Let’s Go Fishing

If you enjoy recreational fishing, eating fish, or just the beauty of fish, keep reading to find out more about how wetlands impact the survival of fish populations.

When wetlands are degraded or destroyed, it becomes a challenge for fish populations to survive and grow. Wetlands support fish survival through functions like food production, spawning and nursery habitat, protection from predators, and the reduction of water pollutants, to name a few. Wetland vegetation and dead plant material are constantly utilized by fish as a food source, refuge, natural filtration device, and a barrier to changing weather conditions.

toledobend-fishing

The loss of wetlands leads to reduced fish populations which affect the natural ecosystem, as well as commercial and recreational fishing. Food webs have a delicate balance, and with wetlands dissipating, you can expect a shift in fish and wildlife populations and human consumption. While fish rely on wetlands for food, humans depend on wetlands for food, too. Crawfish, shrimp, oysters, alligator, and fish are some of the tastiest wetland delicacies that humans enjoy eating.

bass fish

Are you curious as to which fish you can find in wetlands? Well, that depends entirely on the wetland type, geographic location, and its salinity. Common fish found in the Gulf Coast region are: shrimp because of the amount of wetland acres and amount of edge between wetlands and open waters; blue crab, which depend on the seagrass beds for food and refuge; and striped bass, which are a popular recreation fish. You can also find many other fish and crustaceans in Louisiana’s wetlands.

 

The Louisiana Iris

What we typically refer to as the Louisiana iris actually consists of five species native to Louisiana and surrounding regions in the Southeastern United States. Iris brevicaulis, Iris fulva, Iris giganticaerulea, Iris hexagona and Iris nelsonii are known as the Louisiana irises. These five species participate in interbreeding which results in the variety of irises we grow today.

It is suggested to plant Louisiana iris between the months of August and September when they are dormant for optimal results. However, if you prefer to pick out the colors and types of flowers, it is best to wait until the flowers are in bloom to be sure of what you are planting. Garden cultivation and hybridizing have caused Louisiana iris to bloom in shades of blue, red, yellow, pink, brown, white, purple, and more. The wide range of colors and native quality make it an attractive addition to aquatic gardens and ordinary flower beds. Louisiana irises will grow best with as much direct sunlight as possible.

Within their native habitats, irises often grow along freshwater bayous and sloughs. This wetland vegetation has little tolerance for salt water. The Louisiana iris is at risk due to dredging through wetlands leading to saltwater intrusion. CWPPRA hydrologic restoration and freshwater diversion projects help regulate salinity and restore the natural hydrology of wetlands, ultimately preserving the iris as well as other native plants and animals. Learn more about how to #ProtectOurCoast and its native species at lacoast.gov.

Terrebonne Bay Marsh Creation-Nourishment

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Emergent marshes north of Terrebonne Bay have been
eroding as fast or faster than almost any other marshes
along coastal Louisiana. As these marshes convert to
shallow open water, the tidal prism will increase which will
in turn increase the frequency and duration of tides north
of Terrebonne Bay. This increasing tidal prism is likely
to increase the future interior marsh loss rates for those
marshes directly north of Terrebonne Bay. These marshes are
important for their habitat values as well as serving to slow
the progress of highly saline waters that threaten the lower
salinity marshes north and west of Madison Bay and in the
Lake Boudreaux basin. The
continued loss of these marshes has directly contributed to
the ongoing flooding problems of many communities along
Bayou Terrebonne including the town of Montegut.

The primary goal of this project is to fill shallow open water
areas and nourish marshes north of Terrebonne Bay/Lake
Barre thereby reducing the tidal prism north of Terrebonne
Bay and
interior land loss from tidal scouring. Specific Goals: 1)
Create 365 acres of intertidal marsh in shallow open water
and nourish 299 acres of fragmented marsh within the
project area reducing
water exchange between Terrebonne Bay and interior lakes
during tidal and small storm events. 2) Reduce erosion along
16,000 ft of the northern Terrebonne Bay shoreline.

The proposed features of this project consist of filling
approximately 365 acres of shallow open water and
nourishing approximately 299 acres of very low or
fragmented marsh with material hydraulically dredged from
Terrebonne Bay/Lake Barre. Containment dikes will be
degraded/gapped within 3 years of construction to allow
for greater tidal and estuarine organism access. This project
could be one part of a phased comprehensive plan to protect
the northern shoreline of Terrebonne Bay and the interior
marshes from further erosion and reduce the tidal prism.
The project would result in approximately 353 net acres of
marsh over the 20-year project life.

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This project is located in Region 3, Terrebonne Basin,
Terrebonne Parish, along the northern shoreline of Lake
Barre/Terrebonne Bay near Bayou Terrebonne continuing
east a short distance past Bayou Chitique.

This project is on Project Priority List (PPL) 20.

The Terrebonne Bay Marsh Creation-Nourishment project sponsors include:

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

 

Benefits of Wetlands

Wetlands have long been considered an obstruction to development. Nearly a century ago, it was believed that wetlands did not provide substantial benefits to the environment and were deemed worthless. Wetlands were drained or filled to make room for further development, such as roads and homes. Today, scientists recognize the environmental benefits that wetlands provide and are encouraging us to preserve this environmental resource. Although we are still losing wetlands, our improved understanding of this dynamic ecosystem and the benefits it provides seems to be contributing to a decreasing loss of wetlands.

Wetlands are valuable in the fact that they provide water purification, flood protection, erosion control, groundwater recharge and discharge, and streamflow maintenance. Along with these benefits, wetlands provide habitat for a large percentage of threatened and endangered species, as well as fish and other wildlife. How a particular wetland functions and benefits the environment depends on its location and type. Wetlands take many forms including marshes, estuaries, bogs, lakes, coral reefs, and floodplains, just to name a few. Wetlands also provide recreational benefits, such as fishing, birding, nature photography, hiking, and kayaking. If you are feeling anxious to seek outdoor activity, look no further than the wetlands near you.

A partially filled or otherwise damaged wetland only reaches its minimal potential to provide all of these environmental benefits. If we want wetlands to continue to perform their ecological functions to the best of their ability, we have to protect them. Take action to help preserve one of the most biologically diverse but undervalued ecosystems.

 

Wetland Biome

Fun Fact:

Animal diversity in the wetland biome is greater than in any other biome type.

Wetland biomes are the perfect place for a variety of plants and animals to thrive due to the climate, food availability, and shelter provided. Amphibians and reptiles do particularly well in this environment. Some reptiles, such as turtles, need wetlands because they either live in water for much of their lives or largely rely on water for their survival. Wetlands support a variety of animals that provide plentiful food sources for reptiles. Snakes spend time around rivers and wetlands where there are food sources such as frogs and bird eggs.

 

Other species that populate the wetland biome are birds. Wetlands are an important habitat for birds that are breeding, nesting, and rearing young, and some bird species, stop to feed in wetlands along their migration route. The value of a wetland to a specific bird species is dependent upon the presence of surface water and the duration and timing of flooding, for example great egrets may nest in trees above water for protection from predators. The geographic location of a wetland also determines how and when birds will use it.

 

Alligators and crocodiles are the largest animals found in the wetland biome. The type of water found will strongly affect the types of life that survive there. When salt is present in the water, you might find shrimp and shellfish which are some of the smallest wetland animals.

Cameron-Creole Watershed Grand Bayou Marsh Creation

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Approximately 14,390 acres (32%) of the Cameron-Creole
Watershed Project (CCWP) marshes were lost to open water
from 1932 to 1990 at an average loss rate of 248 acres/year
(0.55 percent/year) due to subsidence and saltwater intrusion
from the Calcasieu Ship Channel. The
CCWP was implemented by the NRCS in 1989 to reduce
saltwater intrusion and stimulate restoration through
revegetation. Hurricanes Rita and Ike in 2005 and 2008
breached the watershed levee scouring the marsh and
allowing higher Calcasieu Lake salinities to enter the
watershed causing more land loss. The Calcasieu-Sabine
Basin lost 28 square miles (17,920 acres) (4.4%) as a result
of Hurricane Rita (Barras et al. 2006). Land loss is estimated
to be 1.33 percent/year based on USGS data from 1985 to
2009 within the extended project boundary.

Project goals include restoring and nourishing hurricane-scoured
marsh in the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife
Refuge and adjacent brackish marshes of the Calcasieu Lake
estuary. Approximately 3 million cubic yards of material
would be dredged from a borrow site proposed in Calcasieu
Lake and placed into two marsh creation areas north of
Grand Bayou to restore 609 acres and nourish approximately
7 acres of brackish marsh. The borrow site would be
designed to avoid and minimize impacts to oysters and other
sensitive aquatic habitat. Tidal creeks would be constructed
prior to placement of dredge material and retention levees
would be gapped to support estuarine fisheries access and
to achieve a functional marsh. The project would result in
approximately 534 net acres of brackish marsh over the 20-
year project life.

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This project is located in Region 4, Calcasieu-Sabine Basin,
Cameron Parish, 6 miles northeast from Cameron, LA, on
the Cameron Prairie NWR and Miami Corporation property
north of Grand Bayou.

This project is on Project Priority List (PPL) 20.

The Cameron-Creole Watershed Grand Bayou Marsh Creation sponsors include:

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

 

Oysters for Coastal Restoration

More than a seafood delicacy, oysters are an incredible natural resource. They are extremely helpful to our environment by filtering water, providing habitat, and controlling erosion. Adult oysters may filter up to two and a half gallons of water per hour, which in turn improves water quality. Oysters build reefs that provide habitat for fish, shrimp, crabs, and other aquatic animals. Oyster larvae need the hard, shell surface for settlement and growth. A special focus that has been put on oysters recently is their ability to control land erosion.

Oyster reefs have been constructed along eroding shorelines in an effort to lessen wave energy and ultimately reduce erosion. Seven of our nation’s fifteen largest shipping ports are located along the Gulf of Mexico. The wakes created by the cargo ships heighten erosion along an already disappearing coastline.

Globally, it is estimated that 85% of oyster reefs have been lost. Large-scale restoration projects can create man-made oyster reefs that duplicate many of the benefits of natural reefs. Oysters and the massive reefs provide a foundation for a healthy ecosystem. The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) founded the Oyster Shell Recycling Program in 2014. This program collects shells from New Orleans area restaurants and utilizes the shells to restore fading oyster reefs that protect Louisiana’s coastline.  A majority of shell removed from the coast is not returned back to the waters. It is vital to Louisiana’s disappearing coastline that oyster shells are brought back to help as a line of defense for coastal restoration.