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Jun 8, 2010 7:22 PM by Carolyn Cerda

State of the Coast Conference

Three organizations are gathering in Baton Rouge to discuss the Gulf Oil Spill's effects on Louisiana's wetlands. Over 650 people are attending the State of the Coast Conference.

The groups: The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, The US Army Corps of Engineers, and The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

The goal: engineers, geologists, social scientists and many others working on protecting and restoring the State's marshes.

Organizers began planning the conference several months ago, but programs and sessions had to be re-worked in order to address concerns regarding the oil spill in the Gulf. Organizers say, prior to the spill the wetlands were threatened by high erosion rates, hurricanes, and flooding. Now, they say the biggest threat is oil.

"I think everyone's got the oil spill on their mind as they look at coastal protection, restoration in the future," Natalie Snider, Science Director with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, said.

"I think we have to be very aware that our marshlands are disappearing," Donald Davis said.

Davis is the author of, "Washed Away? The Invisible Peoples of Louisiana's Wetlands." He says people living and working in the marshes need to come together to collectively find a solution.

Conference organizers agree. They're hoping this week's conference will bring the diverse group of people that live and work in the wetlands together. The conference runs through Thursday at the River Center in Baton Rouge.

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