Looking Back

Former President George H.W. Bush signed Public Law 101-646, Title III CWPPRA into law in 1990 to combat the national issue of coastal land loss. Over 25 years after he left office and a week after the late President’s day of mourning, this legislation is still providing protection to billions of dollars’ worth of industry, major human settlements, and beautiful ecosystems.

At 28 years of projects and counting, CWPPRA is among the longest-standing federally-funded restoration ventures in the country, as well as one of the most successful. To date, 210 projects have been authorized across Louisiana’s coastal zone to restore 100,000+ acres of wetlands. Each year of operation, CWPPRA has approved funding on multiple projects scattered across our coast. The locations of our projects can be found at https://lacoast.gov/new/About/Basins.aspx.

CWPPRA projects are proposed by anyone and developed in conjunction with one of our 5 federal managing agencies and Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The process of project selection is always a rigorous competition between candidate projects across Louisiana’s coast. Each proposal presents estimated ecological benefits, cost estimates, and a detailed plan for the desired project. At the beginning of each calendar year, Regional Planning Team meetings are held across the coast to hear proposals. The proposed projects are compiled into an annual Project Priority List (PPL). Upcoming proposal meetings can be found Jan 29-31, 2019 on our calendar at https://lacoast.gov/calendar/. Over the next year the CWPPRA Technical Committee and Task Force narrow the list of candidate projects. In December, the Technical Committee recommends their top 4 projects to the Task Force. The Task Force finally votes in January on the 4 projects they will fund for Phase I Engineering and Design. This annual cycle will complete its 28th round in late January 2019.

CWPPRA is excited about wrapping up PPL 28 next month and starting on PPL 29! Be on the lookout for announcements about projects chosen for funding at the January 24th Task Force meeting. We look forward to continuing our efforts to #ProtectOurCoast!

 

Featured image from https://projects.propublica.org/louisiana/

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Soil Pollution

Today is World Soils Day, time to talk about soil pollution and wetlands! Soil pollution is often referred to as “invisible” because, although pollution can be detected through testing [LINK TESTING], it is much more difficult to see with the naked eye. Some of the biggest players in soil pollution today are improper waste management, agricultural runoff, and industrial processes. You may not think you are directly impacted by soil pollution, but you are.

Polluted soil in agricultural fields is arguably the most direct impact to humans because the pollutants are taken into the crop, whether it is a plant or animal, and make it into our food stream. [1] Pollutants in soils are also less hospitable to plant recruits, which is terrible news for coastal Louisiana. Our coastal wetlands provide us with many things that we rely on, and we cannot afford to lose our wetlands to preventable pollution. When soils do not incorporate healthy plant roots, they are much more susceptible to erosion. When moving sediments around, CWPPRA wants to make sure that plants can re-establish effectively, so they want healthy soils. [2]

Areas with unsustainable levels of pollution are spreading, and non-point source pollution, which includes road and agricultural runoff, is very hard to track and very hard to remediate. Pollutants are not easily scrubbed from soils on a mass scale and so they follow the flow of water. Runoff travels through watersheds just like clean water and makes its way into our coastal wetlands with damaging consequences. Coastal wetlands are resilient ecosystems, but they have limits. We cannot overburden them with harmful, carefree attitudes towards pollution. Our coast deserves to be protected. Our coast deserves to be respected.

[1] https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/bioaccumulationbiomagnificationeffects.pdf

[2] https://www.lacoast.gov/crms/crms_public_data/publications/CRMS_FactSheet_Web.pdf

Featured image from https://soilsmatter.wordpress.com/2017/12/15/are-wetlands-really-the-earths-kidneys/

Louisiana’s Live Oak Cheniers

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” [1]. 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 [2]. Louisiana originally hosted 100,000 to 500,000 acres of chenier, but today only 2,000 to 10,000 acres remain [1].

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!

Source:
[1] Louisiana Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Date Accessed October 30, 2018. Available:http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/document/32867-coastal-live-oak-hackberry-forest/coastal_live_oak-hackberry_forest.pdf
[2] Army Corps of Engineers. Southwest Coastal Louisiana Final Integrated Draft and Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement. Date Accessed October 30, 2018. Available:http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Portals/56/docs/PD/Projects/SWCoastal/11%20Appendix%20A%20Env%20Report.pdf
[3] Baton Rouge Audubon Society. Accessed on 10/31/2018. Available:http://www.braudubon.org/peveto-woods-sanctuary.php

Black Bayou Hydrologic Restoration (CS-27)

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The purposes of the Black Bayou Hydrologic Restoration
project are to (1) restore coastal marsh habitat, and (2) slow
the conversion of wetlands to shallow, open water in the
project area. The project limits the amount of saltwater
intrusion into the surrounding marsh and canals from the
GIWW and reduces erosion caused by wave action from
nearby boats and tides.

A 22,600-foot rock dike was placed on the southern spoil
bank of the GIWW. A barge bay weir (70-foot bottom
width) was constructed in Black Bayou Cutoff Canal. Weirs
with boat bays (10-foot bottom widths) were constructed in
Burton Canal and Block’s Creek. A collapsed weir was
plugged and replaced by a fixed crest steel sheet-pile weir
with a state-of-the-art, self-regulating tidegate. Spoil
material from weir installation and the dredging of access
routes was deposited in nearby open water areas to the
height of marsh elevations. The $3 million construction
contract included installation of 55,000 marsh plants over the
next two planting seasons.

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This project, sponsored by the National Marine Fisheries
Service and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources,
is a 25,529 acre wetland located in Cameron and Calcasieu
Parishes, Louisiana. Bordered by the Gulf Intracoastal
Waterway (GIWW), Sabine Lake, Black Bayou, and Gum
Cove Ridge, the project area consists of tidally-influenced
intermediate and brackish marshes.

Construction is completed. Installation of vegetative
plantings were completed in April 2002. The monitoring
plan was finalized in March 2000, and monitoring has
begun.

This project is on Priority Project List 6.

Federal Sponsor: NOAA 

Local Sponsor: CPRA

New Cut Dune and Marsh Creation (TE-37)

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* 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).
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* 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.
* Federal Sponsor:
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  Dallas, TX
  (214) 664-6722
* Local Sponsor:
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Project Front Yard EcoSTEAM Camp

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.

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Campers use pressure through straws to put air into a submerged leaf-cup

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.

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Campers posing with an alligator hatched in 2017
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Each participant had a different utensil to attempt picking up different types of food and putting them into their “stomachs”

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!

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Carefully removing a male cardinal from the mist net
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House Sparrow that made its way into our mist net

Marsh Island Hydrologic Restoration (TV-14)

banner_tv-14.fwReasons to Restore:

  • Natural erosion
  • Subsidence
  • Construction of navigation canals along the northeast shoreline of a Marsh Island.
  • Deterioration of the north rim of Lake Sand and the interior marshes.

Restoration Strategy:

  • 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.

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[2]

Location:

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.

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Project Effectiveness [1]:

  • 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 [2]:

  • 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 [1]:

  • 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 [1]:

3 projects

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 6.

Project Sponsors Include:

                     US_AOE_Logo

 

  CPRA_logo_sponsor                

Source:

[1] 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].

[2] Marsh Island Hydrologic Restoration (TV-14) Land-Water Classification. 2009. Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA). Available: https://www.lacoast.gov/products/sab_net_pub_products/map/original/2011-02-0009.pdf [May 22, 2018].