Thriving on a Sinking Landscape

By:  Caitlyn Kennedy - NOAA Climate Program Office on

Published Date:  November 29, 2012


If you locate South Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, on a map or a satellite image, you’ll see two distinct ribbons that weave their way toward the Gulf of Mexico. One is the lazy, green bayou: an artifact distributary of the once fractal and wild Mississippi River before it was tamed and diverted into the single artery that now runs through New Orleans.

Running parallel to Bayou Lafourche is a two-lane road, Louisiana Highway 1. The LA-1 runs all the way to where the land ends, and then the road rises on great pillars over open water. At the end of the elevated road, Port Fourchon—one of the country’s major ports serving the deepwater oil and gas industry—sits sentry next to Grand Isle, a tiny resort island where kids play on the beaches, barricading their sandcastles against the crush of the tide.

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