in the sky stuff better schools are more suited for.

    That is why LSU is ranked in the highest category of the Carngie rankings and ULL is in the second level.

    as for private funding, maybe ULL needs to work on getting some more donations into its endowment, what are you guys at 100m?

    I have the feeling that ULL lacks the alumni support that many of you people think that it has.

  10. #9

    Louisiana Re: A starting point for greater coastal research

    Quote Originally Posted by DocRagCaj


      The new Institute for Coastal Ecology and Engineering (ICEE) at UL is not really a consolidation of our programs. It is primarily an institute made up of independent centers that historically had part of their programs focus on coastal issues. Hence, by aligning these still independent centers as a team and directing their applicable capabilities toward coastal issues we take a group that becomes a united highly interdisciplinary team placing UL as a real force in the coastal R&D arena. Really amounts to "smart" management of our resources. The result is this multi-discipline team that truly aligns engineering, science, cultural studies, and business into a team truly capable of addressing the many inter-related and complex issues facing Louisiana's coastal ecosystem and communities.

    It also not a consolidation of academic programs. As mentioned above, it is a teaming up of R&D entities into an organized group. Doc A was extremely helpful and supportive of this venture. As were many of the other administrators.

    And this is just the first of this kind for UL. The very best R&D entities in the country at the best universities are all using this approach. When properly organized and managed, these types of R&D groups can be very competitive for external funding while providing a really fulfilling educational experience for the students involved in the research.


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