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.

East Catfish Lake Marsh Creation and Shoreline Protection (TE-157)

Aerial view of marsh creation project in Terrebonne Parish.


The project is located in Region 3, Terrebonne Basin, Terrebonne Parish.


Significant marsh loss has occurred east and south of Catfish Lake. Causes of marsh loss include the construction of numerous oil/gas canals, subsidence, and sediment deprivation. Between Catfish Lake and Golden Meadow Hurricane Protection Levee, very little marsh remains after the construction of an extensive network of oil/gas canals. Much of the remaining land in this area consists of spoil banks and isolated patches of marsh. From examination of aerial photography, the majority of this loss occurred during the 1960s and 1970s. Based on the hypertemporal analysis conducted by USGS for the extended project boundary, the land loss rate in the project area is -0.86% per year for the period 1984 to 2019. Shoreline erosion rates (1998-2017) range from 10 ft/yr along the eastern lake shoreline to 22ft/yr along the southern lake shoreline.

Restoration Strategy

The primary goal of this project are; 1) restore marsh habitat in the open water areas east and south of Catfish Lake, and 2) restore and protect the eastern and southern Catfish Lake shoreline. The specific goals of this project are; 1) create 235 acres of marsh, 2) nourish 71 acres of marsh, 3) protect the marsh creation cells from shoreline erosion.

Service goals include restoration/protection of habitat for threatened and endangered species and other at-risk species. This project would restore habitat potentially utilized by the black rail, which is proposed for listing as a threatened species. The project could also benefit other species of concern including the saltmarsh topminnow and seaside sparrow.

Sediment from Catfish Lake will be hydraulically dredged and pumped via pipeline to create/nourish 306 acres of marsh. Dewatering and compaction of dredged sediments should produce elevations conducive to the establishment of emergent marsh and within the intertidal range. Containment dikes will be constructed around each marsh creation cell. Where practicable, material will be borrowed from perimeter oil/gas canals. Containment dikes will be gapped at the end of construction or by TY3. Approximately 2,566 linear feet of sheet pile wall will also be installed as a containment feature. Approximately 12,479 linear feet of shoreline protection (gabion mattresses) will be installed along the lakeside boundary of the marsh creation cells on the constructed containment dikes.


The project was approved for Phase I Engineering and Design in January 2020.

The project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 29.

The Federal Sponsor is US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Local Sponsor is CPRA.