Past attempts to control the great Mississippi River through levees have led to significant land loss along the delta. Boyce Upholt asks: What more can be done — and at what cost?

One morning last summer, as we weave in his skiff through the parish’s marshland, Richie Blink tells me that the federal government has recently deleted 30-odd names from local nautical maps. Fleur Pond, Dry Cypress Bayou, Tom Loor Pass, Skipjack Bay: all have become undifferentiated, unlabeled expanses of open ocean.

It strikes me, though, that we’ve often failed to imagine the delta of the present. Despite all the focus on land loss and land building, we rarely pause to discuss what we mean by land. And here in Louisiana, land—and who should control it—is a sometimes squishy idea.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.