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Last month, Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Coastal Protection and Recreation Authority announced the intention to create a coastal center on the campus of Nicholls State University with the sole purpose of studying the effects of land loss in the Terrebonne and Atchafalaya Basins.

Gov. Edwards and Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune signed a memorandum of understanding at a press conference in Baton Rouge, which was designed to introduce the idea to the public.

“Nicholls State University is located in the epicenter for coastal restoration, with our service area losing more coastal land than anywhere else on the planet,” Dr. Clune said. “This partnership with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, its board and the State of Louisiana is vitally important as we focus more of our resources on preserving the land and Cajun culture in the Bayou Region.”

Locally, we’ve been among the hardest hit.

The statistic of a football field lost every 100 minutes is the most common used, but it’s hard for the average person to fully grasp just how much land we’ve lost over the past several decades due to the effects of coastal erosion.

Statistics show that Louisiana has been the hardest state hit by erosion since 1930 in the United States.

Since that period, more than 1,800 square miles of land have turned into open water.

The Coastal Center will study those patterns and seek to begin rebuilding land across the state.

“This is the beginning of a partnership where we can focus our attention on the Atchafalaya River and its needs; and the potential for it to be a restoration tool for the Terrebonne basin,” Gov. Edwards said. “The Terrebonne Basin has the highest rate of land loss of any basin along our coast, and it presents some of the most difficult conditions for us to implement projects.”

The coastal center at Nicholls, when completed, will mirror the Center for River Studies on the Water Campus in Baton Rouge. It will allow Nicholls to become a leader in restoration research, education and outreach. Projects, models and displays of the Atchafalaya River and the two basins will be housed at the center.

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