Wetland Marshes

Did you know:

There are four different types of wetland marshes in Louisiana.

Due to Louisiana’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the exchange between fresh and salt water along the coast is frequent. Depending on the location of the marsh, it could be classified as either freshwater, intermediate, brackish, or saltwater marsh. Marshes are categorized by the salinity, or salt content, of the water, and the location of marshes to the Gulf of Mexico often directly correlates with the salinity level. Generally following a salinity gradient, freshwater marshes are commonly situated furthest inland from the gulf with a salt content of 0 ppt (parts per thousand), intermediate marshes contain a salinity range of 0-5 ppt, brackish marshes have a range of 5-15 ppt, and saltwater marshes encompass a salt content of 15 ppt or greater. Within the marsh gradient are estuaries, where fresh and salt water mix and many wetland species spend their juvenile lives.

 

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Losing Wetlands

Did you know:

Louisiana contains approximately 40% of the wetlands of the continental United States, but it experiences about 80% of its wetland losses.

Although the greatest amount of wetlands are located in Louisiana, subsidence, sea level rise, and anthropogenic activities are among the major factors contributing to the current state of Louisiana’s fragile and diminishing coastal wetlands.  Louisiana loses wetlands at an average rate of one acre per hour. If the current rate of loss is not slowed by the year 2040, an additional 800,000 acres of Louisiana’s wetlands will disappear, advancing the shoreline inward as much as 33 miles in some areas. CWPPRA is fighting to combat the speed of land loss by protecting, restoring, and creating the nation’s wetlands.

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New Orleans Landbridge Shoreline Stabilization & Marsh Creation

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Since 1956, approximately 110 acres of marsh has been lost along the east shore of Lake Pontchartrain between Hospital Road and the Greens Ditch. One of the greatest influences of marsh loss in the area can be attributed to tropical storm impacts. Wetland losses were accelerated by winds and storm surge caused by Hurricane Katrina, which converted approximately 70 acres of interior marsh to open water. Stabilizing the shoreline and protecting the remaining marsh would protect natural coastal resources dependent on this important estuarine lake, communities that thrive on those resources, the Fort Pike State Historical Site, and infrastructure including U.S. Highway 90. USGS land change analysis determines a loss rate of -0.35% per year for the 1984-2011 period of analysis. Subsidence in this unit is relatively low and is estimated at 0-1 foot/century (Coast 2050).

Lake Pontchartrain supports a large number of wintering waterfowl. Various gulls, terns, herons, egrets, and rails can be found using habitats associated with Lake Pontchartrain, which has been designated as an Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy. Restoring these marshes will protect the Orleans Landbridge and will help to protect fish and wildlife trust resources dependent on these marsh habitats, particularly at-risk species and species of conservation concern such as black rail, reddish egret, brown pelican, mottled duck, seaside sparrow, king rail, and the Louisiana eyed silkmoth.

Borrow material will be dredged from areas within Lake St. Catherine and Pontchartrain to create 169 acres and nourish 102 acres of brackish marsh. Containment dikes will be constructed around four marsh creation areas to retain sediment during pumping. The lake shorelines will be enhanced with an earthen berm to add additional protection from wind induced wave fetch. Containment dikes that are not functioning as shoreline enhancement will be dredged and/or gapped. Vegetative plantings are proposed including five rows along the crown and two rows along the front slope of the shoreline protection berm, as well as within the marsh platform area.

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The project is located in Region 1, Pontchartrain Basin, Orleans Parish, flanking U.S. Highway 90 along the east shore of Lake Pontchartrain and areas surrounding Lake St. Catherine.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 24. This project was approved for Phase I Engineering and Design in January 2015.

The New Orleans Landbridge Shoreline Stabilization & Marsh Creation sponsors include:

Keep up with the progress on PO-169 and other PPL 24 projects.

 

 

 

 

 

Wetland Nurseries

Did you know:

Wetlands provide a critical nursery for many of the Gulf of Mexico commercial fishery species.

One of the most significant fishery industries in the lower 48 states is the Gulf coast fishery. Louisiana wetlands, particularly coastal marshes, play an imperative role in the life cycle of about 90% of Gulf marine species such as oysters, blue crabs, and shrimp. Providing a protective nursery, wetlands house an immensely diverse quantity of species that rely upon this habitat such as blue crabs, menhaden, and redfish. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act aims to continue the protection and restoration, and health of these essential habitats for wildlife, aquaculture, and fisheries.

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Wetland Recreation

In honor of summer officially beginning this week, this Wetland Wednesday focuses on:

Recreation in the Wetlands

One of the many valuable qualities offered by wetlands is recreation. Ecosystems are highly biologically diversified, providing an abundance of species to view or catch. Boating, fishing, bird-watching, photography, or simply enjoying the landscape are all activities which attract greater use of wetlands during summer months. Known as the “Sportsman’s Paradise,” Louisiana wetlands draw a large number of tourists and natives, increasing the ecotourism of the state. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act encourages the public to be opportunistic in using wetlands as a beneficial natural resource while also recognizing their importance and need for protection. While recreationally using wetlands, remember to respect the home of wildlife, including many endangered species.

Happy Summer!

Bayou Dupont Sediment Delivery-Marsh Creation #3

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Wetlands in the Barataria Basin were historically nourished by the fresh water, sediment and nutrients delivered by the Mississippi River and its many distributary channels. These sediment and nutrient inputs ceased following the creation of levees along the lower river for flood control and navigation. In addition, the construction of numerous oil and gas canals along with subsurface oil and gas withdrawal has exacerbated wetland loss in the area. From 1932 to 1990, the Barataria Basin lost over 245,000 acres of marsh. From 1978 to 1990, the area experiences the highest rate of wetland loss in coastal Louisiana.

The primary goal of this project is to create and nourish approximately 415 acres of emergent intermediate marsh using sediment from the Mississippi River. The proposed project involves dredging sediment from the Mississippi River for marsh creation by pumping the sediment via pipeline into an area of open water and broken marsh. The proximity of the project to the Mississippi River provides a prime opportunity to utilize this renewable river sediment resource. Additionally, tidal creeks will be created to improve marsh habitat value, and native intertidal marsh vegetation will be planted following construction. This project will complement existing restoration projects in the area and could protect existing infrastructure.

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CWPPRA Region 2, Barataria Basin, Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. The general project area is about 10 miles south of Belle Chasse, LA and is west of LA HWY 23 and north of the Myrtle Grove Marina. The project is immediately adjacent to the completed CWPPRA Mississippi River Sediment Delivery System- Bayou Dupont (BA-39) project.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 22. This project has started the construction phase.

The Bayou Dupont Sediment Delivery – Marsh Creation #3 project sponsors include:

  • Federal Sponsor: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Local Sponsor: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Learn more about this project (BA-164) and others on CWPPRA’s project page.

 

 

Vermilion Parish Coastal Day

On Friday, June 10th, the Vermilion Parish Coastal Protection and Restoration Committee hosted the first Vermilion Parish Coastal Day in Intracoastal City, Louisiana. Joining the Vermilion Parish Coastal Committee was the Vermilion Parish Police Jury and leaders of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA). The one-day event was dedicated to educating local landowners, government officials, and the general public on the success of previous coastal restoration projects as well as current coastal issues in hopes of uniting the community to support the progression of coastal efforts within Vermilion Parish.

Ronald Darby, President of Vermilion Parish Policy Jury, and Kevin Sagrera, Chairman of johnny bradberryVermilion Parish Coastal Committee, welcomed Johnny Bradberry, Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Affairs and CPRA Chairman. Bradberry gave brief updates on current bills and legislation pertaining to coastal projects. Michael Ellis, Executive Director of CPRA, discussed the valuable natural resources available in Vermilion Parish. Ralph Libersat of the Vermilion Parish Coastal Committee presented an overview of Vermilion Parish coastal projects, explaining the critical need to protect what is there now, as presentationopposed to having to recreate land years into the future. Libersat discussed the $92 million of coastal project expenditures in Vermilion Parish to date:$70 million from CWPPRA, $18 million from Vermilion Parish, and $3.4 million from surplus funding, giving a conservative total net benefit of 5180 acres. Libersat highlighted a few CWPPRA projects such as ME-31, TV-12, TV-18, TV-63, and TV-03; Libersat continued by expressing that Vermilion Bay is losing wetlands at a rate of 8-10 feet per day.

Following lunch was a site visit to two restoration project areas along Freshwater Bayou and Vermilion Bay. The first project site was Freshwater Bayou Marsh Creation (ME-31), located west of Freshwater Bayou and north of the Freshwater Bayou Locks; this project is in the Engineering and Design phase to create and/or nourish approximately 401 acres of marsh using dredged material. The second project site was Little Vermilion Bay Sediment Trapping (TV-12), located in the northwestern corner of Little Vermilion Bay at its intersection with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW); this project has been completed and was successful in shoreline protection and sediment trapping with terraces.