Twenty-five years ago, miles of marshy land and grasses separated the small fishing outpost of Buras, La., from the Gulf of Mexico. But years of erosion -- along with the one-two punch of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- have washed away much of that barrier. Today, the islands, inlets, and bays that once defined the coastline of Plaquemines Parish have begun to melt together. Like all coasts, the land around the Mississippi River is constantly evolving. In past centuries, that process was slowed by the annual flooding of the river's vast delta, which brought new sediment to replace what was …
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Stephanie Garlock is a fellow at The Atlantic Cities.