Gulf of Mexico
Chris Granger

LA - The river cut through Plaquemines Parish's east bank in 1973. Now, those crevasses build land.

Natural crevasses carved by the Mississippi River in the flood of 1973 — as well as man-made cuts added in 2006 — now carry heavy sediment to the marshes near historic Fort St. Philip along Plaquemines Parish's east bank.

Chugging through Bay Denesse, Ryan Lambert's boat struggles forward, kicking up the silt and clay sitting just a few feet below the water's surface. The smell of wet earth permeates the air, wafting up from the brown, muddy water and verdant freshwater marsh.

Some patches of grass are obviously new, their green tips emerging from the water. "There wasn't a speck of anything except water three years ago," Lambert said, gesturing from behind the wheel as his engine sputtered.

Natural crevasses carved by the Mississippi River in the flood of 1973 — as well as man-made cuts added in 2006 —  now carry heavy sediment to the marshes near historic Fort St. Philip along Plaquemines Parish's east bank. That massive flood significantly altered the landscape, scouring out marsh that was already rapidly degrading with the rest of Louisiana's coast due to subsidence, erosion, oil and gas exploration and hurricanes.

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