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Top Louisiana coastal official leaving state agency for new role. Departure comes at critical time.

Posted on June 19, 2024

One of Louisiana’s most experienced coastal protection and restoration officials is leaving the state agency in charge of it for a new role, and his departure comes at a critical time for the agency’s future direction.

Bren Haase, who has held a range of leadership roles at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, including executive director and chair of its board, will now head the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, the program announced Monday. Haase, who starts at the program on June 24, takes with him more than three decades of experience in the field across the state and federal government as well as the private sector, much of it spent at the CPRA.

Haase, 53, said in a statement he was “honored and humbled” in being selected to lead the program, known as BTNEP.

“BTNEP has well served the citizens of the region for over 30 years and I am excited to join the team, continue that good work, and build upon it,” he said. “The estuary is one of the most unique and culturally rich in the world, and I can think of no better endeavor than protecting and restoring its natural and cultural resources.”

Haase, who began at CPRA with its founding in 2006, moved back into his role as deputy director there after Gov. Jeff Landry took office in January. He had served as executive director and then briefly as chair under Gov. John Bel Edwards, and oversaw an agency that gained widespread accolades for its scientific approach to coastal planning.

The agency’s new director is Glenn Ledet, an engineer who had previously worked for the firm Neel-Schaffer, various consulting firms and the CPRA.

Haase said in a brief interview that “there are a lot of good people at CPRA that are going to continue to do good things, good work and be good leaders for our coastal program. That’s not going to change because one person’s leaving.”

Landry’s approach to coastal issues so far has raised concerns among some who have long been involved in the state’s land-loss fight. Those concerns include a proposal to merge the CPRA with the state Department of Energy and Natural Resources, which coastal advocates say could deprioritize decades of coastal restoration and protection efforts.

The governor has also sent mixed signals over the state’s biggest-ever coastal restoration project, the nearly $3 billion Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, despite years of planning and with construction having begun in August 2023. Commercial fishers oppose it because of the effect it will have on oysters and shrimp in the area of the diversion, and Plaquemines Parish has filed suit over the project.

The CPRA said in a statement that it “extends nothing but congratulations to Bren on his new position and gratitude to for his years of service to Louisiana’s coastal program and invaluable contributions.”

“Our focus remains steadfast on protecting and restoring the state’s invaluable coastal resources as we continue to navigate complex challenges and pursue critical projects,” it said. “BTNEP is gaining a dedicated coastal champion, and we look forward to continued collaboration with Bren and BTNEP in our shared mission and commitment to the coast.”

Haase replaces T. Bradley Keith, who resigned in February after three years as BTNEP director. The program is an affiliate of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.

“We’re obviously very excited to bring somebody in with Bren’s track record and reputation at the local, the state and even the federal level,” LUMCON executive director Brian Roberts said.

BTNEP is one of 28 national estuary programs across the country. It works to restore an area stretching 4.2 million acres, including all or parts of 16 parishes between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers.

The program works in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Roberts said projects run the gamut from water quality to invasive species and habitat restoration, among others.

Bren Haase


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