Tribe will move from shrinking island to farm in Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana officials have chosen a sugar cane farm as the next home for residents of a tiny, shrinking island — a move funded with a 2016 federal grant awarded to help relocate communities fleeing the effects of climate change.

Dozens of Isle de Jean Charles residents are to be relocated about 40 miles to the northwest, in Terrebonne Parish,|The Times-Picayune and The New Orleans Advocate report.

The state is negotiating to purchase the 515-acre tract, which is closer to stores, schools and health care — and which is less flood-prone than the island, which has been battered by hurricanes and tropical storms.

Louisiana’s Office of Community Development expects to finalize the purchase in the coming weeks.

“Everybody seems to think it’ll be a pretty quick property negotiation,” said Mathew Sanders, the community development office’s resilience program manager.

Construction on the new settlement could begin in late 2018 or early 2019, meaning island residents likely will have to endure at least one more hurricane season before moving.

Last year, Isle de Jean Charles became the first community in the U.S. to receive federal assistance for a large-scale retreat from the effects of climate change. About $48 million was allotted to purchase land, build homes and move the island’s approximately 80 full-time residents.

Isle de Jean Charles is home to members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe. It has lost 98 percent of its area since 1955. Causes include erosion, sinking of coastal land, and Mississippi River levees that block replenishing river sediment.