Build Up Wetlands, Save The Hot Sauce

Tabasco Hot Sauce

Image: Zone41/CC-BY-ND-2.0

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

Louisiana loses almost a football field of land each day, caused by a combination of climate change-fueled sea level rise, reduced sediment flow from the Mississippi River, and the land gradually sinking. One area that’s not slipping underwater: Avery Island, the birthplace of Tabasco hot sauce that’s still the company’s home. Volunteers have planted marsh grass across 30,000 acres, which protect the island — and communities farther inland — from erosion and storm surges. The company has also filled in canals created by oil companies with marsh grass, a process that takes about a decade to complete. 

Why This Matters: The land that Louisiana is “losing” is wetland becoming part of the ocean, in this case, the Gulf of Mexico.

Restoring wetland marsh grass like Tabasco is doing helps slow floodwaters, which is especially important as climate change makes hurricanes storm surges stronger and rainfall more intense.

  • It’s an incredibly absorbent ecosystem: a single football field of wetland can store about 1 million gallons of water.
  • Wetlands are important not only for keeping rising water at bay but also for the state’s commercial fisheries: about 75% of fish and shellfish need wetlands to survive.

The Mississippi River Could Prevent Louisiana from Becoming the Gulf: To slow the state’s steady loss of land, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers got the go-ahead this March to channel the Mississippi River into the Barataria Basin south of New Orleans. By allowing the river to flow into the basin, it will deposit sediment that will ultimately build up to create new land. This diversion is a massive ecosystem re-engineering project that is projected to keep 550 square miles of land from becoming seawater over the next half-century. It will be paid for in part by BP as part of the oil company’s remediation funds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

As Grist reports, the stakes are high: the rapid conversion of the state’s wetlands into saltwater already risks making New Orleans into a coastal city. “It makes folks living along the coast more vulnerable to tropical storms, hurricanes, and storm surge. It threatens to wipe away huge swaths of Louisiana’s tourism industry and indigenous species of flora and fauna. And it will eventually force millions of Louisiana residents to flee their homes.”

Up Next

Melting Russian Permafrost Threatens Buildings and Infrastructure

Melting Russian Permafrost Threatens Buildings and Infrastructure

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The earth is collapsing under Russia’s northeastern towns as global warming melts the permafrost beneath them. Permafrost occupies 65% of Russia’s landmass, making this massive thawing particularly destructive.    “There isn’t a single settlement in Russia’s Arctic where you wouldn’t find a destroyed or deformed building,” said Alexey Maslakov, […]

Continue Reading 280 words
New WWF Initiative Supports Black Land Ownership

New WWF Initiative Supports Black Land Ownership

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Heirs’ property is a type of land ownership whereby property is passed down without a will, and it’s one of the main reasons Black families in the US are losing their land. But the Mobile Basin Heirs’ Property Support Initiative announced yesterday could help families in Mississippi’s Mobile Bay […]

Continue Reading 435 words
Biden Reinstates Protections for Three National Monuments

Biden Reinstates Protections for Three National Monuments

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The White House announced Friday that President Biden will use his executive authority to restore protections for three national monuments drastically reduced during the Trump Administration. He will reestablish and increase the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, both of which are in Utah. The orders […]

Continue Reading 396 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.