Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost approximately 1,800 square miles of land due to the subsidence of the state’s coastal wetlands. By the early 1970s, public officials and private citizens were starting to become aware of the crisis on the coast, and a broad agreement developed among state and federal representatives that action was needed to address the problem. Over the course of nearly forty years, policymakers in Louisiana and Washington, D.C., implemented a series of laws and regulations meant to protect vulnerable ecosystems like the state’s wetlands. In the 1980s, officials also started crafting policies to help restore Louisiana’s shrinking coastline. While considerable progress has been made to slow the subsidence, stopping or reversing coastal erosion has proven to be nearly impossible. Inefficient bureaucratic management, insufficient funding, and the failure to substantially alter land-use and water-use policies in Louisiana have undermined the state’s conservation and restoration efforts since the 1970s. The catastrophic consequences of Hurricane Katrina forced officials in Baton Rouge and the federal government to correct some long-standing problems, but the implementation of a fully comprehensive restoration and management plan remains piecemeal – even a decade after the devastating 2005 hurricane season. This dissertation examines the broad context of the political and economic climate that contributed to the development of coastal erosion in Louisiana and closely examines the state and federal policy responses to the crisis between 1970 and 2009.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Long, Alecia P.

Included in

History Commons