The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) is federal legislation enacted in 1990 to identify, prepare, and fund construction of coastal wetland restoration projects in Louisiana. As part of the CWPPRA program, there is also the CWPPRA public outreach committee.
The CWPPRA outreach committee works with people of different ages, backgrounds, and interests from across the state and country. The committee works to develop an appreciation for the unique wetlands of Louisiana, and the role that CWPPRA has in protecting and restoring those resources. Although based in Lafayette, Louisiana at the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research, outreach staff travel across Louisiana and beyond to talk with policy-makers, educators, fishermen and hunters, scientists, and community members.
Outreach at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Terrebonne Parish Coastal Day
Since a diverse group of stakeholders have an interest in protecting Louisiana’s coast, the outreach staff network with many groups and participate in a variety of activities including:
- hosting a yearly Dedication Ceremony for recently completed projects;
- developing educational materials like Henri Heron’s Activity Book and WaterMarks magazine;
- exhibiting at national conferences like State of the Coast 2018 and Restore America’s Estuaries Summit 2016;
- working with CWPPRA Task Force, Technical Committee, and Working Group members to communicate the importance of our projects to the public at local events like Terrebonne Parish Coastal Day;
- maintaining the LUCC calendar for coastal events.
The CWPPRA Public Outreach Committee enjoys talking to people about our interest in coastal Louisiana, and these conversations aid in the progress of coastal wetland restoration. Given the complex nature and scale of land loss in Louisiana, it takes many people working together to help restore the coast. — CWPPRA Outreach educates the public about why coastal wetland restoration is important and how CWPPRA projects contribute to supporting these habitats and communities.
More information about the outreach materials available can be found at lacoast.gov.
Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival
Working with teachers at WETSHOP
On July 7th, 2018, the CWPPRA Public Outreach team spent the day at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, LA, talking to museum visitors. We were the special exhibit for the museum’s ‘First Saturday Family Program’ series. As the special exhibit, we were set up near the entrance, and we caught the eyes of all who entered the building. Visitors competed in Wetland Jeopardy, took silly pictures in our photo booth, and matched beanbag animals to their wetland homes! We also had Protect Our Coast posters, recent issues of WaterMarks, activity books, and other publications available.
The Museum hosts many special exhibits, which can be found on their calendar here. https://louisianastatemuseum.org/museum/capitol-park-museum
We were fortunate to have this time in a great museum full of Louisiana history. The regular exhibits included Plessy v. Ferguson, sport hunting and fishing, the civil war, the Mississippi steamboats, and native tribal history. There were several exhibits on large local industries like farming, oil, and fisheries as well. Coastal wetlands are an important resource that all Louisianans share, contributing to storm protection, the economy, and recreational opportunities, and visitors to the museum had the opportunity to connect CWPPRA’s restoration work with the colorful history and culture of Louisiana.
Established in 1986, the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program takes advantage of obsolete oil and gas platforms which were recognized as providing habitat important to many of Louisiana’s coastal fishes . Participating companies donate materials, and 1/2 of their savings into the Louisiana Artificial Reef Trust Fund.
In 1999, the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program created the World’s largest artificial reef from the Freeport sulfur mine off Grand Isle, Louisiana.
The Louisiana Artificial Reef Program Has:
- Converted over 400 obsolete platforms into permanent artificial reefs Gulf-wide
- Developed 30 inshore reefs in Louisiana state waters
- Supported 71 oil and gas companies to participate and donate
One of the (5) main objectives of the Coastal Master Plan, includes the restoration of coastal habitats. Programs such as the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program, provide fisheries habitat in the form of converted rigs, provide support to CWPPRA and other partners funding coastal restoration projects.
 McDonough, Mike. The Louisiana Artificial Reef Program. Available: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/artificial-reef-program [July 10, 2018].
This headland experiences some of the highest shoreline retreat rates in the nation, measuring over 100 feet a year in some locations. As the gulf encroaches upon the shoreline, sand is removed and the headland erodes. What was once a continuous shoreline spanning several miles has been reduced to less than half its original length. Furthermore, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita removed most of the emergent headland and dunes west of the pass. This headland helps provide protection to interior marshes and the Port Fourchon area; however, its continued degradation threatens the fragile bay habitat and infrastructure it once protected.
This project will reestablish the West Belle headland by rebuilding a large portion of the beach, dune, and back barrier marsh that once existed. Approximately 9,800 feet of beach and dune will be rebuilt using nearly 2.8 million cubic yards of dredged sand, and 150 acres of marsh habitat will be rebuilt using nearly 1.4 million cubic yards of dredged material. Native vegetation will be planted upon construction to help stabilize the rebuilt marsh and dune habitat.
The project is located along the Chenier Caminada headland to the west of West Belle Pass, at the southeastern edge of Timbalier Bay in Lafourche Parish, Lousiana.
This project was approved for engineering and design in October 2006. Construction funds were approved by the Task Force in late 2009, construction began fall 2011, and construction was completed in October 2012.
This project is on Priority Project List 16.
Federal Sponsor: NOAA NMFS
Local Sponsor: CPRA
Neither time nor sediment should go to waste! CWPPRA and our partners believe that beneficial use of dredged material in projects is an important part of coastal wetlands restoration.
Beneficial use, in simple terms, is the act of using dredged materials to fortify our barrier islands, build marsh platforms, or nourish the coastline instead of disposing it into places that will not benefit from it. Dredging is necessary to keep important transportation channels open for commercial ships and recreational boating. When dredging a canal, sediment is often dumped in holding facilities or off the continental shelf because of the low price tag. Borrowing sediment from otherwise untouched and stable areas is not necessary when dredging already makes viable material readily available. 
Many CWPPRA projects that are approved for construction have implemented beneficial use of sediment. For example:
- BA-39 Mississippi River Sediment Delivery – Bayou Dupont
- MR-08 Beneficial Use of Hopper Dredged Material Demonstration
- AT-02 Atchafalaya Sediment Delivery
- TE-44 North Lake Mechant Landbridge Restoration
- CS-28 Sabine Refuge Marsh Creation (Cycle II and onwards)
- And many more!
Of course, some areas will not be in close enough proximity to a channel with reliable dredging, but we want to maximize beneficial use when and where possible. For CS-28-2, our partners installed a permanent dredged material pipeline to further decrease damage to coastal wetlands that temporary pipelines can cause. The permanent pipeline ensures that whenever the Calcasieu River Ship Channel needs dredging, the dredged material goes to restoring wetlands with as little detrimental influence as possible.
Sediment is a valuable resource for coastal Louisiana, and the need for sediment across the coast means that we can’t afford to waste any. CWPPRA projects strive to use sediment from as many sources as possible so that more projects have the material they need- with some creativity, a little sediment can go a long way.
Featured image from https://www.theadvocate.com/acadiana/news/article_5f227419-6c44-5a0d-a641-1af377e5bb91.html
Fishermen and spectators came together on Grand Isle, LA this past weekend to be a part of the 34th Annual Creole Classic Fishing Tournament, three days spent hoping to catch “the big one.” This annual event helps raise money for local charities while also giving thousands of outdoor enthusiasts an excuse to have fun on the coast. Held at the Bridge Side Marina in Grand Isle, the fishing tournament awards prizes in adult, child, and sponsor categories for fish like flounder, speckled trout, and bull red. While participants spend their days on the water, in the evenings they gather at the marina to weigh their catch, listen to music, and enjoy Cajun food.
This year the Creole Classic added a children’s activity area on Friday evening, coordinated by Restore or Retreat. Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) outreach staff set up the “Mysterious Wetland Wonders” activity, inviting kids (and adults) to guess the plant or animal relic (like an oyster shell or cypress knee) in the box by reading clues and feeling it with their hands. Kids also created Wilson’s plover chicks with LA Audubon and made prints of starfish and fish with Restore or Retreat. CWPPRA staff also had Protect Our Coast posters, WaterMarks, and Henri Heron Activity books available.
Making Wilson’s plover chicks with LA Audubon
CWPPRA staff try out “Coast 360” with Restore or Retreat
Coastal wetlands provide important habitat for a variety of fish species, helping Louisiana maintain its place as Sportsman’s Paradise. Unfortunately, these habitats are disappearing as erosion and subsidence take their toll on the coastal zone. CWPPRA works with our partners to protect and rebuild coastal wetlands so that fish, and the fishermen who pursue them, have a place to live and play.
Coastal Louisiana boasts an impressive number of state parks that span a variety of ecosystems. Many of the parks contain salt or fresh wetlands, and each is unique; cypress-willow-tupelo swamps, pine forests, cordgrass marshes, and grass-dominated prairie, to name a few. Tourists are very fortunate to have so many different choices when planning their trips. For example, hiking and camping in a bottomland hardwood forest can be found at Chicot State Park, beaches and boating can be done at Grand Isle State Park, and a mix of fresh and salt water fishing can be found in Bayou Segnette State Park. Many of these parks offer a birding guide to help with identifying migratory songbirds, wading birds, and many others. A complete list of Louisiana State Parks can be found at https://www.crt.state.la.us/louisiana-state-parks/parks/index.
As impressive as the state parks may be, they are not the only parks in Louisiana. Louisiana is home to 23 National Wildlife Refuges, 8 National Parks, and 1 National Forest, among other attractions. CWPPRA has several projects within national refuges that have helped to maintain the appeal of our natural splendor to visitors. Through hydrologic restoration which helps freshwater move into coastal areas, marsh creation to increase existing land, and shoreline protection to combat erosion, we hope to preserve the areas like Cameron Prairie NWR, Big Branch Marsh NWR, and Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge in a way that they can be enjoyed for many years to come. With such vibrant ecosystems, it is no wonder .
More information about the national wildlife refuges can be found at https://www.fws.gov/refuges/refugelocatormaps/louisiana.html
More information about the national parks can be found at https://www.nps.gov/state/la/index.htm
Featured image from https://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/explore/regions/southeast/louisiana/louisiana-birding.php