Katrina and Rita make significant environmental impact on Louisiana

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Louisiana did not need any additional environmental problems. With a rapidly disappearing coastline, a number of invasive species that have played havoc with the ecosystem, a Formosan termite crisis in New Orleans of shocking proportions, and lax pollution laws, the state had major problems before Katrina and Rita landed. Now, it will have even more.

10,000 family foresters in southeast Louisiana may lose 90% of their income, according to an article in today’s New Orleans Times-Picayune. The article featured Roy Wood, a forester with 800 acres of ecologically sound forest, which hosts one of the state’s two remaining gopher tortoise dens. He has lost almost everything. The downed timber can be used to make plywood and paper, but much of it will have to be used as fuel wood, burned in boilers for energy.

Louisiana’s national wildlife refuges have taken a huge blow from Hurricane Katrina. Big Branch Marsh, which extends from Mandeville to Slidell, lost too many trees to count. The cavity trees served as home to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, and between 40 and 50% of are gone. There was also coastal marshland erosion and the displacement of other wildlife.

Initial damages to the state’s wildlife-and-fisheries facilities now exceed $94 million. It is unknown how many animals drowned, how many birds were destroyed by high winds, or what the effect of oil and chemical spills will be on wildlife. Wildlife experts are concerned about southwest Louisiana’s rich bird habitats, for there is both habitat loss and the loss of refuge from prey. It is estimated that 200,000 nutria died in the two hurricanes.

The only good news so far is that Lake Pontchartrain is relatively healthy and should return to full health. Several years ago, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation set about cleaning up the lake, which was in abysmal shape because of shell dredging, dairy farm run-off, and the dumping of sewerage and chemicals.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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