Four Mile Canal Terracing and Sediment Trapping (TV-18)

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The main cause of current marsh loss is a shoreline erosion
rate of approximately 8 feet/year. A combination of wind
and wake energy prevents sediments introduced by the Gulf
Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) via the Vermilion River and
Four Mile Canal from allowing subaerial marsh development
in the area.

Reduction of shoreline erosion will be achieved by the
buffering capacity of the constructed terraces. The proposed
terrace layout is very different for each area of the project.
The “fish net” design for Little Vermilion Bay is designed to
allow sediment deposition and the terraces in Little White
Lake are aligned to reduce the wind generated waves, thus
reducing shoreline erosion. Thus, marsh habitat will be
created in two ways within the Four Mile Canal Terracing
Project area. First, marsh will immediately be built by
creating approximately 90 terraces from dredged material
and planting them with smooth cordgrass. This action alone
will create 70 acres of subaerial land. Second, by reducing
fetch and wave energy, terraces will promote the deposition
of suspended sediments in the shallow water adjacent to
the terrace edges in Little Vermilion Bay and Little White
Lake. This will slowly build marsh over the life of the
project as subaerial land is built and plants naturally become
established.

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The project is located approximately 4 miles south of
intracoastal City in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. The
project area includes all of Little White Lake and part of the
northeastern embayment of Little Vermilion Bay.

Project construction was completed in May 2004. No
maintenance activities have been undertaken as of 2017
and none are planned prior to project closeout. While some
terraces have eroded since construction, in general the
project is in good condition and functioning as intended.
Shoreline erosion has decreased and wetland acreage has
increased since construction.

This project is on Priority Project List 9

The Federal Sponsor is NOAA NMFS

The Local Sponsor is CPRA

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Evolving Study of Wetlands

From towing an airboat to a site, to driving the vessel, to taking samples in the hot, humid sun, there are many challenges for researchers as they study coastal wetlands.  Thanks to innovations in drone technology, researchers can study the wetlands a little easier. With free movement in every direction, a camera, and various other attachments, drones can gather enormous amounts of data in a fraction of the time that it would take more traditional methods. Drones are far from alone on the forefront of technological advancement. Innovations in drones sit alongside and often work synergistically with GIS/GPS, remote sensing, and machine learning breakthroughs, to name a few.

In addition to the evolution of drone technology, computer software and hardware systems evolve just as quickly, consistently streamlining data collection, processing, and analysis. The two go hand-in-hand, of course; complex software can only be run with more powerful or specialized computer hardware, tailored to the task it will be performing. Major game-changers challenge the norms and traditions of science increasingly more often. In the past several decades, satellite imagery has become more prevalent, drones have allowed scientists and others to access new perspectives, and machine learning has grown to process more parameters at higher speeds. All of this advancement in computing has allowed scientists to develop greater understandings of systems, connectivity, and changes in wetlands.

In addition to improvements in drones, software, and processing power, researchers have improved the development of environmental models. Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, one of CWPPRA’s managing agencies, joined with LSU to design, manufacture, and implement the Center for River Studies’ scale model of the Mississippi River in 2017. An amazing feat of engineering, the river model allows scientists to study several aspects of our coastal zone. Using a sediment medium that mimics Mississippi River sediments, studies can predict what will happen during a flood event, if a diversion gets installed, and so many other situations. Hydrology, sedimentation, and potential ecological impacts can all be measured on this 10,000 square-foot platform at approximately a 13:1-time scale, i.e. one full day running the model represents about thirteen full days on the real Mississippi River.

In a dynamic landscape like coastal Louisiana, good equipment is a huge benefit to studies and planning for the future. Land loss is a complex issue with several moving parts that need to be studied and addressed. It is imperative that there is a good understanding of the full system before any changes are made that could have detrimental effects on any important aspects of our productive, populated, and protective coast.

 

Related articles:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364815217311295

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/remote-sensing

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925857417303658

 

Featured image from https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/09/27/flight-over-the-bas-ogooue-using-drones-to-map-gabons-wetlands/

Barataria Bay Waterway East Side Shoreline Protection (BA-26)

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The banks of the Dupre Cut have eroded considerably as a
result of vessel wakes. Large breaches in the banks
exposed the adjacent marsh to increased water exchange,
tidal energy, and saltwater intrusion.

The objective of this project was to rebuild and stabilize
the east bank of the Dupre Cut. A stronger bank would
reduce erosion and help reestablish wetlands by allowing
sediment accretion on the leeward side of the foreshore
rock dike.

The project plan involved the construction of over 3 miles
of foreshore rock dike along the east bank of the Dupre
Cut to protect adjacent marshes from shoreline erosion.
This rock dike extends above the surface of the water and
will protect the fragile marsh area from boat wakes
generated within the BBWW.

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The project is located in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, on
the east bank of the Dupre Cut portion of the Barataria Bay
Waterway, north of the Lafitte Gas and Oil Field and south
of the subsided land reclamation effort known as “the
Pen.”

 

Construction was completed in June 2001. Baseline
monitoring information has been collected and will be
used to evaluate the project’s effectiveness. The O&M
Plan was signed in October 2002. This project is on
Priority Project List 6.

The Federal Sponsor is NRCS.

The Local Sponsor is CPRA.

EcoSTEAM Summer Camp

Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Project Front Yard hosts five weeks of a summer camp focused on environmental issues and STEAM activities. Eco-STEAM began June 17 and CWPPRA joined campers June 24 through 28. Our Wetland Warriors program included three days of wetland-based activities, outlining important adaptations that help plants and animal species with survival in the dynamic coastal wetlands of Louisiana.

We began on Monday with Wetland Jeopardy because it leads into discussion about wetland ecosystem services and children enjoy the friendly competition. The next day, we focused more specifically on wetland plants and their importance to overall ecosystem health. The Girard Park pond was helpful to discuss adaptations like the bald cypress. Our last day centered on wetland animals, mostly birds, and some of their adaptation for wetlands habitats. Birds are an excellent teaching tool because some can swim, walk, and fly, and beak variability can have some serious implications on species distribution. The campers enjoyed the beak variability activity, which challenged them to use a spoon, a fork, a straw and a toothpick to pick up various shaped snacks like gummy worms, sunflower seeds, goldfish crackers, and mini M&Ms. Our week of wetland instruction concluded with a field trip to Lafayette’s Acadiana Park Nature Station.

This was the Eco-STEAM’s second year and CWPPRA was thrilled to be included again, alongside great community partners including local IT giant CGI, UL Lafayette’s Hilliard Art Museum, the McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie, and Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Office of Community Development, Parks and Recreation Department, and Recycling Division. This program is offered as an affordable summer option for area kindergarten through eighth grade students and we interacted with just over 100 eager new “Wetland Warriors.”

 

Cooperation is Key

The American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) celebrates America’s beaches annually by highlighting recently restored recreational coastal areas. The Caminada Headland’s beach restoration is one of the four winners of the ASBPA’s Best Restored Beach award, alongside South Padre Island in Texas, Waypoint Park Beach in Washington, and Duval County in Florida. [1] The Caminada Headland restoration project was spearheaded by our state partner, CPRA, and multiple CWPPRA projects preceeded it and work synergistically to  improve the entire Caminada barrier island system.

CPRA’s Caminada Headland Beach and Dune Restoration is a barrier island restoration project with two increments (BA-45 and BA-143) constructed in 2015 and 2017. Since the input of approximately 5.4 million cubic yards of sediment, the beach has improved habitat for shorebirds and plants. In addition to the direct benefits of the beach as a habitat, the healthy barrier island will better protect the marsh on the bay side as well as inland wetlands from storm surge and wave energy.

CWPPRA’s Caminada Headlands Back Barrier Marsh Creation increments 1&2 (BA-171, BA-193) is directly behind CPRA’s Caminada Headland Beach and Dune Restoration and greatly benefits from the project.  Together CPRA and CWPPRA have restored a complete barrier island, which would have been difficult and costly to do without partners. Our coast’s future depends on the cooperation of organizations and their projects. Louisiana’s land loss crisis is too large to tackle in one way or by one group, and successful collaboration leads to the best available science, innovative design, and systems-based approaches. CWPPRA and our state partners are working towards a common goal: a healthy coast for the future of our state.

[1] http://asbpa.org/2019/05/20/celebrating-americas-beaches-asbpa-names-its-best-restored-beaches-for-2019/

https://www.lacoast.gov/reports/project/20180601_BI_lessons_learned_SOC18__Darin_Lee.pdf

 

Featured image from https://www.audubon.org/magazine/fall-2017/louisiana-restoring-its-barrier-islands-defend

Enhancement of Barrier Island Vegetation Demonstration (TE-53)

wordpress fact sheet banner TE-53-01Barrier Islands provide critical habitat and are the first line of defense to not only day-to-day coastal erosion but also to the destructive forces of major storm events. There remains a critical need to develop cost-effective improvements to existing restoration methodologies that will enhance the successful establishment and spread of vegetation in these important restoration projects. Developing methodologies to enhance vegetation establishment and growth in barrier island restoration projects is important in this very stressful environment because healthy vegetative cover traps, binds, and stabilizes sand and sediment, thereby improving island integrity during storm and overwash events.

The purpose of this demonstration project was to test several technologies and/or products to enhance the cost-effective establishment and growth of key barrier island and salt marsh vegetation. Humic acid and broadcast fertilization regimes were applied. The humic acid amendment and broadcast fertilization regime techniques are intended to “jump start” and facilitate the rapid establishment and expansion of vegetation. Humic acid benefits were demonstrated in both intertidal and supratidal plantings, whereas broadcast fertilization benefits were only demonstrated in supratidal plantings.

Each product (humic acid and fertilizer) is commercially available and off-the-shelf. Enhancing the establishment of woody vegetation (black mangrove and groundsel bush) was achieved via high-density dispersal techniques of propagules and seeds, a cost-saving alternative to planting container-grown transplants. All treatment test sections and reference planting areas were visually inspected and sampled quarterly (plant and soil variables) and compared to the reference area in order to develop recommendations for future planting projects.

This project involved greenhouse studies and the testing of technologies at two previously planted CWPPRA project sites. The CWPPRA projects involved were New Cut Dune and Marsh Restoration (TE-37) and Whiskey Island Back Barrier Marsh Creation (TE-50). Both sites are located in Terrebonne Parish in the Isles Dernieres Barrier Island area.

 

The project has been completed.

This project is on Priority Project List 16.

The Federal Sponsor is EPA

The Local Sponsor is CPRA

GOMA All Hands Meeting

Community Outreach and Media Specialist Kacie Wright represented the CWPPRA Outreach Team at the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) All Hands Meeting in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Like CWPPRA, GOMA highlights the importance of partnerships to enhance the health of the Gulf Coast. Similarly to CWPPRA being made up of five federal agencies, GOMA is led by leaders of the five Gulf States (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida) and includes a network of individuals from nonprofits, federal agencies, businesses, and academic organizations throughout the Gulf Coast. At the All Hands Meeting, attendees broke into Priority Issue Teams to address issues such as Community Resilience, Data & Monitoring, Education & Engagement, Habitat Resources, Wildlife & Fisheries, and Water Resources. 

Because CWPPRA promotes the value of wetlands and engage the public in the importance of coastal restoration, we attended the Education & Engagement Priority Team meeting. At the meeting, individuals shared new ideas and projects to enhance the Gulf Coast. Team members from the Texas Aquarium shared their work engaging teachers to improve coastal curriculum in schools through NOAA’s Watershed Environmental Education Grants. One individual from the Galveston Bay Keeper detailed her project on changing the behavior of individuals who toss their fishing line into the bay.

The Director of the Mississippi State University Television Center, David Garraway, also presented to the Education & Engagement Team about best practices for crafting effective visual storytelling and going live on social media. Garraway shared the importance of understanding your audience and the message you want to share when creating video content for social media. A key message of his presentation was “show your audience, don’t tell them” when creating videos. 

The Education & Engagement Team also highlighted GOMA’s Embrace the Gulf 2020 campaign. Next year is the ten-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the fifteen-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. GOMA will highlight the benefits gulf ecosystems bring to the communities along the coast. While these disasters have made us stronger, they do not define our communities. We all live and work along the Gulf Coast because we love it here. During Embrace the Gulf 2020, GOMAis planning 365 facts to share with their network and a blueways-paddling trail throughout all five Gulf States. This paddling trail will encourage people to get out on the water and enjoy the coastal ecosystems all along the Gulf Coast. 

The CWPPRA Outreach Team had a great time in Gulf Shores, Alabama, but we are excited to be back in Coastal Louisiana embracing all the new ideas about engaging outreach content and connections with other ambitious groups we formed at the GOMA All Hands Meeting. We are ready to Embrace the Gulf in 2020 and we hope to see you on the Paddle the Gulf paddle trail! We will keep y’all posted as it develops!