Land Loss

Did you know:

Coastal Louisiana has lost an average of 34 square miles of land per year for the last 50 years.

The alarming rate at which Louisiana loses coastal land can be seen through projected land loss maps such as the Southeast Louisiana Land Loss Map, which shows historical and projected land loss in the state’s deltaic plain from 1932 to 2050. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act works diligently to decrease the rate of land loss for coastal regions along the Gulf of Mexico.

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Download this map and other coastal maps here.

Grand Liard Marsh and Ridge Restoration

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The Bastion Bay and Grand Liard mapping units were historically structured by a series of north south bayous and associated ridges. Over the preceding decades the majority of these bayou ridges and the marshes flanking them have disappeared. The Grand Liard ridge is the most prominent remaining ridge, and separates the open bays of the Bastian Bay and Grand Liard mapping units. Past land loss projections indicate a loss rate of -3.3%/yr; and also suggest that the remaining bayou bank wetlands would completely convert to open water by 2050 without the project.

The project is intended to restore both structural and habitat functions of Grand Liard Bayou and flanking marshes. The conceptual project design includes the creation of approximately 328 acres of marsh and nourishment of an additional 140 acres of existing marsh. The project concept also includes restoration of a ridge on the east bank of Bayou Grand Liard. Approximately 50% of the created marsh will be planted with smooth cordgrass, and the entire ridge will be planted with appropriate woody vegetation. High marsh species will be planted on the slopes of the ridge. After settlement, the containment dikes will be gapped to encourage establishment of natural marsh hydrology and fisheries-support functions.

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The project is located in Region 2, within the Barataria Basin portion of Plaquemines Parish. The project is specifically located within the Bastian Bay and Grand Liard mapping units, near the vicinity of Triumph.

The project was approved for Phase I funding, (Engineering and Design) at the January 2009 Task Force meeting and was selected for Phase II funding (Construction) at the February 2012 Task Force meeting. Construction commenced in July 2014 and was completed in August 2015. Woody vegetation is scheduled for planting in Fall 2017.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 18.

The Grand Liard Marsh and Ridge Restoration project sponsors include:

Keep up with this project and other CWPPRA projects on the project page.

 

Male vs. Female

Can you tell the difference between a male and female blue crab?

la crab 4Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina all share the title of largest blue crab fisheries in the world; Louisiana accounts for over half of all commercial harvest landings in the Gulf of Mexico. While the commercial harvest of the blue crab continues to rise, recreational crabbing popularity is also on a steady climb. Why? Blue crabs spend the majority of their late juvenile and adulthood in estuaries which are often closely located to an accessible shoreline, making blue crabs a delicious challenge to catch. Whether the blue crab is caught commercially or by recreation, there are two distinct methods to sex a blue crab.

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Located on the underside of the crab’s carapace is the abdomen which forms a different shape depending upon the gender of the crab. Females have a broad and rounded abdomen while the male abdomen resembles a narrow t-shape. Another distinguishable characteristic are the red tips of the female’s claws. The blue crab is one of the many aquatic species that rely heavily upon the safety and health of wetlands for survival.

Plants of the Wetlands

smooth cordgrassFound at the interfaces of land formations and water, smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) is an herbaceous, native grass that densely inhabits shorelines. Compact, vegetative smooth cordgrass colonies grow along shorelines and inter-tidal flats of coastal wetlands such as canal banks, levees, marshes, barrier islands, and other regions of soil-water interface. This grass is highly adaptable to a variation of water depths and salinity levels making it a resilient species heavily used for coastal restoration. With an extensive rhizome system, smooth cordgrass is also highly effective as a soil stabilizer for loose soils, contributing to anchorage of the plants and sediment, as well as decrease of erosion effects. Smooth cordgrass acts as a natural buffer which dissipates energy of storm surge and wind impact to interior lands.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act frequently uses smooth cordgrass plugs during vegetative plantings due to the plant’s insensitivity to water and salinity levels, and its success in significant erosion protection to shorelines.

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North Catfish Lake Marsh Creation

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Isolated from the riverine influences of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers, Eastern Terrebonne Basin has experienced some of the highest rates of land loss in Louisiana. The northern shoreline of the Catfish Lake has experienced an average erosion rate of approximately 9.8 ft per year with some areas losing as much as 40 ft per year. Interior marsh loss along the lake rim has also formed a large pond on the east side of the lake shoreline that has breached and threatens to greatly accelerate wetland loss in the area.

The goal of the project is to create marsh habitat and reestablish the northern shoreline of Catfish Lake. Sediment dredged from Catfish Lake will be used to strategically create marsh along the northern shoreline. Smooth cordgrass will be planted along the lake shore-face to help stabilize the shoreline and reestablish a healthy lake rim marsh community. Sediments will be hydraulically dredged from Catfish Lake and pumped via pipeline to create approximately 415 acres of marsh habitat and nourish an additional 251 acres of marsh habitat.

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The North Catfish Lake Marsh Creation project is located in Region 3, Terrebonne Basin, Lafourche Parish, Northern Shoreline of Catfish Lake.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 22. In 2013, TE-112 was approved for Phase I Engineering and Design.

The North Catfish Lake Marsh Creation project sponsors include:

Keep up with this project and other CWPPRA projects on the project page.

 

Wetlands vs. Watersheds

Did you know:

Wetlands and watersheds are directly correlated, yet distinctly different.

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a common waterway, like a stream or river, which then drains into a larger body of water, like the ocean. But how are watersheds and wetlands related? Wetlands provide a link between a watershed and a body of water. Wetlands are significant and directly correlated to watersheds by being an imperative natural system which provides water filtering, decreasing of speed by storage of floodwaters, and protection of coastal shorelines. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act recognizes the importance of wetlands to watersheds, especially during times of high flooding. CWPPRA continues to work diligently to protect, restore, and enhance critical wetlands.

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Marsh Maneuvers

Marsh Maneuvers is an education program focused on increasing the interests and knowledge of the younger generation toward coastal ecology and the biology of the coastal area. The program is a four week series camp in which each week, four parishes send high-school 4-H students to participate in a four-day camp. LSU AgCenter, in cooperation with the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, are sponsors of the Marsh Maneuvers program held at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier, LA. The 64 students experience activities such as airboat tours of natural marsh ecosystems, trolling for aquatic life, learning about both native and invasive vegetation and wildlife, and understanding biological processes on the coast.

On July 19 and 26, the CWPPRA Public Outreach staff gave a presentation and distributed a multitude of published materials to the attendees of the 2016 Marsh Maneuver camps. The presentation focused on CWPPRA’s selection process, projects in southwest Louisiana, and various methods used for restoration. While the majority of coastal erosion occurs in Louisiana, the entire country falls victim to its effects. CWPPRA believes that it is imperative to be aware of the natural and anthropogenic impacts to coastal regions and educate the youth to be ambassadors for restoration of the coast.

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