National Estuaries Week

On August 3, 2017, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution designating the week of September 16th through September 23rd as National Estuaries Week.

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Over 100 million people nationwide live near estuaries and use these resources in their daily lives through agriculture, tourism, commercial fishing, power generation, and as shipping ports. Estuaries, where the river mouths meet the ocean, are where fresh and saltwater mix.  One of the most expansive and productive estuaries in the world is located in the United States at the interface of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Along with providing jobs, estuaries have one of the highest productivity rates among ecosystems in the world. Estuaries serve as habitat for fish, waterfowl, and a variety of other wildlife by providing food and shelter during migration and mating season.

Estuaries are a well-known hotspot for recreational fishing. Take part in celebrating National Estuaries Week by reeling in a big catch while helping to keep your estuary areas clean of trash and healthy for the wildlife and vegetation. Visit our friends over at the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program for a list of activities and ways you can participate in National Estuaries Week.

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LaBranche East Marsh Creation

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Dredging of access and flotation canals for the construction
of I-10 and the Illinois Central Railroad resulted in increased
salinity and altered hydrology in the area that exacerbated
the conversion of wetland vegetation into shallow open
water bodies.

The project’s primary goal is to restore marsh that has been
converted to open water. Project implementation will result
in an increase of wildlife and fisheries habitat, acreage and
diversity, along with improving water quality. In addition,
the project will provide a storm buffer protection to I-10, the
region’s primary westward hurricane evacuation route, and
complement hurricane protection measures in the area.
Project features consist of the creation of 729 acres of marsh
and the nourishment of 202 acres of existing marsh using
dedicated dredging from Lake Pontchartrain. In addition,
10,000 linear feet of tidal creeks will be created. The marsh
creation area will have a target elevation the same as average
healthy marsh for this region. Plans are to place the dredge
material in the target area with the use of low level, noncontinuous
retention dikes along the edge of the project area
allowing overtopping of material to nourish the marsh fringe.
Vegetative plantings will be utilized in the areas deemed
most critical by the project team. Successful wetland
restoration in the immediate area (PO-17) clearly
demonstrates the suitability and stability of soil and material
availability from a sustainable borrow area.

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The project features are located between Lake Pontchartrain
and I-10 in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. It is bounded on
the west by the Fall Canal and the Bayou LaBranche
Wetland Creation Project (PO-17) and the east by a pipeline
canal.

This project is on Project Priority List (PPL) 19.

The LaBranche East Marsh Creation project sponsors include:

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

 

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.

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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.

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.

 

Terrebonne Parish Coastal Day

On June 27th residents of Terrebonne Parish and other concerned citizens gathered at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center for the first Terrebonne Parish Coastal Day. This event included educational displays, restoration equipment, informative panels featuring elected officials and coastal experts, and plenty of discussion on levees, floodgates, non-structural risk reduction and restoration. Speakers such as Colonel Clancy of the Army Corp of Engineers and State Senator Norby Chabert described how Terrebonne Parish has been one of the most aggressive parishes in protecting communities and livelihoods by working diligently to get permits and funding for projects in the area. Posters on the walls displayed projects from Amelia to South Lafourche showcasing the work being done to better protect Terrebonne Parish from situations such as hurricanes and flooding. Along with CWPPRA, other exhibitors in attendance included organizations such as the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Restore or Retreat, and the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center. Special guest, Beignet the Nutria, accompanied the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center as a visual reminder of the speed at which nutria eat vegetation and the destruction that this animal can cause to coastal wetlands. Over 700 people were in attendance for this interactive showcase of coastal protection.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Public Outreach staff attended the event as exhibitors providing information and materials to educate the public on wetland and coastal restoration. Publications such as Partners in Restoration, Understanding CWPPRA, Coastal Wetlands Restoration Residents’ Guide, CWPPRA Posters, and Henri Heron’s Louisiana Wetlands were distributed in addition to editions of WaterMarks and fact sheets featuring projects within Terrebonne, Lafourche, and St. Mary Parishes.