In the year after hurricanes Katrina and Rita turned 217 square miles of Louisiana's coast into open water, researchers found little in the way of land recovery, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports.

Officials say the significant land loss is a continuing crisis that calls for serious restoration efforts.

Nineteen additional square miles of land were seen in satellite images in 2006, according to the recently released USGS report.

The lead author, however, cautions against calling that a recovery, considering the coast is 11,434 square miles.

"We simply can't be that specific," said John Barras, senior author of the report and a USGS geographer at the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette.

The change could be the result of higher tides during one satellite image set, a heavy rain in an area or any number of temporary changes that could skew the numbers, Barras said Friday.

"We're still not going to know for several years how it will shake out," he said.

What the numbers do show is that the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the coast was and continues to be significant, he said.

Garret Graves with the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities agrees.

"The impacts of hurricanes Katrina and Rita had the effect of 10 years of land loss in our state in just two days," Graves said Friday. "Certainly, we expected a little better rebound than the USGS report indicated."

The land loss and continued impact of the storms highlights the state's need to be aggressive on coastal restoration, he said.

"There's no question that Louisiana continues to have a coastal crisis," Graves said.

Information about the post-hurricane land loss is part of a larger report that seeks to standardize coastal land loss numbers for Louisiana, Barras said.

Previous land-loss reports used four data sets on coastal land-and-water ratios. The new report uses 10 data sets from 1985-2006.

In addition the data were taken from similar times of year to avoid seasonal inconsistencies like low water levels in the winter or high-water tides.

Data from the 2005-06 post-hurricane marked the first time USGS has been able to start quantifying how hurricanes affect coastal land loss, Barras said.

"We still don't understand the effect of hurricanes on the coastal land loss," he said.

Although there have been storms in coastal Louisiana - such as a series of storms in the 1960s - any land loss from those hurricanes would have been averaged into the yearly land-loss figure, he said.

"You have these episodic events that might rapidly bump land loss," Barras said.

USGS continues to examine changes in the coastal landscape and expects to look more closely at the long-term affects of the 2005 hurricane season, he said.