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$780,000 Climate Mitigation Grant Awarded

A project to help the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe (PACIT) develop nature-based solutions (NBS) to mitigate climate related hazards is one of four grants recently funded by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. In total, $3.7 million in grants were awarded. Matt Bethel, Louisiana Sea Grant’s associate executive director for research, is the project director on the $780,000 PACIT project.

The project is titled A Living Shoreline Design Approach Supporting the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe’s Climate Adaption Efforts. The project team includes additional Louisiana Sea Grant personnel, as well as PACIT members and personnel from the University of Washington, University of Southern Mississippi, Troy University, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Arizona State University.

The traditional lands of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, include diverse ecological and cultural resources, such as birds, plants, animals, fish, cemeteries and sacred sites. Historically, Tribe members were fishers, hunters and farmers. While many Tribe members continue to fish as a livelihood, climate-related hazards threaten their continued existence in the region and ability to thrive. Adaptation measures taken by Tribe members have not been sufficient to withstand increased tropical storm impacts because of the loss of much of their traditional lands to open water, exposing the community to greater storm surge and more frequent flooding.

Following Hurricane Ida’s devastating impacts in 2021, the Tribe developed a comprehensive, community-based strategy to prepare for future storms called the Pointe-au-Chien “Resilient Rebuilding Plan.” Living shorelines are an NBS that can support the PACIT in achieving critical aspects of its vision to sustainably rebuild and adapt to increasingly severe climate-related hazards. A deliberate and coordinated approach is necessary to siting such projects so the sum creates enhanced benefit beyond what individual projects may provide.

“This project presents an opportunity to design a network of coordinated living shoreline structures or ‘Living Shorelines Network’,” said Bethel. “This concept is a key strategy for protecting the community from future storm impacts and flooding, while honoring the Tribe’s cultural heritage and priorities. We expect this process will inform the design of similar measures in other coastal communities most at risk.”

The National Academies’ Gulf Research Program is an independent, science-based program founded in 2013 as part of legal settlements with the companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. It seeks to enhance offshore energy system safety and protect human health and the environment by catalyzing advances in science, practice and capacity to generate long-term benefits for the Gulf of Mexico region and the nation. The program has $500 million for use over 30 years to fund grants, fellowships and other activities in the areas of research and development, education and training, and monitoring and synthesis.