Cathy Bader Mills – Louisiana Artist

Cathy’s romance with the birds of Louisiana started oh so long ago. Their personalities whether still or in motion captured her imagination. She documents her interpretations through her paintings with subtle and vibrate images and colors.

“The intimacy of small lush places and vast panoramic scenes have inspired me over the years. Observation is the key to knowing. I discovered when you know about the land and wildlife, you begin to love it. That love is what I try to share over and over again.”

Cathy gravitated to workshops in her teaching career through the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program based at Louisiana State University as well as information through the CWPPRA outreach materials. When National Geographic education made a call for teachers to be trained as Teacher Consultants, Cathy made her way to Washington, D.C. That opportunity led to a 2 ½ month trek across public lands. A website was developed that educated the public about their lands, another opportunity to love the land. The knowledge learned became a part of her work. Images of her work can be seen in her illustrations of “OH NO! Hannah’s Swamp is Changing” an education book on exotic aquatic invasive species. Her website documents the scope of her work, real and imagined. You can also check her out on Facebook!

Waterfowl of the Wetlands

Mallard Duck


Known to be one of the most easily recognizable species of waterfowl, the mallard duck is majestic, distinctive, and a wintering resident of the bayou state. The mallard is one of the most common ducks in the United States. With great variation between the two mallard genders, drake or male mallards have a bright yellow bill, prominent emerald green head, and white neck-ring, followed by a chestnut colored chest and dark colored rear. The hen or female mallards have a dark colored bill and are a mottled brown color with a dark brown stripe across the eye. Both drake and hen mallards have the characteristic violet-blue speculum with black and white borders. Mallard ducks are a migrating waterfowl species that can be found in Louisiana during winter. Among the dabbling ducks, mallards are one of the latest fall migrants with one of the most extended mallardmigration periods, lasting from late summer to early winter. During their migrant stay, mallards are found in agricultural fields, shallow marshes, oak-dominated forested wetlands, and coastal inlets with aquatic vegetation. Louisiana sits in the Mississippi Flyway, North America’s greatest and most heavily-used migration corridor. Louisiana’s coastal wetlands provide habitat for more than 5 million migratory waterfowl, approximately half of the wintering duck population of the Mississippi Flyway. Now, more than ever, restoration and protection of coastal wetlands is critical; if wetlands continue to diminish, Louisiana will no longer be known as “sportsman’s paradise”.

Ocean Commotion 2016

oc-01The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program hosted its annual educational, coastal-based event, Ocean Commotion, on October 27 at the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La. The primary purpose of Ocean Commotion is to give students the chance to learn about and touch the products of the sea and coast—the aquatic animals, plants, and minerals—upon which Louisiana’s citizens are so dependent. In attendance were 2,138 K-8 students, 121 teachers and 139 chaperons  from East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Jefferson, East Feliciana, and Assumption parishes.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act encourages the connection between students and the coast by providing the opportunity to become “hands-on” with activities that foster interests in and curiosity for Louisiana’s passive shoreline environments. Among the 70 exhibits from universities, non-profits, state and local governments, student clubs, science and museum centers and K-12 student exhibitors was the CWPPRA Mysterious Wetland Wonders activity.  Participants were encouraged to reach inside the seven mystery boxes, read clues, and try to identify the wetland item hidden inside each box without peeking! The mystery items included a seashell, apple snail shell, oyster shell, cypress knee, Spanish moss, nutria pelt, and a magnolia seed pod. In order for future generations to effectively protect our oceans, coastlines, and wetlands, learning about the importance and benefits of each is essential.

Cole’s Bayou Marsh Restoration


The Cole’s Bayou Marsh Restoration project area wetlands are undergoing loss at -0.42%/year based on 1983 to 2011 USGS data from the extended boundary. Wetland loss processes in this area include subsidence/sediment deficit, interior ponding and pond enlargement, and storm impacts resulting in rapid episodic losses.  In addition, significant interior marsh loss has resulted from salt water intrusion and hydrologic changes associated with increasing tidal influence.  As hydrology in this area has been modified, habitats have shifted to more of a floatant marsh type, resulting in increased susceptibility to tidal energy and storm damages. Habitat shifts and hydrologic stress reduce marsh productivity, a critical component of vertical accretion in wetlands.

The specific goals of this project are: 1) create 365 acres of brackish marsh in recently formed shallow open water; 2) nourish 53 acres of existing brackish marsh; and, 3) increase freshwater and sediment inflow into interior wetlands by improving project area hydrology.

This project aims to create 365 aces and nourish 53 acres of brackish marsh via dredging with borrow from nearby Vermilion Bay.  Although Vermilion Bay is not considered an “external” source of material, significant sediment inflows into this area may result in some borrow area infilling. Half of the marsh creation acres would be planted. The project will encourage additional freshwater nutrient and sediment inflow from Freshwater Bayou Canal by dredging a portion of Cole’s Bayou along with the installation of a series of culverts throughout the project area.

The culverts located along the northern project boundary are envisioned to allow the ingress of sediment, water, and fisheries organisms into the semi-impounded project area, but avoid backflow of water and potential loss of interior marsh sediment (i.e., north to south flow only). The culverts located along the southern project boundary are envisioned to allow water to drain out of the marsh.


The Cole’s Bayou Marsh Restoration project is located in Region 3, Teche/Vermilion Basin in Vermilion Parish, east of Freshwater Bayou Canal.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 21.  In January 2016, the CWPPRA Task Force approved Phase II funds for construction.

The Cole’s Bayou Marsh Restoration project’s sponsors include:

  • Federal Sponsor: National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Local Sponsor: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority


Learn more about this project (TV-63) and others on CWPPRA’s project page.




Sabine Refuge Marsh Creation Cycle III

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The Sabine Refuge Marsh Creation Cycle III project area is experiencing marsh degradation due to saltwater intrusion and freshwater loss.  This has resulted in the conversion of vegetated intermediate marsh to large shallow open water areas. Salinity migrates into the region from the Calcasieu River.  Southeast winds push saline waters into the project area through canals and bayous.  Wind driven waves cause further loss of the remaining marsh fringe.

Cycle III consists of the creation of 232 acres of marsh platform using material dredged from Calcasieu River Ship Channel.  Between February 12 and March 31, 2007, 828,767 cubic yards of dredged sediment material was placed into the Sabine Refuge Cycle III marsh creation area.  The dredged material is contained by earthen dikes.  Lower level earthen overflow weirs were constructed to assist in the dewatering of the marsh creation disposal area and to create fringe marsh with the overflow.  The dredged slurry has been placed between elevations 2.03 NAVD to 2.71 NAVD 88.

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This project is located in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, west of LA Highway 27, in large, open water areas west of Brown’s Lake in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.

The Sabine Refuge Marsh Creation Project was originally approved as part of the Project Priority List 8 in 1999.  The project was later broken into 5 cycles. In 2004, additional funds for engineering and design and construction were approved for Cycle III.  The placement of the dredged material has been completed.  Degradation of the retention dikes is ongoing and expected to be completed soon.

This project is on Priority Project List 8.

The Sabine Refuge Marsh Creation Cycle III’s sponsors include:

View more data on the CS-28 project Cycle I, Cycle II, and Cycle III or other projects on CWPPRA’s website.

Coastwide Nutria Control Program

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Prior to implementation of the Coastwide Nutria Control Program in 2002, fur trapping activity had declined drastically for over 10 years because of weak market demand and low prices.  In coastal Louisiana, this decline has resulted in overpopulation of nutria and serious damage to coastal wetlands from nutria herbivory.  Mature nutria are very prolific, leading to a high population.  Without significant annual harvest, nutria can cause significant damage to marshes and swamps in coastal Louisiana.  Annual aerial surveys from 1993 to 2001 have indicated that approximately 100,000 acres have been impacted coastwide.

This project’s objective is to significantly reduce the damage nutria herbivory causes to coastal wetlands.  The Coastwide Nutria Control Program is designed to remove about 400,000 nutria annually.  The control program consists of an incentive payment program to encourage nutria harvesting.  Nutria harvest locations are recorded in an effort to compare harvest levels and occurrence of herbivory damage.  The program is implemented by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Project Area

This project is located throughout the coastal zone of Louisiana.  The program area includes all basins and coastal parishes located south of Interstates 10 and 12.

The Coastwide Nutria Control Program was selected for Phrase 1 (engineering and design) funding at the January 2002 Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force meeting (Priority List 11).  Phase 2 (implementation) was approved during the April 2002 Task Force meeting and began in November 2002 with the 2002-03 Louisiana trapping season.  Over the first eight years of program implementation, nutria harvest has averaged 321,354 per year.  Acres damaged by herbivory has decreased from about 100,000 acres to about 8,500 acres since the program began.  The approved funding for this project is $36.7 M with a total estimated cost of $68.0 M.

This project is on Priority Project List 11.

The Coastwide Nutria Control Program’s two sponsors include:

  • Federal Sponsor: Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Local Sponsor: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

View this project and others at CWPPRA’s website