Atchafalaya Sediment Delivery (AT-02)

A bucket dredge is shown removing sediment from a shoaled-in channel in order to help reestablish water and sediment flow within the Atchafalaya Delta.


The project is located east of the lower Atchafalaya River navigation channel in the Atchafalaya River Delta, approximately 19 miles southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana, in St. Mary Parish.


Growth of the lower Atchafalaya Delta has been reduced as a result of maintenance of the Atchafalaya River navigation channel. Delta development in the shallow waters of Atchafalaya Bay is dependent on distributary flows and the diversion of sediments into over-bank areas through crevasse channels.

Because of the placement of material dredged from the navigation channel and sediment accumulation within the channels that decrease flow efficiency, the open crevasse channels are frequently short-lived. As riverflow through a crevasse channel is reduced, the amount of sediment that can be deposited in the delta is likewise reduced, resulting in decreased marsh development.

Restoration Strategy

The purpose of this project is to promote natural delta development by reopening two silted-in channels and using those dredged sediments to create new wetlands. Approximately 720,000 cubic yards of sediment were dredged from Natal Channel and Castille Pass in 1998. Over 12,000 feet of channel were reopened, and more than 280 acres of new habitat were created by the strategic placement of the dredged channels’ sediments. By reestablishing water and sediment flow into the eastern part of the Atchafalaya Delta, an additional 1,200 acres of new habitat are expected to be naturally created over the life of the project.


Progress to Date

Construction was completed in 1998. A pre- versus post-construction habitat analysis using aerial photography indicated that, while there was an increase in land of 78.4 acres, the majority of the habitat created was represented by forested wetland (50.1 acres), while fresh marsh and upland barren habitats accounted for 14 acres gain each. Although many of the dominant plant species are present in both created and reference areas, the created areas contained different plant communities when compared to any time period in the development of a natural crevasse splay that served as a reference area for this project. Although the long-term effects on submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) are unclear, habitat mapping indicated an increase in SAV habitat of 221.5 acres from 1997 to 1998, but this is very close to the increases that were reported in the project area pre-construction. Satellite imagery indicates that there have been significant increases in emergent acreage from 1998 to 2008.

This project is on Priority Project List 2.

The Federal Sponsor is National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Local Sponsor is CPRA.

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.






Featured image from

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