Construction of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Boston Canal, and oilfield canals has greatly increased tidal exchange between Vermilion Bay and the adjacent marshlands to the north, particularly near their confluence with Vermilion Bay. This tidal exchange, combined with the effects of wave action from the bay and boat wake from traffic on the canal, has contributed to significant shoreline erosion along the Vermilion Bay shoreline. This same set of problems has also caused shoreline erosion along Boston Canal, particularly near its confluence with Vermilion Bay.
Rock dikes configured as sediment traps were constructed along the shoreline at the mouth of Boston Canal to promote sediment deposition and protect the shoreline and adjacent wetlands from continued wave-induced erosion. Vegetation was planted along 14 miles of the Vermilion Bay shoreline to act as a wave buffer and decrease shoreline erosion rates.
The project encompasses 466 acres of brackish marsh along approximately 16 miles of Vermilion Bay’s northern shoreline adjacent to Boston Canal. Running from the Oaks Canal to Mud Point, the project is located roughly 6 miles southeast of Intracoastal City, Louisiana, in Vermilion Parish.
Following the construction of the rock dikes, as much as 4.5 feet of sediment has vertically accreted in the lee, or windsheltered regions, of the structures. The dikes and vegetative plantings have increased vegetation cover, resulting in 57
acres of land growth. The shoreline has been stabilized at the mouth of Boston
The survivorship and vegetation cover percentage along the shoreline were more pronounced in areas where native vegetation did not exist. Survivorship and percent cover were least pronounced when marshhay cordgrass (Spartina patens) was planted in established stands of roseau cane (Phragmites australis). Overall survivorship of planted smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) was over 90% after 12 months. Current coverage is nearing 100%. The 2005 OM&M Report concluded the sediment build-up behind the dike on the east and west sides is continuing and vegetation has taken over the exposed mud flats. Elevation data show an increase in sedimentation behind the rock breakwater.
This project is on Priority Project List 2.
Federal Sponsor: NRCS
Local Sponsor: CPRA
The project area is experiencing marsh deterioration due to subsidence, rapid tidal exchange, and human-induced hydrologic changes that result in increased salinities. Saltwater intrusion has caused a shift in marsh type and a conversion of over 30 percent of emergent vegetation to open water habitat. Shoreline erosion along the south embankment of Lake De Cade threatens to breach the hydrologic barrier between the lake and interior marshes.
Proposed project components include installing three control structures along the south rim of the lake and enlarging Lapeyrouse Canal to allow the controlled diversion of Atchafalaya River water, nutrients, and sediments south into project area marshes. Outfall management structures are planned in the marsh interior to provide better distribution of river water. In addition, approximately 1.6 miles of foreshore rock dike is planned to protect the critical areas of the south lake shoreline from breaching.
The project is located in Terrebonne Parish, approximately 15 miles southwest of Houma, Louisiana.
After initial engineering investigation, the project was divided into two construction units. Construction unit one consisted of the shoreline protection only and was completed in July 2011. Construction unit two consisting of the freshwater introduction component was further investigated and due to uncertainty of benefits was not constructed, and therefore, the project is considered completed.
This project is on Priority Project List 9.
The Federal Sponsor is NRCS
The Local Sponsor is CPRA
The management levee between the GIWW and the
Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge was in danger
of breaching as a result of erosion from boat traffic in the
GIWW. If breaching had occurred, wave energy from the
GIWW and salt water would have entered the organic,
A 13,200-foot rock breakwater was constructed 50 feet
from the northern bank of the GIWW to prevent waves
caused by boat traffic from overtopping and eroding the
remaining spoil bank.
The project’s effectiveness is being evaluated by shoreline
movement surveys and by comparing pre-construction and
post-construction aerial photographs for changes in marsh
This project is located in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, on
the north shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
(GIWW), approximately 7 miles southeast of Sweet Lake
and to the east of Louisiana Highway 27 at its intersection
with the GIWW. It encompasses 640 acres of fresh marsh
and open water.
During 1993-97, while the project area had a 4.9% increase in
water coverage due to management for waterfowl, the
reference area remained unchanged.
The results of shoreline monitoring indicate that the project
has protected 13,200 feet of shoreline, along with 247 acres of
marsh north of the dike. This protection is expected to accrue
throughout the life of the project for a net restoration of at
least 23 acres. Monitoring has shown that the GIWW’s
northern shoreline advanced 9.8 feet per year in the project
area while retreating at a rate of 3.0 feet per year in the
reference area, indicating that low sediment availability does
not prohibit wetland creation behind rock dikes on navigation
To date, the project has exhibited success. It is expected that
the project area will continue to accrete new wetland area
between the spoil bank and the rock dike, further
safeguarding the adjacent wetland area from encroachment by
This project is on Priority Project List 1.
The Federal Sponsor is USFWS
The Local Sponsor is CPRA
High winds and waves prevent GIWW sediments transported down the Freshwater and Schooner bayous from settling and forming the basis of vegetated marsh. This same wind and wave energy also increases shoreline erosion rates.
This project involved the construction of a series of vegetated terraces to diminish waves in Little Vermilion Bay, helping to increase sediment deposition and reduce the rate of shoreline erosion. A pattern of channels was dredged 100-feet wide and 6-feet deep to beneficially distribute sediment from the GIWW through the Freshwater and Schooner bayous. Dredged sediments were used to construct 23 earthen terraces with a combined length of 23,300 feet. After settling, the average height of the terraces was 3.5 feet above mean sea level.
The bases of the terraces were planted with 20,450 containers of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora).
The design allows commercial and recreational fisherman to access the project area, and it stimulates fishery production by creating new habitat and increasing shoreline length.
In 1998 alone (prior to the project’s completion) 40 acres of wetland habitat were created.
This project is located in the northwestern corner of Little Vermilion Bay at its intersection with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. The project area encompasses 964 acres.
Monitoring is underway and preliminary observations show that the terraces are growing in width, and bay depth between terraces is decreasing indicating marsh expansion in the project area.
This project is on Priority Project List 5.
The Federal Sponsor is NOAA NMFS
The Local Sponsor is CPRA
With coastal needs continuing to grow, we can learn from nature’s history for ways to strengthen our coastlines. While we often think about how barrier islands protect the coast from storms, coastal cheniers and forests across Louisiana are also essential in providing that protection. These coastal forests are often found on shell ridges known as cheniers.
French for “place of oaks”, cheniers act as storm barriers, prevent saltwater intrusion, and provide wildlife habitat for migratory birds and butterflies [1,3]. Cheniers along Louisiana’s coast extend from Cameron Parish in the west to Iberia Parish” . Due to their higher relief, or height above sea level, a large majority of these areas were cleared for human development uses such as highways, agriculture, and oil and gas . Louisiana originally hosted 100,000 to 500,000 acres of chenier, but today only 2,000 to 10,000 acres remain .
While these numbers can be discouraging, local and state efforts are in place to conserve live-oak (Quercus virginiana) cheniers and coastal forests.
Louisiana is fortunate to have programs and organizations like this to conserve the coast and its natural abundance. These practices along with landowner, volunteer and citizen engagement are essential to coastal restoration. You may visit CWPPRA’s website lacoast.gov to learn how you can help Louisiana’s coastal wetlands!
Do your part to conserve our environment and help Louisiana’s coast!
The lower salinity marshes are converting to shallow, open water due to elevated salinity events and subsidence. Navigation channels provide a direct route for salt water to infiltrate the marsh, disrupt the natural water circulation, and allow rapid runoff of fresh water. The larger Sabine-Neches Waterway and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) have allowed saltwater intrusion into the project area’s fresh and intermediate marshes. Elevated tidal fluctuations in these channels have led to increased water flow, which has increased the conversion of marsh to open water. Area marsh loss is also caused by wave action along Sabine Lake and interior marsh shorelines and other natural causes (i.e., subsidence).
The project features include: a rock weir in Pines Ridge Bayou; three culverts with flap gates at Bridge Bayou; a 3,000 foot-long rock rip-rap breakwater along the Sabine Lake shoreline at Willow Bayou; a weir/plug at the opening at Starks South Canal Section 16 levee; and 232,000 linear feet of vegetated earthen terraces in the vicinity of Greens Lake.
The project is located in the western portion of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge from Pool 3 to the eastern shoreline of Sabine Lake in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.
Construction was completed in October 2010.
This project is on Priority Project List 10.
The Federal Sponsor is U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Local Sponsor is CPRA
Problems: 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. Land loss data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that loss was occurring at a rate of 1.7% per year prior to construction. The natural limits of Bayou Dupont were difficult to determine in some areas because land loss was causing a merge of the bayou to adjacent water bodies. Natural tidal flow and drainage of patterns that once existed through the bayou were circumvented by the increasing area of open water.
Restoration Strategy: Project goals included: 1) creating and nourishing approximately 390 acres of marsh through sediment pipeline delivery from the Mississippi River; and 2) creating over two miles of ridge (10.5 acres of ridge habitat) along a portion of the southwestern shoreline of Bayou Dupont. Sediment from the river was hydraulically pumped to the project site to construct both the marsh and ridge features and additional material was dredged from Bayou Dupont to cover the ridge. The ridge is designed to mimic the configuration of other natural ridges within the watershed, and includes a constructed elevation conducive for the growth of native vegetation such as live oak, hackberry, and yaupon. The ridge is helping to redefine the limits of Bayou Dupont and reestablish the natural bank that once flanked the bayou and protected adjacent marshes.
Location: This project is located within the Barataria Basin in Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. The marsh creation area is located along Bayou Dupont southeast of the waterbody known as the Pen.
Progress to Date: Construction began in the Fall of 2014 in conjunction with the Mississippi River Long Distance Sediment Pipeline Project (BA-43EB) and Bayou Dupont Sediment Delivery-Marsh Creation #3 (BA-164). Construction of the Bayou Dupont (BA-48) portion was completed in fall of 2015.
This project is on Priority Project List 17.