Article 450 to the Rescue: How the Louisiana Civil Code Promotes and Prevents Comprehensive Coastal Restoration

Article by Anais M. Jaccard

On maps and road signs, T-shirts and paper coasters, Louisiana is easily identified by its boot-like shape.  Tragically, Louisiana no longer resembles a boot.  According to current estimates, Louisiana loses a football field-sized area of land every hour, amounting to sixteen square miles of land loss each year.  TheNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that if current elevation trends continue, the Gulf of Mexico will rise by 4.3 feet by 2100, wiping much of southeast Louisiana off the map.  To forestall this catastrophe, the state has implemented an ambitious plan to restore the coast, preserve the wetlands, and reduce the flood risk facing coastal communities. 

This comment explores how, and to what extent, the equal footing doctrine, the public trust doctrine, and certain provisions of the Louisiana Civil code allow the state to implement direly-needed coastal restoration projects. Part II explains the state’s plan to restore coastal areas and discusses the legal challenges that arise from reconstruction projects.  Part III explores the legal framework governing coastal property rights in Louisiana.  Part IV applies this legal framework directly to the restoration projects and proposes three adaptations to the legal system that would better equip the state to proactively combat coastal land loss.  This Comment concludes by stressing that comprehensive coastal restoration requires flexible property laws and, in particular, that private property rights must be subservient to the public’s interest in coastal restoration. 

About the Author

Anais M. Jaccard: J.D. candidate 2019, Tulane University Law School; B.A. 2011, Bard College.


93 Tul. L. Rev. 681 (2019)