CWPPRA Project Selection

          The planning process leading up to project selection includes the nomination of a project followed by development and evaluation of proposed projects based on engineering, environmental improvements, and economics.

          A general breakdown of CWPPRA Project Selection is as follows:

  • CWPPRA projects are brought to the Task Force by the public, local municipalities, state agencies, and federal partners.
  • In January and February, each year 10-20 projects from each of the four regions become Priority Project List (PPL) candidates.
  • Parish representatives then rank projects in each region, and by the end of the spring the Technical Committee selects 10 projects from the annual PPL candidate projects for further development.
  • Of these 10 candidate projects, the Technical Committee recommends 4 projects for the design phase (Phase I) at their December meeting.
  • The Task Force must approve the 4 projects for design at their next meeting in January.
  • Projects already in design can request approval to proceed to Phase II for construction, and the Technical Committee will recommend 1-4 of these to the Task Force. Ultimately, the Task Force approves 1-4 of the recommended projects for construction.
  • Following the Technical Committee’s meeting and PPL recommendations in December, the Task Force will meet to finalize the approved projects. This year’s Task Force meeting is scheduled for January 25th. 

          Stay up-to-date on the project selection for this year’s Priority Project List by visiting our website. You can read more about CWPPRA Project Selection in Understanding CWPPRA.

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Wetland Marshes

Marsh is a type of wetland that is continuously flooded with water. Emergent-soft stemmed vegetation is present in marsh due to the saturated soil conditions. In Louisiana, there are four types of wetland marsh: freshwater, intermediate, brackish, and salt. Marshes are classified according to the salinity of the water. The location of Louisiana marshes in relation to the Gulf of Mexico often directly correlates to the level of salt content in the water. Salinity also changes based upon rainfall, drainage, soil texture, vegetation, depth of water table, and freshwater inflow.

The salinity range for each marsh type is as follows:

  • Freshwater – 0 ppt (parts per thousand)
  • Intermediate – 0-5 ppt
  • Brackish – 5-15 ppt
  • Salt – 15 or greater ppt

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A wide variety of animals such as nutria, turtles, and many bird species can be spotted in the freshwater and intermediate marshes of Louisiana, as well as species of special concern like Louisiana black bears and Calcasieu painted crawfish. The exchange between freshwater and salt water is frequent in the state of Louisiana due to its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. An estuary is characterized by this mixture of freshwater and salt forming brackish water where many wetland species spend their juvenile lives. The estuaries of coastal Louisiana support economically important fisheries and provide important wildlife habitat. Crabs, fish, and shrimp are a few of the animals found in Louisiana’s salt marsh, and birds like brown pelicans and reddish egrets often nest in the shrubby vegetation bordering salt marshes. Each of these marsh types play a significant role. It is vital to keep these marshes healthy for them to maintain their value and support the people, plants, and animals of Louisiana.

 

 

Cole’s Bayou Marsh Restoration

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Project area wetlands are undergoing loss at -0.42 %/year
based on 1983 to 2011 USGS data from the extended
boundary. Wetland loss processes in this area include
subsidence/sediment deficit, interior ponding and pond
enlargement, and storm impacts resulting in rapid episodic
losses. In addition, significant interior marsh loss has
resulted from salt water intrusion and hydrologic changes
associated with increasing tidal influence. As hydrology in
this area has been modified, habitats have shifted to more of
a floatant marsh type, resulting in increased susceptibility to
tidal energy and storm damages. Habitat shifts and
hydrologic stress reduce marsh productivity, a critical
component of vertical accretion in wetlands.

The specific goals of the project are: 1) create 365 acres of
brackish marsh in recently formed shallow open water; 2)
nourish 53 acres of existing brackish marsh; and, 3) increase
freshwater and sediment inflow into interior wetlands by
improving project area hydrology.

This project aims to create 365 acres and nourish 53 acres of
brackish marsh via dedicated dredging with borrow from
nearby Vermilion Bay. Although Vermilion Bay is not
considered an “external” source of material, significant
sediment inflows into this area may result in some borrow
area infilling. Half of the marsh creation acres would be
planted. The project will encourage additional freshwater
nutrient and sediment inflow from Freshwater Bayou Canal
by dredging a portion of Cole’s Bayou along with the
installation of a series of culverts throughout the project
area.

The culverts located along the northern project boundary are
envisioned to allow the ingress of sediment, water, and
fisheries organisms into the semi-impounded project area,
but avoid backflow of water and potential loss of interior
marsh sediment (i.e., north to south flow only). The culverts
located along the southern project boundary are envisioned
to allow water to drain out of the marsh.

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This project is located in Region 3, Teche/Vermilion Basin,
Vermilion Parish, east of Freshwater Bayou Canal.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 21.

The Cole’s Bayou Marsh Restoration sponsors include:

 

Wetland Vegetation

Wetland ecologists often refer to wetland vegetation as the foundation of coastal restoration. Native plants and vegetative plantings both provide significant benefits to wetlands. Wetland plants build and stabilize soil, create habitat, purify water, and shield infrastructure. These plants tend to accumulate the thick mud of marshes which prevents the soil from washing away. Animals that live in wetlands depend on plants or plant-eating animals for their food supply. Without wetland vegetation, the supply chain would self-destruct. By absorbing nutrients and chemicals from the water and sediment, plants reduce toxins and groundwater contamination. Wetland vegetation is key to preventing shoreline erosion and reducing storm surge which affects the coastal infrastructure.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act funds a variety of wetland enhancement projects, such as vegetative planting. Vegetative planting is the process of planting by hand or aerial seeding to shore up eroding banks and jump-start plant colonization.

You can read more about CWPPRA Projects that use the vegetative planting restoration technique by clicking here.

The People of Louisiana’s Coastal Wetlands

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act leads the fight against Louisiana’s disappearing coast. The native people of coastal Louisiana are greatly worried about losing their homes, sources of livelihood, and culture if the lands they live on continue to disappear. Saltwater intrusion, marshes becoming open water, and the disappearance of barrier islands and protective wetlands are a few of the challenges facing coastal communities. For centuries, marshes have served as home to numerous people: American Indian tribes, Vietnamese, Croatian Americans, and other groups. All of these coastal residents are familiar with the hardship of living in an area frequented by natural disasters. Most coastal residents have chosen to stay on their lands to defend and protect the ecosystem despite the extreme risks. Without the hard work and effort of diligent landowners and organizations like CWPPRA, coastal Louisiana would be vanishing at a much faster rate.

You can read Watermarks #48 People of the Coastal Wetlands to learn more about this topic.

East Leeville Marsh Creation and Nourishment

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There is widespread historic and continued rapid land loss
within the project site and surrounding areas resulting from
subsidence, wind erosion, storms, and altered hydrology.
The wetland loss rate for is -1.53%/year based on USGS data
from 1984 to 2015. Furthermore, the limits of Southwestern
Louisiana Canal are difficult to determine in some areas
because land loss is causing the coalescence of the canal
with adjacent water bodies. Natural tidal flow and drainage
patterns which once existed are currently circumvented by
the increasing area of open water. Data suggests that from
1932 to 1990, the basin lost over 245,000 acres of marsh, and
from 1978 to 1990, Barataria Basin experienced the highest
rate of wetland loss along the entire coast.

The project goal is to create approximately 358 acres and
nourish 124 acres of saline marsh east of Leeville.
After consideration of three potential alternatives, features
and an alignment were selected to establish an arc of
wetlands along the north side of Southwestern Canal,
Lake Jesse, and the west side of South Lake. This is to
begin rebuilding the structural framework of wetlands
east of Leeville and provide protection for Leeville from
southeasterly winds and tides. A robust engineering and
design cost was included for full flexibility during Phase 1
to expand the project if cost allows or to assess alternative
configurations, if necessary. The proposed features consist of
hydraulically mining sediment from a borrow source in Little
Lake west of Leeville and pumping dredged material to
create and nourish marsh east of Leeville. The disposal areas
would be fully contained during construction and gapped
no later than three years post construction to facilitate
establishment of tidal connection and function. Additionally,
a portion of the created marsh acres would be planted with
smooth cordgrass following construction to help stabilize the
created platform by increasing the rate of colonization.

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This project is located in Region 2, Barataria Basin, Lafourche Parish (primary)
Region 3, Terrebonne Basin, Lafourche Parish.

This project was approved for Phase I Engineering and
Design in January 2016.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 25.

The East Leeville Marsh Creation and Nourishment’s sponsors include:

Wetland Soils

World Soil Day was officially celebrated on December 5th. This day was created in an effort to share the importance of healthy soil and advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources. Wetland soils, also known as hydric soils, are permanently or seasonally saturated by water and develop anaerobic conditions. Soils’ ability to store surface or ground water and bio-geochemical processes are critical to wetland function and maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Wetland scientists spend a great deal of their time performing soil surveys. Different wetland types feature different soil types. Soils should be evaluated for the presence of pesticides or dangerous elements that could cause damage to the vegetation and animals of that wetland site.

This day was created in an effort to focus on the importance of soil as a critical component of natural systems and as a vital contributor to human well-being.

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Interesting fact:

  • 95% of our food comes from the soil