Northshore Restoration and Urbinazation
There are efforts on the Northshore for restoration, conservation and land acquisition to protect the important ecosystems and habitats in the region. However, further action on the Northshore is needed now. With expanding populations causing pressure for development and synergistic anthropogenic and natural activities stressing natural ecosystems, people must begin to think about conservation and restoration as a necessary part of community planning. The Northshore has a chance to include the environment and natural areas as part of community and urban planning in order to simultaneously expand the population and economy and protect the natural areas that attracted people to the area in the first place. The Northshore community has the unique opportunity to consider natural areas as it expands and arrive at solutions that work for both human and natural populations and to consider both as funding opportunities arise. The Pontchartrain Conservancy wrote the Lake Pontchartrain’s Northshore: Recommendations for Restoration and Conservation report to give recommendations for areas that should be preserved or restored.
Board walk in Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge, one of the conservation areas on the northshore.
Northshore Population Growth
Population growth and community expansion continues worldwide. Urbanization often occurs at the expense of natural ecosystems. The Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain is currently one of the fastest growing communities in Louisiana. Population in Tangipahoa Parish increased 26% and in St. Tammany Parish increased by 28% from 2000 to 2014, with a large population influx after Hurricane Katrina. From 1982 to 2000, urbanization was responsible for the loss of 5,400 acres of marsh, 6,700 acres of wetland forest and 30,630 acres of upland forest. The population growth leads to urbanization, putting pressure on the natural areas of the Northshore including unique habitats such as rare long leaf pine savannah.
Northshore Existing and Priority Conservation Areas
The Pontchartrain Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy have jointly identified some areas on the Northshore that should be a priority for conservation. The priority conservation areas were chosen because they contribute to the ecological integrity of the region and often include riparian or marsh areas . The priority conservation areas listed do not include much upland forest because much of this habitat occurs north of I-12 or outside of the coastal zone. However, upland pine savannahs that are found north of I-12 should not be developed as they are a unique habitat and support species that are unique to the region.
Priority conservation areas on the Northshore, as delineated by Pontchartrain Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy, where development should not occur.