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`Down the Bayou': A Political Ecology of Wetlands in Louisiana
Simms, Jessica Rose Zazanis
Debbane, Anne-MarieFarley, KathleenElkijnd, Sarah
119 pages : illustrations
This study seeks to explore relationships between social power and wetland management in Louisiana. Wetlands are an integrated component of nearly all aspects of life in coastal Louisiana. Not only do they provide habitat for a bounty of sea life, they also safeguard nationally significant shipping and oil and gas infrastructure from storm damage and other environmental elements. Furthermore, farming, fishing, and hunting have provided viable livelihoods for coastal residents for countless generations. Today, there is growing concern that coastal wetland restoration and protection is now increasingly urgent, as evidenced in Louisiana's 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. Yet, state attempts to support wetland restoration and protection goals have in the past fared poorly, as economic imperatives are juxtaposed against socio-ecological ones. This is perhaps best exemplified by wetland management programs in Terrebonne Parish, a key site of wetland loss and of extractive activities from the oil and gas industry. These processes have disproportionately affected residents of Terrebonne Parish. While the first private wetland mitigation bank in the United States was established in Terrebonne Parish, this has not resulted in a decline in wetland loss - quite the contrary. The purpose of this thesis is to undertake a political ecology approach as a means to analyze how institutional arrangements for wetland management are embedded in social power relationships operating at different scales. In this way I critically examine the practical application of the meanings and practices of wetland management as presented in the current policy framework for managing Louisiana's wetlands, the 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. This analysis reveals the contradictory logics and tensions of the Plan, demonstrating that while expressing concern over the wetlands of Louisiana, it does so without questioning the processes which destroy(ed) them in the first place. This serves to further prioritize economic interests over socio-ecological factors while couched in discourses of sustainability. Data collection and analysis for this study relied on a combination of methods including analysis of archival, primary, and secondary materials and key informant and coastal resident interviews.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 94-111).
Arts and Letters
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2013
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