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Louisiana's coastal wetlands represent about 41% of the nation's total and are extensively managed for fish, fur, and waterfowl. Marsh management plans (MMPs) are currently used to avoid potential user conflicts and are believed to be a best management practice for specific management goals. In this article, we define MMPs and examine their variety, history, impacts, and future.

A MMP is an organized written plan submitted to state and federal permitting agencies for approval and whose purpose is to regulate wetland habitat quantity and quality (control land loss and enhance productivity). MMPs are usually implemented by making structural modifications in the marsh, primarily by using a variety of water control structures in levees to impound or semi-impound managed areas. It appears that MMPs using impoundments are only marginally successful in achieving and often contradict management goals. Although 20% of coastal Louisiana may be in MMPs by the year 2000, conflict resolution of public and private goals is compromised by a surfeit of opinion and dearth of data and experience. Based on interpretation of these results, we believe the next phase of management should include scientific studies of actual impacts, utilization of post-construction monitoring data, inventory of existing MMPs, development of new techniques, and determination of cumulative impacts.

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Environmental Management

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