Bayou Bienvenue in New Orleans is an example of south Louisiana’s wetland loss. Fifty years ago, this was a productive freshwater marsh with cypress and tupelo trees. Today, stumps are all that remain, as saltwater has encroached inland. Debbie Elliot/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliot/NPR

Jody Blount of Krebs Architecture and Engineering readies to take a sediment sample on the shores of Weeks Bay on the Alabama Gulf Coast. The city of Orange Beach has hired independent scientists to monitor the air, water and soil in the wake of the massive oil spill. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Sharon Hanshaw, a beautician turned global climate activist living in Biloxi, Miss., has traveled the world to tell the story of how her neighborhood has struggled to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

The Sand Shark lifts sand onto a conveyor belt, then dumps it through a sifting device. BP says the machine can clean more sand in 5 minutes than 100 people could in three hours. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Oil workers listen to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal during a speech in June in Houma, La. Jindal spoke out against the six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling, saying it would kill thousands of Louisiana jobs. Gregory Bull/AP hide caption

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Twin sisters Sheila Newman (left) and Sheryl Lindsay of Orange Beach, Ala., make their case to a BP claims adjuster. The wedding planners have been trying since June to get BP to pay for lost income from the oil spill. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Sunbathers walk along the beach in Pensacola Beach, Fla. on Aug. 1. Local business officials are asking for a substantial federal investment in getting tourists back to the coast after the peak summer season was wiped out by the oil spill. Dave Martin/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Dave Martin/AP