BATON ROUGE LSU and Ohio State University will battle for the BCS National College Football Championship in the Superdome early next week, but if the game was held in the Louisiana wetlands instead, the entire field would disappear before halftime. Louisianas wetlands are being lost at the rate of approximately one football field every 38 minutes. To fight against this rapid destruction, the two universities joined forces in 2003, forming an ongoing research partnership with the goal of rebuilding the vanishing coastal wetland ecosystem that makes up 30 percent of the nations total coastal marsh.
Researchers also aim to reduce the flow of nitrogen and other chemicals that pour into the Mississippi River each spring from Americas heartland. This causes an overabundance of nutrients that rob the water of oxygen, creating a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico more than 975 square miles of low-oxygen water that limits the sustainable fisheries of the region.
This is a multi-billion-dollar problem that affects our entire nation, said LSU Chancellor Sean OKeefe. While we battle on the football field, we collaborate in the research field to tackle the issue of coastal wetlands loss.
Louisianas wetlands help to make the state the nations leader in crude oil production and second in natural gas production, according to Americas Wetland Foundation. These fragile ecosystems also support 25 percent of the nations total commercial fishing haul and provide storm protection to five of the countrys largest ports. Wetlands are essential because of their capability to filter the nutrients that would contribute to the dead zone before they get carried into the Gulf; theyre also vital for hurricane protection in storm-sensitive areas like New Orleans.
Louisiana has both the largest amount of wetland loss and the largest dead zone in the country, said Robert Twilley, associate vice chancellor of research and economic development at LSU, direct
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Louisiana State University