Nutria Harvest for Wetland Restoration Demonstration (LA-03a)

Louisiana’s growing nutria population is detrimental to the state’s coastal marshes as the animals consume wetland plants that hold the soil together.

Location

This project was located throughout the coastal zone of Louisiana.

Problems

The nutria is a non-native, fur-bearing species in the rodent family that was introduced to enhance the Louisiana fur industry. Since the decline of the fur industry, nutria populations have increased tremendously along the coast. Because nutria voraciously consume marsh plants that help anchor wetlands, this non-native nutria population is now having a significant negative impact on coastal marsh health.

Restoration Strategy

The goals of this demonstration project were to determine if nutria meat for human consumption could be promoted and determine if a meat processing system promotional program could be developed. Meeting these goals would have facilitated nutria harvest through an increased meat demand. The project called for Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act funding matching that of participating meat-processing plants in order to compensate trappers for the nutria they harvest. The project also included monitoring selected coastal marsh areas by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to assess both nutria damage and recovery resulting from this project.

Other components of the project included nutria meat recipe development and publication, along with an advertising and marketing strategy focused on increasing the public demand for nutria meat. The project was implemented by the LDWF with oversight by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Progress to Date

This demonstration project was approved by the Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force in April 1997. Through this project, LDWF has coordinated with consultants to develop and implement various nutria meat marketing activities.

Marketing activities included LDWF staff activities and contracting with consultants to: (1) develop and evaluate local, national, and international nutria meat market potential for human consumption; (2) develop a nutria meat marketing plan, including a Nutria Marketing Strategic Report which proposed various ways to encourage the public to eat nutria; (3) participate in festivals and chef’s competitions; (4) distribute nutria meat to the public through sales at grocery stores, restaurants, and other retail outlets; (5) determine nutria meat processing costs, product price structure, and potential meat production volume; and (6) plan promotional and advertising activities based on the Nutria Marketing Strategic Report.

The LDWF 1999, 2000, and 2001 nutria coastal damage surveys and reports indicated continued nutria-related marsh damages in the Louisiana deltaic plain at a level of approximately 100,000 acres per year impacted. Because of the January 2002 Task Force approval of the larger Coastwide Nutria Control Program (LA-03b), the LDWF discontinued providing incentive payments to trappers and conducting nutria herbivory surveys under this demonstration project. Those two items will be funded under the larger project. However, funding for nutria meat processors enrolled in the program, as well as nutria meat marketing activities, continued until the project was completed in October 2003. This project is on Priority Project List 6.

The project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 6.

The Federal Sponsor is US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Local Sponsor is CPRA.

Approved Date: 1997
Project Area: N/A
Approved Funds: $0.80 M
Total Est. Cost: $0.80 M
Net Benefit After 20 Years: N/A
Status: Completed
Project Type: Demonstration: Herbivory Control

A Coastal Visit From St. Nicholas

Please enjoy this CWPPRA Parody of Moore’s holiday classic “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” more widely recognized as “The Night Before Christmas.”

 

‘Tis the day we call Christmas and all through the marsh,

The conditions are getting unusually harsh.

Their flowers are wilting, the shrubs getting bare

In response to the cold and dry air that is there.

 

Losing some green as the maples turn red,

Creatures prepare for hard times just ahead.

Drakes coming south, [1] with their females so drab,

Their sexes dimorphic, just like a blue crab.

 

Unlike the crab, though, get out of the water;

The crabs get to rest until it gets hotter.

They bury themselves in the mud and the mash, [2]

Unfortunate ones have to bury in trash! (Please don’t litter.)

 

Our coast doesn’t freeze much but this year might go

To 32 Fahrenheit, maybe below.

Some creatures go far, but some must stay near,

Plants and their roots are anchored right here.

 

Cold can be dangerous, plants can get sick,

Mangroves don’t have a cold-weather trick.

They deal with the salt and they deal with the rain,

But mangroves fear cold, so South they remain. [3]

 

The Turtles, the gators, the lizards, the snakes,

All have cold blood, and so they brumate. [4]

So, hang all your wreaths and deck all the halls,

But think of the wildlife, no matter how small.

 

Habitat loss can hurt plants just as well,

Even those plants that are one simple cell.

Some plants can float and some plants can grow stalks;

yet to be found is a plant that can walk.

 

But wait! We humans have legs we can use

To move plants to places, like in Calcasieu.

Pontchartrain, Breton Sound, Atchafalaya,

These wetland basins now cook jambalaya.

 

We love our heritage and love spicy food;

we also love science that’s been peer-reviewed.

The Delta gets sediment and it slowly grows,

But what of the rest that sits under our nose?

 

Let’s restore our coast, let’s give it a try,

Think about those who can swim, walk, or fly.

Those who are sessile, of course, matter too.

CWPPRA loves wetlands, alive through and through.

 

Our work is important, it always gets better,

sometimes with projects that work well together.

Funding the coastline is not just a show,

It helps our plants and our wildlife grow.

 

Other good things that come from restoring

Are seafood, and commerce, and outdoor exploring.

We protect ports and some habitat too,

We protect cities and we protect you.

 

Enough of the bragging, there’s still more to learn

On techniques we use to reduce the concern!

We nourish beaches to give seabirds refuge

And rebuild salt marsh for protection from deluge.

 

Working away, we burn midnight’s oil

To stop salt intrusion and relocate soils.

We plan with our partners to restore the most

For CWPPRA to work on Protecting Our Coast.

 

[1] https://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/explore/regions/southeast/louisiana/louisiana-birding-season-fall.php

[2] https://www.bluecrab.info/faq.htm

[3] https://databasin.org/datasets/6ec804f5250a483abd9bdb200939247f

[4] http://www.loyno.edu/lucec/natural-history-writings/where-do-alligators-go-winter

Featured image from http://www.realestnature.com/south-louisiana-salt-marsh-fishing/

Original poem:

Moore, C. (1823). A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas). A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas)(Lit2Go Edition). Retrieved December 18, 2018, from http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/234/a-visit-from-st-nicholas-twas-the-night-before-christmas/5903/a-visit-from-st-nicholas-twas-the-night-before-christmas/

 

Bayou Dupont Ridge Creation and Marsh Restoration (BA-48)

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Problems: 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. Land loss data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that loss was occurring at a rate of 1.7% per year prior to construction. The natural limits of Bayou Dupont were difficult to determine in some areas because land loss was causing a merge of the bayou to adjacent water bodies. Natural tidal flow and drainage of patterns that once existed through the bayou were circumvented by the increasing area of open water.

Restoration Strategy: Project goals included: 1) creating and nourishing approximately 390 acres of marsh through sediment pipeline delivery from the Mississippi River; and   2) creating over two miles of ridge (10.5 acres of ridge habitat) along a portion of the southwestern shoreline of Bayou Dupont. Sediment from the river was hydraulically pumped to the project site to construct both the marsh and ridge features and additional material was dredged from Bayou Dupont to cover the ridge. The ridge is designed to mimic the configuration of other natural ridges within the watershed, and includes a constructed elevation conducive for the growth of native vegetation such as live oak, hackberry, and yaupon. The ridge is helping to redefine the limits of Bayou Dupont and reestablish the natural bank that once flanked the bayou and  protected adjacent marshes.

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Location: This project is located within the Barataria Basin in Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. The marsh creation area is located along Bayou Dupont southeast of the waterbody known as the Pen.

Progress to Date: Construction began in the Fall of 2014 in conjunction with the Mississippi River Long Distance Sediment Pipeline Project (BA-43EB) and Bayou Dupont Sediment Delivery-Marsh Creation #3 (BA-164). Construction of the Bayou Dupont (BA-48) portion was completed in fall of 2015.

This project is on Priority Project List 17.

Louisiana’s National Hunting and Fishing Day 2018

Hosted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, CENLA Hunting and Fishing Day took place in Woodworth, Louisiana on Saturday, September 22, 2018. National Hunting and Fishing Day “was created in 1972 by Congress to celebrate the conservation contributions of our nation’s hunters and anglers” [1].  This national celebration is the largest public event for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries which hosts activities at four locations across the state reaching up to 10,000 citizens [1]. At the Woodworth location, there were about 30 activities and exhibits open to the public from 8:00AM to 1:30PM. CWPPRA Outreach staff were set up near the Rapides Wildlife Association, USDA-NRCS, and Boy Scouts of America Troop 49.

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At the CWPPRA exhibit, visitors had the opportunity to test their knowledge of wetland plants, animals, and benefits with our Wetland Jeopardy game. This event was an opportunity for CWPPRA Outreach to connect with people outside of the coastal parishes. The people in Woodworth welcomed our group and took advantage of CWPPRA materials at the outreach table which included our new vintage-style project posters, Henri Heron’s Activity Book, and recent issues of WaterMarks. Additionally, we handed out a record number of invasive roseau cane scale informational pamphlets to interested outdoors-men. Examples of activities held at other exhibits included pinecone bird feeders, fresh and salt water fish ID, and primitive fire starting.

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Citizens who had never heard of CWPRPA learned about our mission to construct projects that protect and restore wetlands and barrier islands in coastal Louisiana. CWPPRA projects may focus on coastal land, but the connections between the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi and other rivers in Louisiana also influence our wetlands. existence. Communities depend on wetlands for activities such as hunting, fishing, recreation, or as a source of income. CWPPRA takes a holistic approach to engage citizens of all backgrounds, with the goal of increasing their support for wetland restoration and environmental stewardship.

Source:
[1] Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. National Hunting and Fishing Day 2018. 1 October 2018. http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/nhfd2018
[2] Featured Image: Accessed on 2 October 2018.  https://www.facebook.com/cenlanhfd/photos/a.417626328375536/464852536986248/?type=3&theater

Classifying Wetlands Part 2

Last week’s Wetland Wednesday mentioned 3 main criteria as part of identifying a wetland (wetland hydrology, hydrophytic vegetation, and hydric soils). – Today we’ll look at how plants and soils help scientists delineate wetlands.

In the field, scientists identify and sample soils and plants as part of wetland delineation. The LSU AgCenter groups plant species based on where the plant is naturally found as seen in the table below.

indicator_2Wetland plants have adapted to flooded soils. “Obligate” plants can tolerate water at high levels or when soil saturation is a normal condition to that area. Examples of these plants include the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), or cattail (Typha latifolia) [3].

In contrast, plants that cannot handle flooded conditions for an extended period would naturally be in the “upland” area of land (i.e. winged sumac (Rhus copallina), eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), or panic grass (Dichanthelium sp.) [3].

People delineating wetlands focus on a project area according to aerial and soil maps along with aerial photographs [1]. Delineators then take soil samples and determine characteristics seen in hydric soils which relate to cycles of flooding and drying. – Examples of those include oxidized soils, hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell) and organic bodies found on plant roots. Finally, the plant and soil types are compared, tested, then matched to determine wetland boundaries for mapping and policy purposes [1].

Wetland delineation is a tool for protecting and documenting these important landscapes which contribute to a healthy and functional environment. It is important to note that wetland delineation requires much more than just plant and soil identification. CWPPRA utilizes sound science, engineering, mapping, and geo-technical surveys in the process of planning, approving, constructing, and maintaining coastal Louisiana wetland restoration projects.

Sources:

[1] Bedhun, Rebecca. 2018. “Watch and Lean Now: How To Do A Wetland Delineation”. Shoret Elliot Hendrickson Inc. Available: http://www.sehinc.com/news/watch-and-learn-now-how-do-wetland-delineation [September 9, 2018]

[2] Jon Kusler. “Common Questions: Wetland Definition, Delineation, and Mapping”. Association of State Wetland Managers, Inc. Available: https://www.aswm.org/pdf_lib/14_mapping_6_26_06.pdf [September 9, 2018]

[3] LSU Ag Center. 2018. Louisiana Plant Identification: Plant List. Available: http://www.rnr.lsu.edu/plantid/listcommon.htm [September 10, 2018]

 

Bayou Cane Marsh Creation (PO-181)

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Problems:
In 2005, the marshes in the North Shore Mapping Unit sustained severe damage due to Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds of acres of emergent marsh within this mapping unit were lost, resulting in hundreds of acres of shallow open water and scour ponds averaging about 2 ft deep. USGS calculated a 1984 to 2016 area loss rate of -0.91 % per year. Currently there is one area along the shoreline that looks as if a breach is forming. This area also has a small pond immediately behind the critical shoreline. If there were a breach in this area it would allow direct connection between the fresher interior marshes and higher salinity waters of Lake Pontchartrain.
Restoration Strategy:
The overall goal of this project is to restore marshes that were lost and/or damaged due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Restoring the marshes should reduce salinity effects on interior emergent marshes.
The proposed features of this project consist of filling approximately 384 acres of shallow open water and nourishing an additional 65 acres of fragmented and/or low marsh with material hydraulically dredged from Lake Pontchartrain. Target settled marsh elevation would be +1.2 NAVD 88, but will ultimately correspond to surrounding healthy marsh.
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Progress to Date:
This project was approved for Phase I Engineering and Design on February 9th, 2018.
This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 27.
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Louisiana’s Defense Systems: Wetlands and the Case of the Great Wall of Louisiana

In 2013 the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed construction of the “Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier”. The project is funded through the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) for southeast Louisiana and considered to be the largest civil works project in corps history. The barrier was built to combat storm surge heights like those observed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. More commonly known as the Great Wall of Louisiana, engineering innovations like a 1000 foot trestle allowed the project to be completed in about 3 years’ time instead of an estimated 20. The barrier wall is 1.8 miles in distance, 26 feet tall, and at an estimated construction cost of $1.1 billion federally funded dollars.

Louisiana contains 40 percent of the continental United States’ wetland acreage. Coastal wetlands can protect against storm surge energy and flooding by marsh grasses, trees, and soil working as as system. However Louisiana continues to lose wetlands due to problems like subsidence, sea-level rise, sediment deprivation, oil and gas development, and climate change. With an extreme need of wetland preservation, coastal agencies like CWPPRA and USACE are strategizing to combat these issues.

USACE is one of the five managing agencies of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act. CWPPRA’s mission is to fund, plan, design, and construct restoration projects in coastal Louisiana at a large and fast pace scale. CWPPRA projects are synergistically funded through partner programs, such as the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Borgne Surge Barrier to protect, preserve, and restore Louisiana’s coast.

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Featured Image Source: https://bit.ly/2MjEIyA

Planning for Coastal Changes Together

The Louisiana Coastal Master Plan strategically plans restoration and risk reduction projects for the current and future Louisiana coast. This state-wide plan is updated every 6-years and focuses on a 50-year view which “coordinates Louisiana’s local, state, and federal responses to land loss, and potential threats from hurricanes and storm surge events” [2]. The Master Plan was developed by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and models scientific data through different scenarios to determine which projects have priority. CPRA represents the State of Louisiana and contributes 15% of costs for Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) projects. Since all CWPPRA projects are partially funded by the state of Louisiana, then all CWPPRA projects must be consistent with the Coastal Master Plan.

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The Louisiana Coastal Master Plan is an example for communities around the world who are facing coastal land loss at home. For example there is a recent partnership agreement between the Dutch research institute Deltares and the  Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge. Therefore both institutions can benefit and contribute to the planning being done to preserve Louisiana coastal wetlands. Other areas facing coastal land loss, like Singapore, Indonesia, and Canada also have an interest in the work being done in Louisiana and the Netherlands [1]. By working together, communities in Louisiana and elsewhere can adapt to and protect changing coasts.

Click here to learn more about Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan.

Click here to learn about your flood zone in Louisiana.

Sources:

[1] Roberts, Faimon. Louisiana institute, Dutch research group launch partnership to study water issues. Available: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/environment/article_35247102-635a-11e7-9176-9f60e4fab282.html [July 31, 2018].

[2] The Louisiana Coastal Master Plan. Available:http://coastal.la.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2017-Coastal-Master-Plan_Web-Book_CFinal-with-Effective-Date-06092017.pdf [July 31, 2018].

New Cut Dune and Marsh Creation (TE-37)

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* Problems:  New Cut was first formed in 1974 when the eastern end of Trinity Island was breached during Hurricane Carmen. This breach was further widened by Hurricane Juan in 1985 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. — The Isles Dernieres shoreline is one of the most rapidly deteriorating barrier shorelines in the U.S., exhibiting a pattern of fragmentation and disintegration.  — With regard to long shore sediment transport systems or the movement of beach material by waves and currents, the islands have ultimately become sources of sediment themselves leading to an ever-decreasing volume of sediment.

* Restoration Strategy: The purpose of this project was to close the breach between Trinity and East Islands through the direct creation of beach, dune, and marsh habitat. This project also lengthened the structural integrity of eastern Isles Dernieres by restoring the littoral drift by adding sediment into the nearshore system (restoring about 8,000 linear feet of barrier island).
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* Location: New Cut is the breach between East and Trinity Islands in the Isles Dernieres barrier  island chain. The cut is bordered on the north by Lake Pelto, on the west by Trinity Island, on the east by East Island and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico, in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
* Progress to Date: A rock dike and approximately 2 million cubic yards of dredged material reconstructed a dune and marsh platform to protect the shoreline from erosion and to restore interior marsh lost from subsidence and saltwater intrusion.
Phase 2 (construction) funding was initially approved at the January 2001 Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force meeting and additional funds allocated in 2006 to account for change in borrow site and post-hurricane increased construction costs. Dredging was completed July 2007. About 8,000 linear feet of barrier island was restored by placing approximately 850,000 cubic yards of material. New Cut was closed through the construction of a dune platform matching the dune elevations on the east and west, strengthening the connection between East and Trinity Islands. Nine species of native barrier island vegetation were planted along with over 17,000 linear feet of sand fencing. No maintenance is anticipated over the 20-year design life.
* This Project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 9.
* Federal Sponsor:
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  Dallas, TX
  (214) 664-6722
* Local Sponsor:
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The Louisiana Artificial Reef Program

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 [1]. 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.

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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.

Source:

[1] McDonough, Mike. The Louisiana Artificial Reef Program. Available: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/artificial-reef-program [July 10, 2018].