On September 29, CWPPRA Outreach visited with local Girl Scouts at their big event; the B.I.G. (Believe In G.I.R.L.) Event, hosted by Girl Scouts Louisiana East. Hundreds of scout groups walked the grounds of the University of New Orleans, bouncing from activity to activity. The aim of the event was to introduce girls to STEM, life skills, the outdoors, and other potential interests. Participants could learn about trade schools, non-Newtonian fluids (oobleck), and even get on a Coast Guard helicopter. Our table was constantly bustling despite being at the corner of the event. Our activity books, #ProtectOurCoast posters, and stickers were flying off the table. Our Wetland Jeopardy game was also a big hit, with teams playing cooperatively or with head-on competition between scouts. Nearby, the UNO Environmental Science department had a table set up to demonstrate how wetlands attenuate storm surge and form our first line of defense, the Master Naturalists of New Orleans brought some fascinating insects and a diamondback terrapin, and the Great Coastalini from CPRA (Chuck Perrodin) revealed the Louisiana coastline’s disappearing act.
In 2005, the marshes in the North Shore Mapping Unit sustained severe damage due to Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds of acres of emergent marsh within this mapping unit were lost, resulting in hundreds of acres of shallow open water and scour ponds averaging about 2 ft deep. USGS calculated a 1984 to 2016 area loss rate of -0.91 % per year. Currently there is one area along the shoreline that looks as if a breach is forming. This area also has a small pond immediately behind the critical shoreline. If there were a breach in this area it would allow direct connection between the fresher interior marshes and higher salinity waters of Lake Pontchartrain.
The overall goal of this project is to restore marshes that were lost and/or damaged due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Restoring the marshes should reduce salinity effects on interior emergent marshes.
The proposed features of this project consist of filling approximately 384 acres of shallow open water and nourishing an additional 65 acres of fragmented and/or low marsh with material hydraulically dredged from Lake Pontchartrain. Target settled marsh elevation would be +1.2 NAVD 88, but will ultimately correspond to surrounding healthy marsh.
Progress to Date:
This project was approved for Phase I Engineering and Design on February 9th, 2018.
This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 27.
The Louisiana Coastal Master Plan strategically plans restoration and risk reduction projects for the current and future Louisiana coast. This state-wide plan is updated every 6-years and focuses on a 50-year view which “coordinates Louisiana’s local, state, and federal responses to land loss, and potential threats from hurricanes and storm surge events” . The Master Plan was developed by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and models scientific data through different scenarios to determine which projects have priority. CPRA represents the State of Louisiana and contributes 15% of costs for Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) projects. Since all CWPPRA projects are partially funded by the state of Louisiana, then all CWPPRA projects must be consistent with the Coastal Master Plan.
The Louisiana Coastal Master Plan is an example for communities around the world who are facing coastal land loss at home. For example there is a recent partnership agreement between the Dutch research institute Deltares and the Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge. Therefore both institutions can benefit and contribute to the planning being done to preserve Louisiana coastal wetlands. Other areas facing coastal land loss, like Singapore, Indonesia, and Canada also have an interest in the work being done in Louisiana and the Netherlands . By working together, communities in Louisiana and elsewhere can adapt to and protect changing coasts.
Click here to learn more about Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan.
Click here to learn about your flood zone in Louisiana.
 Roberts, Faimon. Louisiana institute, Dutch research group launch partnership to study water issues. Available: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/environment/article_35247102-635a-11e7-9176-9f60e4fab282.html [July 31, 2018].
* Problems: New Cut was first formed in 1974 when the eastern end of Trinity Island was breached during Hurricane Carmen. This breach was further widened by Hurricane Juan in 1985 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. — The Isles Dernieres shoreline is one of the most rapidly deteriorating barrier shorelines in the U.S., exhibiting a pattern of fragmentation and disintegration. — With regard to long shore sediment transport systems or the movement of beach material by waves and currents, the islands have ultimately become sources of sediment themselves leading to an ever-decreasing volume of sediment.
* Restoration Strategy: The purpose of this project was to close the breach between Trinity and East Islands through the direct creation of beach, dune, and marsh habitat. This project also lengthened the structural integrity of eastern Isles Dernieres by restoring the littoral drift by adding sediment into the nearshore system (restoring about 8,000 linear feet of barrier island).
* Location: New Cut is the breach between East and Trinity Islands in the Isles Dernieres barrier island chain. The cut is bordered on the north by Lake Pelto, on the west by Trinity Island, on the east by East Island and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico, in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
* Progress to Date: A rock dike and approximately 2 million cubic yards of dredged material reconstructed a dune and marsh platform to protect the shoreline from erosion and to restore interior marsh lost from subsidence and saltwater intrusion.
Phase 2 (construction) funding was initially approved at the January 2001 Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force meeting and additional funds allocated in 2006 to account for change in borrow site and post-hurricane increased construction costs. Dredging was completed July 2007. About 8,000 linear feet of barrier island was restored by placing approximately 850,000 cubic yards of material. New Cut was closed through the construction of a dune platform matching the dune elevations on the east and west, strengthening the connection between East and Trinity Islands. Nine species of native barrier island vegetation were planted along with over 17,000 linear feet of sand fencing. No maintenance is anticipated over the 20-year design life.
* This Project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 9.
From July 16th-18th, the CWPPRA Public Outreach Team and special guests helped educate children about wetland resources during the inaugural Project Front Yard STEM summer camp at Girard Park in Lafayette, LA. Project Front Yard is an organization within Lafayette Consolidated Government that seeks to educate the public towards a more sustainable future. Our activities this week covered wetland plants, endangered species, and birding with groups split by age: 5-8, 9-10, and 11-14 years old.
On the first day, our team demonstrated how wetland plants transport gases through their tissues with the help of Carrie Salyers of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Using plastic cups, straws, and a tray of water, campers had to get air into and out of the “leaves” (cups) and the “roots” (straws) while they were inundated. We also brought our Wetland Jeopardy board to test campers’ knowledge of Louisiana’s wetland flora, fauna, and benefits.
Tuesday morning, the children walked into their meeting room to a toothy surprise. Gabe Giffin from LDWF brought several young alligators from Rockefeller NWR for the campers to hold and examine. In another room, Carrie Salyers taught the campers about the biology of endangered whooping cranes. After discussing how Whooping Cranes use their beaks to catch food, Salyers, her CWPPRA helpers, and ULL’s Sam Hauser led an activity exploring how bird beak shapes are suited to eating different types of foods.
For our last day with the camp, Jessica Schulz, an ornithologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, brought a mist net to demonstrate how birds are captured and processed in the field. We set up outside in Girard Park and allowed the children to retrieve fake birds from the mist net, band their legs, and record some measurements to measure the health of the birds. While we were setting up, we accidentally caught a real house sparrow! The bird was released quickly and campers were able to see firsthand how effective mist nets can be!
Neither time nor sediment should go to waste! CWPPRA and our partners believe that beneficial use of dredged material in projects is an important part of coastal wetlands restoration.
Beneficial use, in simple terms, is the act of using dredged materials to fortify our barrier islands, build marsh platforms, or nourish the coastline instead of disposing it into places that will not benefit from it. Dredging is necessary to keep important transportation channels open for commercial ships and recreational boating. When dredging a canal, sediment is often dumped in holding facilities or off the continental shelf because of the low price tag. Borrowing sediment from otherwise untouched and stable areas is not necessary when dredging already makes viable material readily available. 
Many CWPPRA projects that are approved for construction have implemented beneficial use of sediment. For example:
BA-39 Mississippi River Sediment Delivery – Bayou Dupont
MR-08 Beneficial Use of Hopper Dredged Material Demonstration
AT-02 Atchafalaya Sediment Delivery
TE-44 North Lake Mechant Landbridge Restoration
CS-28 Sabine Refuge Marsh Creation (Cycle II and onwards)
And many more!
Of course, some areas will not be in close enough proximity to a channel with reliable dredging, but we want to maximize beneficial use when and where possible. For CS-28-2, our partners installed a permanent dredged material pipeline to further decrease damage to coastal wetlands that temporary pipelines can cause. The permanent pipeline ensures that whenever the Calcasieu River Ship Channel needs dredging, the dredged material goes to restoring wetlands with as little detrimental influence as possible.
Sediment is a valuable resource for coastal Louisiana, and the need for sediment across the coast means that we can’t afford to waste any. CWPPRA projects strive to use sediment from as many sources as possible so that more projects have the material they need- with some creativity, a little sediment can go a long way.
Coastal Louisiana boasts an impressive number of state parks that span a variety of ecosystems. Many of the parks contain salt or fresh wetlands, and each is unique; cypress-willow-tupelo swamps, pine forests, cordgrass marshes, and grass-dominated prairie, to name a few. Tourists are very fortunate to have so many different choices when planning their trips. For example, hiking and camping in a bottomland hardwood forest can be found at Chicot State Park, beaches and boating can be done at Grand Isle State Park, and a mix of fresh and salt water fishing can be found in Bayou Segnette State Park. Many of these parks offer a birding guide to help with identifying migratory songbirds, wading birds, and many others. A complete list of Louisiana State Parks can be found at https://www.crt.state.la.us/louisiana-state-parks/parks/index.
As impressive as the state parks may be, they are not the only parks in Louisiana. Louisiana is home to 23 National Wildlife Refuges, 8 National Parks, and 1 National Forest, among other attractions. CWPPRA has several projects within national refuges that have helped to maintain the appeal of our natural splendor to visitors. Through hydrologic restoration which helps freshwater move into coastal areas, marsh creation to increase existing land, and shoreline protection to combat erosion, we hope to preserve the areas like Cameron Prairie NWR, Big Branch Marsh NWR, and Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge in a way that they can be enjoyed for many years to come. With such vibrant ecosystems, it is no wonder .
According to USGS-land loss analysis, much of the southern and western shorelines of Lake Lery and the surrounding wetlands were heavily damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. In the years following this storm, wind induced waves within the lake have begun to cause further damage to the lake’s shorelines. Currently the shorelines have become so damaged that the interior emergent marshes that are still intact are being exposed to the damaging waves. This has caused an increased loss of emergent marsh habitat. Even with the benefits of the Caernarvon Diversion Structure, without some type of restoration in this area, these marshes may not be able to fully recover.
This is a marsh creation and shoreline restoration project. The marsh creation aspect of the project will have a hydraulic dredge extract material from the Lake Lery water bottom and pump that material into contained marsh creation cells located south and west of the southern and western Lake Lery shorelines. This will create and/or nourish approximately 642 acres of intertidal intermediate marsh. The shoreline restoration component of the project will have a barge-mounted dragline excavating material from the bottom of Lake Lery and placing that material along the southern and western shorelines. This restored shoreline will have a 50 foot crown width and be built to a height considered high intertidal marsh.
Progress to Date:
This project received Phase II funding in January 2012. Construction began in the spring of 2015 and is expected to be complete in the summer of 2018. All marsh creation is complete. Earthwork and vegetative plantings associated with the lake rim embankments are complete. There are ongoing discussions regarding erosion concerns along lake rim embankments.
Construction of navigation canals along the northeast shoreline of a Marsh Island.
Deterioration of the north rim of Lake Sand and the interior marshes.
Stabilizes the northeastern shoreline of Marsh Island.
Stabilizing the northern shoreline of Lake Sand.
Help restore the historic hydrology.
Construction of 7 closures for oil and gas canals at the northeast end of Marsh Island.
Protect the northeast shoreline with rock including the isolation of Lake Sand from Vermilion Bay.
This project is located in Iberia Parish, Louisiana, on the eastern portion of the Russell Sage Foundation Marsh Island State Wildlife Refuge and surrounding Lake Sand.
Project Effectiveness :
Effective at reducing water level variability within the northern portion of the project area
Water level variability did not increase in the project area as is did in R1 post-construction
Reducing erosion rates at the northeast shoreline was partially met
Reduced erosion in areas of applied rock dikes versus unprotected areas.
The steel sheet pile, rock rip-rap wingwall, and stone bank paving installed at each end of closure No. 5 proved to be successful in preventing erosion during a storm event.
Previous Progress :
The monitoring plan was finalized in January 2000 following with further data collection.
Pre-construction and post-construction aerial photography were in the year 2000, and 2009 with future imagery analyses upcoming.
Water level, submerged aquatic vegetation and shoreline position and movement data were also collected to evaluate project effectiveness.
Progress to Date :
Construction was completed in December 2001.
This is one of the three projects nearing the end of their 20 year lives.
The Task Force will vote on the Technical Committee’s recommendation on the path forward for the following projects :
This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 6.
Project Sponsors Include:
 Mouledous, M. and Broussard, D. 2014. 2014 Operations, Maintenance, and Monitoring Report for Marsh Island Hydrologic Restoration. Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA). Available:https://lacoast.gov/ocmc/MailContent.aspx?ID=10092 [May 22,2018].
Water flows downhill naturally and, over time, will make a river change from one path to another. As sediment moved and elevations changed over the last 7 millennia, the Mississippi River has emptied into several historic delta complexes: Maringouin, Teche, St. Bernard, Lafourche, Plaquemines-Balize, and Atchafalaya. Each of the deltas built up part of Louisiana’s coast to what we see today, but now that natural process has been interrupted . After the great Mississippi flood of 1927 that caused $1 billion worth of damages (almost $1 trillion in today’s dollars), the US Army Corps of Engineers built the world’s longest levee system under the Flood Control Act of 1928. The Levee system was constructed to reduce flood damages and allow for more control of the Mississippi .
Image 1: Historic Deltas of the Mississippi River
An unforeseen and unfavorable side effect to taming the river was that all the water is kept moving too quickly to deposit sediment, and now sediment is lost to the Gulf of Mexico rather than deposited into our coastal wetlands . Our Louisiana coastline is dependent on new sediment to nourish wetland ecosystems. Without sediment delivery, there is no material for natural land gain or replenishment, which will continue to contribute to our retreating coastline. The solution is not as simple as removing the levee system, however, since so much of Louisiana is populated now, and removing the levees containing the Mississippi would displace millions of residents from their homes. Instead, CWPPRA and our partners in restoration use man-made systems to create marsh, nourish wetlands, and maintain hydrologic connectivity so that we can protect and restore Louisiana’s coast.