Letters to the Editor

DNR didn't get funds

As a representative of the state Department of Natural Resources, I am compelled to ask you to set the record straight on the matter of the CIAP Program — Coastal Impact Assistance Program (“Mulch Madness” April 2). CIAP was indeed authorized by U.S. Congress in 2005. The six coastal states authorized to receive this federal funding were first required to prepare a plan to be approved for the funding. The Louisiana DNR moved swiftly after the guidelines were put in place to become the first of all these oil producing states to get its plan approved by the federal agency tasked with the administration of the program. The approval had to be granted by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service; it did so in November 2007, just four months ago. The MMS requires, in its next step of the process, that the “approved plan” states then go through a tedious grant application and review process before money is received for any project in the plan. The coastal forest conservation efforts that are a part of the CIAP include acquiring land rights, and this is a major step toward helping to bring our coastal swamps and forests back.

The CIAP plan is ready, and projects will be forthcoming, but the money from the federal program is just not in the bank yet. So, no, the $18.8 million was never “given” to the department.

When it comes to CIAP — Louisiana and DNR took its responsibilities seriously. We asked what will it take to achieve success in this new federal CIAP program and in getting the funding so that we can restore, improve and protect our land — and we responded by being the first state to meet all of the program requirements. Yes, it is nearly three years down the road, and the state is positioned in every way to begin its initiatives. And, yes, the funding will come to us in due time.