Prothonotary Warblers

 

As April passes into May, many migratory birds leave the tropics of Central and South America in search of bountiful summer resources in the sub-tropical United States. Among them, the very charismatic Prothonotary Warbler flies from the northern tropics to the hospitable habitats of the United States. Prothonotary warblers live in forests near bodies of slow-moving water where they can hunt for insects and nest in cavities in trees. The cypress swamps of Louisiana are about as good as it gets for a prothonotary warbler, and they stay from April to August. [1] If you get out into the swamp during the summer, look for their bright yellow figures darting through low-lying foliage.

Prothonotary warblers have experienced a population decline in recent years that experts attributed to the destruction of their wintering habitat in the tropics.[2] To improve breeding success and survivorship, the Audubon Society and other ornithological enthusiasts have encouraged people to install nest boxes that help to protect warbler nests from failing. Many natural threats exist in swamps for warblers, including a variety of snakes, birds of prey, and mammals. Since brown-headed cowbirds will use prothonotary nests to lay their eggs in when given the chance, nest boxes are suggested to have a 1¼“ hole to prevent larger birds from entering the box but still allow the warblers to enter. Boxes are not left on the ground, and are often mounted on poles. Some predators can climb, so many boxes have a skirt/collar that prevents snakes, raccoons, and cats from climbing the poles into the nests. More guidelines for a good nest box can be found at https://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/features-of-a-good-birdhouse/.

 

 

[1] Petit, L. J. (1999). Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.408

[2] Kaufman, Kenn. “Prothonotary Warbler.” Audubon, National Audubon Society, 10 Mar. 2016, http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/prothonotary-warbler.

Featured Image:

Brannon, Peter. “Adult Male.” All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Florida, 14 Sept. 2016, http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Prothonotary_Warbler/id.

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Bio-Engineered Oyster Reef Demonstration (LA-08)

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Purpose:

The purpose of this project is to test a new, bio-engineered, product to address rapid shoreline retreat and wetland loss along the Gulf of Mexico Shoreline in areas with soils of low load bearing capacity. For example, at Rockefeller Refuge, the direct Gulf of Mexico frontage and extremely low soil load bearing capacity (250-330psf), coupled with an average shoreline retreat of 30.9 ft/yr, present unique engineering challenges with a subsequent direct loss of emergent saline marsh.

Restoration Strategy:

The goal of this demonstration project is to evaluate the proposed technique as a cost effective technique for protecting areas of Coastal Louisiana’s Gulf of Mexico Shoreline with poor load bearing capacities.The demonstration project would consist of an Oysterbreak, approximately 1000′ long. The Oysterbreak is a light-weight, modular shore protection device that uses accumulating biomass (an oyster reef) to dissipate wave energy. The bio-engineered structure is designed to grow rapidly into an open structured oyster reef utilizing specifically designed structural components with spat attractant (agricultural byproducts) and enhanced nutrient conditions conducive to rapid oyster growth.

Required Monitoring: [1]

  • Topographic and bathymetric surveys (elevation, water levels)
  • Ground-level photography
  • Aerial photography
  • Wave attenuation (wave energy effects)
  • Oyster and Water quality monitoring

The Oysterbreak is constructed by placing modular units into an open interlocked configuration. The units are sized to be stable under storm wave conditions. The height and width of the Oysterbreak are designed to achieve a moderate initial wave energy reduction. As successive generations of encrusting organisms settle on the Oysterbreak, the structure’s ability to dissipate wave energy increases.

Location:

The project is located along the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Gulf of Mexico shoreline west of Joseph Harbor canal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.

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Project Effectiveness: [2]

The oysterbreaks are providing habitat for oyster settlement and the top layers of rings should be the most likely to support oyster colonies. Recommended improvements include:

  • Types of cement applications
  • Lessening the space available for coastal erosion (the gap between coast and oysterbreaks needs to reduce to prevent further erosion).
  • Crest elevation between the oysterbreaks performed well in wave attenuation and shoreline erosion
  • Increase the height of the structure to improve wave breaking potential

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Progress to Date:

The cooperative agreement between the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources has been executed. Construction was finalized in February 2012. This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 17.

More Information on this Project:

Further Websites Regarding Oyster Reef Restoration:

 

 

Work Cited:

[1] McGinnis and Pontiff. (pages 4-6) LA-08 2012 Operations, Maintenance, and Monitoring Plan, 30 April 2018, https://www.lacoast.gov/reports/project/4224379~1.pdf

[2] McGinnis and Pontiff. (page 22) 2014 Operations, Maintenance, and Monitoring Report for Bioengineered Oyster Reef Demonstration Project (LA-08)

 

 

Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival 2018

The Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival took place on Friday April 20th and Saturday April 21, 2018 (10:30 AM – 5:30 PM) in Franklin, Louisiana.

Making its first debut in 2004 with its mission to “be the development of an eco-friendly environment for the endangered black bear population that resides in St. Mary Parish” [1].

The Goals of the Festival Include [1]:

  • Raising awareness by educating residents of the Louisiana black bear population and its environment in St. Mary Parish
  • Assisting with the development of recreational opportunities at the Bayou Teche Wildlife Refuge
  • Developing and cultivating an appreciation and respect for the environment
  • Providing another opportunity for economic development in St. Mary Parish

Residents from all around the parish including natives of Louisiana and out of state visitors enjoyed the beautiful weather along the Bayou Teche.

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CWPPRA’s public outreach team, arrived on the morning of April 21st in the Historic District of Franklin. Community events included, a color run, jambalaya cook-off, wooden boat show, live and digital music, along with multiple food and service vendors for the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival.

Residents were able to park downtown, then walk to which ever event or vendor they prefer. Families of all shapes and sizes were offered fresh food, hand crafted items, educational literature, and free music.

CWPPRA was fortunate enough to table next to the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge in which had a wildlife display with a corn snake, soft shell turtle, small American alligator, and other fresh water turtles like the red-eared slider.

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CWPPRA made an impact talking with the public about their experiences with wetland restoration and flooding. We met residents from places like Golden Meadow, LA —  Wisconsin, and many local residents of Franklin.

Materials Included:

  • Protect our coast posters
  • Henri Heron’s Activity Book
  • Watermarks Magazines
  • Understanding CWPPRA
  • CWPPRA’s Partners in Restoration Booklet
  • Coastal Wetland Restoration: Resident’s Guide

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CWPPRA would like to thank the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival for hosting the event this year, and to the residents who participated in the Festival.

 

Work Cited:

[1] Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival, 24 April 2018, http://www.bayoutechebearfest.org/index.html.

 

 

Levee Systems in Louisiana

As flooding events continue to increase in frequency and intensity, it is essential for the State of Louisiana to continue moving forward in technology and ingenuity for the construction of levee systems.

Since 1718 natural and man-made levee systems in Louisiana have been crucial in attempt to control the “Mighty Mississippi”. The Mississippi River drains 41% of the continental U.S. and more than half of Louisiana’s land is in a flood plain [1]. Therefore, careful planning, construction and maintenance of levee systems in Louisiana must continue to improve.

What is a levee?

According to the Federal Emergency and Management Authority (FEMA) a levee is a “man-made design and construction in accordance with sound engineering practices to contain, control, or divert the flow of water to provide protection from temporary flooding [2].

Some History on levees:

Before European control, natural processes occurred along the Mississippi River in which sediment deposits created natural levees reaching up to a meter or two in height. [3]. Initially, state government required that farmers and land owners build their own levees with ~10-12 cubic yards per day and reaching 75 feet long in some areas [4].

Today, with multiple Acts by the United States Congress, levee systems are professionally implemented by multiple entities to promote control and prevent flooding.

Who is Involved:

There is no one entity solely responsible for levee construction and maintenance in Louisiana [2].  Some entities that share the responsibility include but are not limited to the following:

levee districts

Current Programs including Levee Development and Planning:

Necessary Plans for the Future:

The Louisiana Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast 2017 calls for project  “construction of a levee to an elevation of 15-35 feet around the Greater New Orleans area from Verret to the Bonnet Carre spillway” [5].

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Incremental Improvements recommended by David Muth (A Director of National Wildlife and Fisheries) include [5]:

  • Levee resilience
  • Increased water storage capacity inside levees
  • Public incentive to participate in building raising or relocation programs
  • Restoring the wetland buffers outside levee

A Plan in the year 2009 from Netherland Engineers to CPRA recommended the following [5]:

  • Raising levees to protect from a 500 year event or greater around central New Orleans
  • Raising levees to 1,000-year levels east of the Industrial Canal and on the West Bank.
  • Recommended a new levee and gates along the New Orleans land bridge, into St. Tammany Parish.

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As flooding events continue to increase in frequency and intensity, it is essential for the State of Louisiana to continue moving forward in ingenuity for flood prevention, policy, planning, funding, and coastal restoration efforts.

Additional Links regarding Levees:

 

Work Cited:

[1] ALBL. “Association of Levee Boards of Louisiana”. 24 April 2018, http://albl.org/

[2] FEMA, “Levees – Frequently Asked Questions”.  24 April 2018, https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1803-25045-4819/st_broomelv.pdf

[3] Kemp, Katherine “The Louisiana Environment: The Mississippi Levee System and the Old River Control Structure”. 24 April 2018, http://www.tulane.edu/~bfleury/envirobio/enviroweb/FloodControl.htm

[4] Rogers, David. “Evolution of the Levee System Along the Lower Mississippi River”. 24 April 2018, http://web.mst.edu/~rogersda/levees/Evolution%20of%20the%20Levee%20System%20Along%20the%20Mississippi.pdf

[5] Schleifstein, Mark. “New Orleans area’s upgraded levees not enough for next “Katrina” engineers say”. 24 April 2018, http://www.nola.com/futureofneworleans/2015/08/new_levees_inadequate_for_next.html

UL-Lafayette Fête de la Terre

What better way to spend a Friday afternoon than with jambalaya, Cajun music, and conservation? That is how the CWPPRA outreach team and many other organizations spent last Friday, April 20th, at the UL-Lafayette Fête de la Terre Expo. The expo showcased many wonderful local groups including, but not limited to, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the TECHE Project, and the Bayou Vermilion District, all hosted by the ULL Office of Sustainability.

Students visiting the expo could learn about how long it takes for different types of litter to decompose naturally, how solar panels are used to generate power, and whether or not to recycle different waste products. During their visit, they could grab free jambalaya, listen to the Cajun jam session, or decorate their very own reusable grocery bag. There are so many resources that help our community celebrate conservation, and the expo was a beautiful day for getting ULL students and faculty involved, interested, and informed.

 

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The Future of Urban Deltas

An urban delta may be defined as a city home to as many as half a billion people living and working in a deltaic zone where rivers meet the ocean. These communities are coastal, riparian, & urban which are threatened by increasingly strong typhoons, hurricanes, uneven rainfall patterns with droughts [6].

According to New America, the 3 major global trends are climate change, rural to urban migration, and urban economic concentration. The Delta Coalition is the world’s first international coalition of governments joining forces to share knowledge, innovation and sustainability practices to create more resilient urban deltas [1].

Urban Delta_Image 2

Policy makers, politicians, NGOs, academics, engineers, designers and consultants worked and talked together about the challenges and opportunities of the world’s urban deltas at a Sustainable Urban Deltas conference in 2016 [4].

Deltaic countries who have joined The Delta Coalition  include: Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mozambique, Myanmar, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Vietnam [6]. Other organizations moving forward toward sustainable urban deltas are PRIVA, and Sustainable Urban Delta where waste water recycling, or creating bio-fuel from food waste are examples of sustainable innovations for urban deltas [5].

World City Populations 1950-2030

Urban Population Image 1

By one count, over 1/4 of the world’s 136 largest port cities occupy deltaic formations [2] and the percentage of people living in urban areas “has grown from 34% in 1960 to a projected 66% in 2050” [6].

Urbanization is directly related to economic growth, creating more jobs, and increasing population; though this steadfast increase is positive in some ways, it also increases the chance of poor governmental preparedness resulting in poor living conditions, quality of life, and slums [6].

“It is clear we can only solve the world’s environmental problems if we solve the problems of our cities first” [1]. — According to Chief Curator of IABR ( International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam), world leaders must  invest in learning the capacity of cities, experiment, and join networks while creating new and positive urban visualizations towards a productive, clean and socially inclusive city [3].

In regards to Louisiana’s urban delta, CPRA developed Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast to incorporate coastal wetland protection and restoration for coastal and deltaic communities, and CWPPRA projects are consistent with the Master Plan.

Urban Delta_Image 1

Continue reading “The Future of Urban Deltas”

Black Bayou Culverts Hydrological Restoration (CS-29)

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The marsh within this area has been suffering from excessive water levels within the lakes subbasin that kills vegetation, prevents growth of desirable annual plant species, and contributes to shoreline erosion. Black Bayou offers a unique location in the basin where the water in the lakes subbasin and the outer, tidal waters are separated by only a narrow highway corridor.

Project components include installing ten 10 foot by 10 foot concrete box culverts in Black Bayou at the intersection of Louisiana Highway 384. The structure discharge will be in addition to the discharges provided by Calcasieu Locks, Schooner Bayou, and Catfish Point water control structures.

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The project features are located in southern Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. The majority of the project area is located east of Calcasieu Lake and includes areas north of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and west of Grand Lake in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.

Construction has been completed.

This project is on Priority Project List 9.

Federal Sponsor: NRCS

Local Sponsor: CPRA