Both of these projects are directly connected to a grant McNeese received from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce in August.
Funding from that $102,590 EDA University Center grant has created an innovation hub at McNeese that supports regional outreach efforts. "We are leveraging our expertise, resources and outreach activities to grow our public and private partnerships," said Janet Woolman, executive director for economic development and director of the Louisiana Environmental Research Center at McNeese.
Woolman said that McNeese is working with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury to provide technical assistance to develop a friction vegetation map and increase the accuracy of a hydrodynamic model of the Calcasieu watershed. This research, conducted by Dr. Ning Zhang, will provide information about storm-surge flooding, salinity and sediment transport, predictions about erosion and the effect of hurricanes on coastal landscapes.
According to Laurie Cormier, coastal program coordinator for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, "This work builds on existing relationships and helps aid the Chenier Plain region in making better decisions on current and upcoming projects for the region. The Chenier Plain region has built support for coastal sustainability over the past decade and now we are working on the science to back up that support."
McNeese faculty have been involved in research involving coastal erosion, flood control and wetlands restoration for several years. "This is a logical extension of existing projects underway through the Louisiana Environmental Research Center and the College of Engineering at McNeese," Woolman said.
Currently, in line with the state's Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, LERC's mission is to conduct basic and applied research, to accumulate/disseminate information and to create awareness through education on environmental issues and concepts related to wetland restoration/remediation with a primary emphasis on the Chenier Plain.
The partnership with the city of Lake Charles is part of a larger project that will lead to an urban forestry management plan designed to protect and maintain trees within the city.
"Trees are important to communities for many reasons. In addition to providing shade and improving air quality, trees complement infrastructure growth and improve the quality of life in a community," Lori Marinovich, executive director of downtown development, explained.
In August, McNeese was one of 19 universities selected following a national competition by the EDA to receive grants to advance and strengthen regional economies.
"McNeese is vital to economic development in Southwest Louisiana and it is important for us to continually search for collaborative endeavors with our community, corporate and industrial partners that support innovation and stimulate economic development in our region," Woolman said.