The coastal restoration community has long recognized the benefits of vegetative plantings in restoration. Many marsh creation and most terracing projects require plantings to insure success. Coastal shoreline plantings have also proven to be very effective and some have demonstrated the ability to not only stop shoreline erosion but to facilitate accretion, the process of increasing sediments. Recent hurricane events have exposed a need to have a mechanism in place where large-scale planting efforts can be deployed in a timely manner to specifically targeted areas of need, anywhere along the coast. Although the CWPPRA program can fund specific large-scale planting projects, the normal program cycle for individual projects can delay needed restoration plantings for a number of years.
The goals of this project are to facilitate a consistent and responsive planting effort in coastal Louisiana that is flexible enough to routinely plant on a large scale and be able to rapidly respond to critical areas of need following storm or other damaging events. This project set up an advisory panel consisting of representatives from various state and federal agencies who would assist in the selection of projects for funding. The project also set up a mechanism by which project nominations would be submitted for consideration. The equivalent of 90 acres of interior marsh and 40,000 linear feet of coastal shoreline will be planted per year over a 10 year period to effectively create/protect a total of 779 net acres of marsh over the 20-year project life.
The project features are located in the coastal zone of Louisiana.
This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 20.
The Coastwide Vegetative Planting project sponsors include:
Louisiana’s shorelines are eroding at a drastic pace, some at rates up to 50 feet per year. The fertile but fragile soils found in the wetlands are susceptible to wave energy. As land is lost, water bodies merge together, which can increase wave fetch and shoreline erosion. Behind these shorelines lie communities, highways, and infrastructure that are at risk of washing away.
Various techniques to defend the coastline have been tested and applied under CWPPRA. Rock revetments, oyster reefs, concrete panels, and other fabricated materials have been constructed along otherwise unstable shorelines to abate wave energy and reduce erosion. These structures are designed to break waves, and they often trap waterborne sediments behind the structures that, over time, can become new land.
Through the course of the CWPPRA program, advancements have been made in shoreline structures that have helped maintain natural processes while providing critical protection. Such advancements have included using lighter-weight materials that require less maintenance and can be constructed on organic sediments. Other advancements include low-relief structures that are designed to trap sediments and natural breakwaters such as reefs that can self-maintain and support other ecological functions. Other natural shoreline protection measures include vegetative plantings, whose roots help secure soils and can promote accretion. These projects are implemented with consideration for minimizing impacts to the surrounding environment. Although some shoreline structures may look foreign in a natural landscape, they are necessary features that physically protect communities and hold wetlands in place by mitigating the harsh forces that move to destroy them.
Invasive species (harmful non-native species) are one of the most significant drivers of global change. Consequently, they can have substantial impacts on the economy, infrastructure, and humans. Society must address invasive species as a priority, which is exactly what National Invasive Species Awareness Week intends to do. The objective of National Invasive Species Awareness Week is to bring attention to the impacts, prevention, and management of invasive species – and all those who are working toward healthy, biodiverse ecosystems.
Wetlands provide benefits ranging from water filtration to storm surge protection; however, wetlands have become vulnerable to invasive species. Known as major contributors to wetland and coastal habitat loss, invasive species also threaten native species, including endangered species that rely exclusively on the wetlands for survival. The foreign animals that have been recognized as invasive to coastal wetlands include Asian carp, wild boar, island apple snails, and nutria. Invasive plant species include Chinese tallow, common reed, and purple loosestrife. Invasive animal and plant species have altered the health of wetlands by out-competing native species for food and natural resources, often without any natural predator or control to halt the resulting aggressive spread through an area. CWPPRA strives to protect wetlands by constructing methods to diminish the invasive threat and restore native species’ dominance and health within the wetlands.
For a full list of Invasive species in Louisiana, click here.
The invasive plant, giant Salvinia, was first observed in Chenier Plain marshes in 2009. Since then it has spread throughout most of the Louisiana Chenier Plain marshes. This plant can stack up above the water surface to as much as 6 to 12 inches. Under such conditions, oxygen exchange is greatly reduced, and decay of shaded Salvinia can easily cause anoxic conditions in affected areas. As a result, habitat quality of badly infested areas is severely degraded, and may affect many species typical of fresh marshes, including many species of management concern (alligator snapping turtle, mottled duck [including critical brood rearing habitat], wintering migratory waterfowl, black rail, king rail, little blue heron, whooping crane, and peregrine falcon).
LSU Ag. Center has a pond in Jeanerette, La. which is capable of producing weevil-infested Salvinia, but LSU does not have funding to operate a weevil production facility here. Costs associated with this project consists primarily of supplies and one part-time position to operate the pond, coordinate public weevil harvests, keep records of release locations, monitor Salvinia problem areas, assist landowners in conducting weevil release, relay infested Salvinia to new locations, and conduct public outreach to promote the program.
The Louisiana Salvinia Weevil Propagation Facility project is located coastwide.
This project was approved for Phase I, Phase II, and Operation in January 2017.
This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 26.
The Louisiana Salvinia Weevil Propagation Facility project sponsors include:
This highly invasive, non-native aquatic plant ranks as the second most damaging aquatic weed worldwide. Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta), known as the green monster, is a serious threat to wetland ecosystems as it affects a multitude of different factors. While able to be contained in its native country of Brazil, the eradication of Giant Salvinia in the United States proves difficult with respect to legal herbicides.
Giant Salivinia has oblong floating leaves, approximately one-half to one and one-half inches long, with small vertical hairs on the upper surface. This exotic vegetation forms dense concentrations to create a compiled mat formation, often 3 feet in depth. In a time span of three months, with ideal conditions, a single plant can multiply to cover 40 square miles. With such an immensely rapid growth rate, Giant Salvinia can quickly take over a waterway, causing devastating and lasting results. These mats halt the penetration of sunlight into the water and, by doing so, eliminate native competition by smothering nearby plants and phytoplankton. Fish kills occur as a result of depleted oxygen levels due to the lack of phytoplankton, which in turn destroys the value of an area as waterfowl habitat. Along with natural consequences, Giant Salvinia has the potential to block entire waterways, preventing water vessel passage, whether for recreational or commercial purposes.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act realizes the importance of and continues to work toward establishing a successful eradication method for Giant Salvinia. To aid in the prevention of Giant Salvinia expansion, consider discarding any plant fragments from boating equipment and vessels, as well as discarding garden and aquarium plants, in the garbage as opposed to water bodies.
Frequently included in the visionary imagery of Louisiana’s swamp landscape is gray, vine-like vegetation commonly seen draped on cypress branches. Thought to be a moss, Spanish moss is actually a bromeliad related to pineapples and succulent house plants in the same taxonomic family. Similarly, Spanish moss is not native to Spain, as is commonly thought; it is, however, native to South America and the Caribbean and grows from Texas to Virginia in the U.S. Inclined to moist areas, an ideal habitat for Spanish moss is a tree residing in a tropical swampland. Spanish moss is a rootless epiphyte—although Spanish moss is located on tree branches, it does not obtain food or water from the supporting tree as a parasite would. Spanish moss spreads and propagates from fragments known as festoons which are carried by wind or birds and initiate growth after landing in suitable conditions. An abundance of wetland wildlife utilize Spanish moss for survival needs, such as birds building nests and spiders and frogs hiding from predators.
Plants of the wetlands are generally known to be highly dependent upon specific conditions, such as salinity, proximity to water, and vegetation type.
While some plants are able to adapt to condition alterations, other species do not overcome change as well. However, a major threat to all wetland vegetation is hydrilla.
Hydrilla is a non-native, invasive aquatic plant that has staked its claim by out-competing native plants and obstructing waterways. Hydrilla is a submerged, perennial plant that prefers freshwater, but can tolerate up to 7% salinity. This aggressive plant is known for clogging waterways, impeding natural flow, affecting human use such as fishing and seafood harvest, and clogging intakes and municipal drinking water supplies. Hydrilla can take over an area quickly as a result of its ability to multiply rapidly using four different strategies. Regrowth of stem fragments containing at least one node into a new plant, tubers on rhizomes producing new tubers, leaf turions that settle into sediment and form a new plant, and seed dispersal are all methods of reproduction for hydrilla. Hydrilla can out-compete native plants by its ability to tolerate low and high nutrient conditions in addition to growing in low light environments. Hydrilla is also successful in out-competing other plants by growing at a rate of one inch per day until reaching the water’s surface, followed by branching out to form a mat of vegetation which blocks light to other plants.
In order to control the growth of hydrilla, salvinia weevils have been released into severely affected areas. The salvinia weevil lives exclusively on hydrilla as a food source, thus reducing growth rates to allow control of the plant. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act is currently researching the best, most beneficial method of controlling and eradicating invasive plant species.