Mangroves in Winter

The recent cold weather in Louisiana may have been the end of the road for some plants as temperatures dipped into the teens and stayed below freezing for full days. The hibiscus in your garden may have survived because you gave it extra insulation, but what about marsh plants? Louisiana salt marshes are home to black mangroves (Avicennia germinans), but this represents the very northernmost part of their range. Of the three mangrove species found in the continental United States [red (Rhizophora mangle), black, and white (Laguncularia racemosa)], black mangroves are the most cold-hardy, but they are still sensitive to winter weather- they generally cannot establish above 28° N and S latitude because winters are too cold (a sliver of the Birdsfoot Delta is below 29° N, so we really are at their limit).

The three mangrove species are also different in their tolerances for other environmental conditions: red mangroves establish in the intertidal zone, while black and white mangroves are found at higher elevations, and white mangroves can colonize areas with little to no soil. In Florida where all three species occur, mangrove zones can be defined from the water extending inland and up in elevation .

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Red mangroves are found in the intertidal zone, while black and white mangroves establish at higher elevations. Graphic from the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida (https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/southflorida/habitats/mangroves/zonation/)

Black mangroves are an important component of Louisiana salt marshes, providing habitat to a variety of species. The complex root systems trap and collect sediment, limiting erosion and maintaining land. Juvenile invertebrates and fish find shelter among the roots, while seabird chicks, such as brown pelicans and roseate spoonbills, are protected from high water events and predators up in the branches.

CWPPRA projects that nourish barrier islands and create new marsh habitat help maintain black mangrove populations by providing new land for the plants to colonize; in turn, the mangroves help the new land persist in the face of wind and wave energy.

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CWPPRA Project Selection

          The planning process leading up to project selection includes the nomination of a project followed by development and evaluation of proposed projects based on engineering, environmental improvements, and economics.

          A general breakdown of CWPPRA Project Selection is as follows:

  • CWPPRA projects are brought to the Task Force by the public, local municipalities, state agencies, and federal partners.
  • In January and February, each year 10-20 projects from each of the four regions become Priority Project List (PPL) candidates.
  • Parish representatives then rank projects in each region, and by the end of the spring the Technical Committee selects 10 projects from the annual PPL candidate projects for further development.
  • Of these 10 candidate projects, the Technical Committee recommends 4 projects for the design phase (Phase I) at their December meeting.
  • The Task Force must approve the 4 projects for design at their next meeting in January.
  • Projects already in design can request approval to proceed to Phase II for construction, and the Technical Committee will recommend 1-4 of these to the Task Force. Ultimately, the Task Force approves 1-4 of the recommended projects for construction.
  • Following the Technical Committee’s meeting and PPL recommendations in December, the Task Force will meet to finalize the approved projects. This year’s Task Force meeting is scheduled for January 25th. 

          Stay up-to-date on the project selection for this year’s Priority Project List by visiting our website. You can read more about CWPPRA Project Selection in Understanding CWPPRA.

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East Leeville Marsh Creation and Nourishment

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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.
The wetland loss rate for is -1.53%/year based on USGS data
from 1984 to 2015. Furthermore, the limits of Southwestern
Louisiana Canal are difficult to determine in some areas
because land loss is causing the coalescence of the canal
with adjacent water bodies. Natural tidal flow and drainage
patterns which once existed are currently circumvented by
the increasing area of open water. Data suggests that from
1932 to 1990, the basin lost over 245,000 acres of marsh, and
from 1978 to 1990, Barataria Basin experienced the highest
rate of wetland loss along the entire coast.

The project goal is to create approximately 358 acres and
nourish 124 acres of saline marsh east of Leeville.
After consideration of three potential alternatives, features
and an alignment were selected to establish an arc of
wetlands along the north side of Southwestern Canal,
Lake Jesse, and the west side of South Lake. This is to
begin rebuilding the structural framework of wetlands
east of Leeville and provide protection for Leeville from
southeasterly winds and tides. A robust engineering and
design cost was included for full flexibility during Phase 1
to expand the project if cost allows or to assess alternative
configurations, if necessary. The proposed features consist of
hydraulically mining sediment from a borrow source in Little
Lake west of Leeville and pumping dredged material to
create and nourish marsh east of Leeville. The disposal areas
would be fully contained during construction and gapped
no later than three years post construction to facilitate
establishment of tidal connection and function. Additionally,
a portion of the created marsh acres would be planted with
smooth cordgrass following construction to help stabilize the
created platform by increasing the rate of colonization.

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This project is located in Region 2, Barataria Basin, Lafourche Parish (primary)
Region 3, Terrebonne Basin, Lafourche Parish.

This project was approved for Phase I Engineering and
Design in January 2016.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 25.

The East Leeville Marsh Creation and Nourishment’s sponsors include:

Learning about Wetlands and Dining on Invasive Species

On November 18th, residents and visitors in St. Bernard Parish were treated to live music, cooking demonstrations, and the chance to sample wild boar recipes prepared by teams vying for bragging rights. Hosted by the Coastal Division of St. Bernard Parish, the first Cook-Off for the Coast was held at Docville Farm in Violet, Louisiana with proceeds benefiting the St. Bernard Wetlands Foundation. In addition to evaluating the food of the six competing teams, visitors watched local celebrity chefs prepare everything from gumbo to snapping turtle and talked with a range of coastal organizations about the importance of protecting southeast Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.

Sinead Borchert and Mirka Zapletal from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Outreach Office were in attendance with information about restoration projects in St. Bernard Parish, activity books, posters from the #ProtectOurCoast series, and recent issues of WaterMarks magazine. They also invited children and adults alike to match Louisiana wildlife with the correct wetland habitat. St. Bernard’s coast is vulnerable to storms, subsidence, erosion, and invasive species, putting wildlife habitat and coastal communities at risk. CWPPRA projects work to support Louisiana’s coastal wetlands and the people and wildlife that depend on these habitats.

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Non-Rock Alternative to Shoreline Protection Demonstration

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Several shoreline areas within coastal Louisiana consist
of unstable soil conditions, subsurface obstructions,
accessibility problems, etc., which severely limit the
alternatives of shoreline protection. The adopted standard
across the state, where conditions allow, is the use of rock
aggregate in either a revetment or foreshore installation. The
major advantages of using rock are durability, longevity,
and effectiveness. However, in areas where rock is not
conducive for use and site limitations exist, current “proven”
alternatives that provide equivalent advantages are limited.

Several “new” concepts of providing shoreline protection
have surfaced in the last couple of years. These concepts
however, have not been researched or installed due mainly
to budget limitations or the apprehension of industry,
landowners, and others to “try” an unproven product. The
intent of this demonstration project is to provide a funding
mechanism to research, install, and monitor various shoreline
protection alternatives in an area(s) of the state where
physical, logistical and environmental limitations preclude
the use of current adopted methods.

 

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The project is applicable statewide.

This demonstration project is currently in the planning
phase. A solicitation package is being prepared.

This project is on Project Priority List (PPL) 18.

The Non-Rock Alternative to Shoreline Protection Demonstration sponsors include:

Keep up with this project and other CWPPRA projects on the project page.

School’s in Session

Are you interested in learning more about coastal restoration in Louisiana? Perhaps, you are looking for a fun, easy way to educate on coastal restoration topics. Either way, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act has the tools for you. Visit our website to find a wetland curriculum for teachers, activity books for children, printed materials, interactive games, quizzes and more.

Click the links below to join in on the fun!

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Waterfowl of the Wetlands

One of the best known and most recognizable functions of wetlands is to provide a habitat for birds and other species. While visiting a wetland, you are likely to see a range of waterfowl activity. The value wetlands provide to a bird species greatly depends on water availability, depth, and quality; the availability of food and shelter; and the presence of predators. The presence of surface water and the duration and timing of flooding attracts different bird species.

The state of Louisiana lies in the Mississippi Flyway, a migratory bird route that generally follows the Mississippi River. This migration corridor is the greatest and most heavily-used in North America. Providing habitat to more than 5 million migratory waterfowl, Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are of great importance to these birds and the people who enjoy observing and hunting them. It is vital to waterfowl that we protect and restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands to continue providing a healthy habitat for birds that are migrating. If we continue to lose these precious wetlands, Louisiana will lose its iconic role as “Sportsman’s Paradise” and waterfowl populations will suffer.

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