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Louisiana's Ambitious Coastal Vision

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Venice, La. -- On an unseasonably warm winter morning, Earl Armstrong Jr. eases his airboat out of the slip, past a fishing crew hacking up a shark on the pier and a canal strung with hunting camps on stilts, into the broad waters of West Bay.

Armstrong, 67, kills the airboat's engine and, looking around, remembers a place nothing like this one. "You couldn't travel through here before by boat," he says, looking at the vast water broken by a couple of small, grassy islands. "Used to be woods here when I was little, that's how thick it was. The grown-ups used to scare us by telling us there were tigers and lions up in here, but we came anyway."

The sea took the forests and marshes of West Bay, leaving mostly open water, as it has along hundreds of square miles of Louisiana's coastline over the last century. But now Louisiana may be about to embark on a highly ambitious project to keep its coast from slipping further underwater, and even restore some of it.

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