Hurricane Katrina and its destructive aftermath in 2005 were unprecedented. Hurricanes Dennis, Rita, and Wilma were also powerful hurricanes affecting the Gulf of Mexico that year. These storms highlighted the need to integrate science that supports restoration of natural landscapes with intelligent coastal planning. The following essay describes both the value and vulnerability of the Gulf of Mexico's northern coast before the storms and the current need to connect science to the human dimension of restoring the coastal landscape. Readers are invited to ponder these concepts as they read the rest of the articles in this report that describe the scientific activities that the U.S. Geological Survey performed in late 2005 and early 2006.