The Teche-Vermilion Basin Project was included in the 1966 Flood Control Act after a 1961 study by Louisiana’s Department of Public Works showed deteriorating water quality and insufficient water in Bayou Vermilion and Bayou Teche. Ground water was threatened with contamination by salt water due to lack of flow of the Teche and Vermilion Bayous. The purpose of the project is to restore the flow of water to the Teche-Vermilion basin, improve water quality through the increased flow, and prevent salt water from entering the lower parts of the basin. The increased flow is also intended to restore the water supply available for agricultural and industrial needs before the protection levees were built. The state legislature created the Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District Board of Commissioners in 1969. The Board of Commissions was charged with responsibility for the maintenance and operations of the original project of the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as major replacements.
On October 21, CWPPRA staff attended the Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District Annual Inspection Meeting at the Teche-Vermilion Pump Station in Krotz Springs, La. The meeting began with a welcome speech from Donald Sagrera, TVFWD Executive Director. Introductions of property possession parish commissioners were made beginning with Ed Sonnier, Lafayette Parish; Donald Segura, Iberia Parish; Tommy Thibodeaux, St. Martin Parish; Mike Detraz, Vermilion Parish; and Bradley Grimmett, St. Landry Parish. A positive inspections report was given by Darrel Pontiff of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, as well as Ted Elts of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Ed Sonnier, TVFWD Chairman, introduced Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, who was the event’s guest speaker. The presentation continued with recognition of TVFWD staff and sponsors given by Cecil Knott, Operations Supervisor, and Alex Lopresto, TVFWD Legal Advisor. TVFWD Executive Director Donald Sagrera ended the ceremony with closing remarks.
Plants of the wetlands are generally known to be highly dependent upon specific conditions, such as salinity, proximity to water, and vegetation type.
While some plants are able to adapt to condition alterations, other species do not overcome change as well. However, a major threat to all wetland vegetation is hydrilla.
Hydrilla is a non-native, invasive aquatic plant that has staked its claim by out-competing native plants and obstructing waterways. Hydrilla is a submerged, perennial plant that prefers freshwater, but can tolerate up to 7% salinity. This aggressive plant is known for clogging waterways, impeding natural flow, affecting human use such as fishing and seafood harvest, and clogging intakes and municipal drinking water supplies. Hydrilla can take over an area quickly as a result of its ability to multiply rapidly using four different strategies. Regrowth of stem fragments containing at least one node into a new plant, tubers on rhizomes producing new tubers, leaf turions that settle into sediment and form a new plant, and seed dispersal are all methods of reproduction for hydrilla. Hydrilla can out-compete native plants by its ability to tolerate low and high nutrient conditions in addition to growing in low light environments. Hydrilla is also successful in out-competing other plants by growing at a rate of one inch per day until reaching the water’s surface, followed by branching out to form a mat of vegetation which blocks light to other plants.
In order to control the growth of hydrilla, salvinia weevils have been released into severely affected areas. The salvinia weevil lives exclusively on hydrilla as a food source, thus reducing growth rates to allow control of the plant. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act is currently researching the best, most beneficial method of controlling and eradicating invasive plant species.
Did you know:
CWPPRA has protected, created, or restored approximately 96,806 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act has funded coastal restoration projects for 26 years. Presently, CWPPRA has 153 total active projects, 108 completed projects, 17 active construction projects, 23 projects currently in Engineering and Design and has enhanced more than 355,647 acres of wetlands . These projects provide for the long-term conservation of wetlands and dependent fish and wildlife populations. Projects funded by CWPPRA are cost-effective ways of restoring, protecting, and enhancing coastal wetlands. CWPPRA has a proven track record of superior coastal restoration science and monitoring technique in Louisiana. The success of the CWPPRA program has been essential in providing critical ecosystem stabilization along Louisiana’s coast and has provided pioneering solutions for land loss.
Visit CWPPRA’s website for more information!
The Bayou Vermilion Preservation Association (BVPA) is an organization which creates awareness of our natural environment by providing education and outreach to the general community about ways to conserve, protect and enjoy the Bayou Vermilion Watershed. The BVPA hosts an annual festival to commemorate and celebrate the Vermilion River as a cherished working river which contributes to Lafayette and Vermilion parish by confluences of small bayous in St. Mary and St. Landry parish. The theme of BVPA’s 3rd Annual Water Weekend on the Vermilion was “Backyard to the Bayou” which included a visionary water symposium directed toward understanding your role as the general public in the preservation of the river.
This year, the BVPA worked toward answering the question on many resident’s minds-How can we best inform and involve the community in preserving the bayou? In an attempt to answer this question, the water symposium discussed opportunities and threats for the Bayou Vermilion by presenting a series of distinguished speakers. Speakers include Peter Mayeux, owner of All Seasons Nursery and Landscaping, who spoke on ideas for best management practices on an individual’s property, followed by Rusty Ruckstuhl, landscape architect with Grassroots Landscaping, who discussed ideas and concepts of homeowner water management irrigation and drainage. Michael Cullen, landscape architect with Land Architecture, LLC.; Pamela Gonzales Grainger, landscape engineer with Macbad Engineers; as well as Jeff Foshee and Teddy Beaullieu, Southern Lifestyle Development, each discussed relevant topics of their field for considerations toward sustainable community development. John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and Brad Klamer, New Orleans Sewage and Water Board, each gave insight into current successful projects in their respective regions, followed by Donald Sagrera, Teche-Vermilion Water District; David Cheramie, Bayou Vermilion District; and Bess Foret, Lafayette Consolidated Government, who discussed management of the bayou. The 3rd annual visionary water symposium closed with a panel discussion including Bess Foret, Michael Cullen, Pamela Gonzales Grainger, and Daniel Didier, where views were exchanged on how to involve the community in preserving the Bayou Vermilion.
The Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act’s Public Outreach staff attended the symposium and distributed various informational publications to symposium attendees.
Can you tell the difference between a male and female blue crab?
Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina all share the title of largest blue crab fisheries in the world; Louisiana accounts for over half of all commercial harvest landings in the Gulf of Mexico. While the commercial harvest of the blue crab continues to rise, recreational crabbing popularity is also on a steady climb. Why? Blue crabs spend the majority of their late juvenile and adulthood in estuaries which are often closely located to an accessible shoreline, making blue crabs a delicious challenge to catch. Whether the blue crab is caught commercially or by recreation, there are two distinct methods to sex a blue crab.
Located on the underside of the crab’s carapace is the abdomen which forms a different shape depending upon the gender of the crab. Females have a broad and rounded abdomen while the male abdomen resembles a narrow t-shape. Another distinguishable characteristic are the red tips of the female’s claws. The blue crab is one of the many aquatic species that rely heavily upon the safety and health of wetlands for survival.
Did you know:
Freshwater habitats make up only 1% of the planet’s surface but are host to 1/3 of all known vertebrates and nearly 10% of all known animal species.
Usually located in close proximity to an intermediate marsh, freshwater marshes commonly occur adjacent to coastal bays. Freshwater marshes are of the most productive freshwater habitats and are essential to the survival of many wildlife populations ranging from important nursery needs to supporting large numbers of wintering waterfowl. Freshwater marshes have the greatest plant diversity and highest organic matter content of any marsh type. The heavy demand for freshwater has become outweighed by its availability due to salt water intrusion. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act aims to restore the natural conditions of water quality by implementing hydrologic restoration projects to combat saltwater intrusion.
Wetlands are natural ecosystems that provide an abundance of wealth to not only it’s inhabitants, but also to surrounding communities. Wetlands provide benefits ranging from water filtration to storm surge protection; however, wetlands have become vulnerable to invasive species. Invasive species are plants, animals, or pathogens that are non-native to the ecosystem and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause damage. Known as major contributors to wetland and coastal habitat loss, invasive species also threaten native species, as well as endangered species who rely exclusively on the wetlands for survival.
The foreign animals that have been recognized as invasive to coastal wetlands include Asian carp, wild boar, island applesnails, and nutria. The invasive plant species include Chinese tallow, common reed, and purple loosestrife. Invasive animal and plant species have altered the health of wetlands in some way; CWPPRA strives to protect the wetlands by constructing methods to diminish the invasive threat and restore native species dominance and health within the wetlands.
Did you know:
Louisiana ranks 18th in species diversity within the United States with 3,495 species.
Species diversity includes the number of different native species in a community—also known as species richness—and the abundance of the species, referred to as species evenness. Species diversity gives a general measure of biological wealth to a given community. Louisiana harbors much of its diversity along the coast from prairies, swamps, marshes, and barrier islands. Many of our nation’s industries rely on the functionality of and species that reside within the wetlands. Furthermore, the wetlands of Louisiana are critical to protected species of lesser abundance, such as the whooping crane, piping plover, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, and our nation’s symbol—the bald eagle.
Louisiana’s coastal landscape is known to contain vast beauty and uniqueness commonly seen through native Louisiana species, one being the Louisiana iris. Five of the many Louisiana native iris species gained the title of “Louisianans” due to Louisiana being the only location where they all occur together, with ranges along the Gulf Coast from Mississippi to Texas. The five “Louisianans” include: Iris brevicaulis, Iris fulva, Iris giganticaerulea, Iris hexagona and Iris nelsonii. The Louisiana iris is designated as the state wildflower.
The beautiful “Louisianans” can be found flourishing in damp or wet regions of freshwater and are commonly found in swamps, bogs, or on the banks of roadside ditches. Having little salt tolerance, the Louisiana iris is at risk of salt intrusion into its freshwater habitats. In order to protect the natural vegetation of our wetlands, CWPPRA is working to protect our coast by restoring the appropriate hydrology and salinity of affected regions.
Did you know:
Wetlands provide a critical nursery for many of the Gulf of Mexico commercial fishery species.
One of the most significant fishery industries in the lower 48 states is the Gulf Coast fishery. Louisiana wetlands, particularly coastal marshes, play an imperative role in the life cycle of about 90% of Gulf marine species such as oysters, blue crabs, and shrimp. Providing a protective nursery, wetlands house an immensely diverse quantity of species that rely upon this habitat such as blue crabs, menhaden, and redfish. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act aims to continue the protection and restoration, and health of these essential habitats for wildlife, aquaculture, and fisheries.