Kelso Bayou Marsh Creation

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The most significant environmental problem affecting the
marshes in this area is deterioration and conversion to open
water. Marsh loss has and continues to occur as a result
of salt water intrusion and sediment export (erosion). The
construction of the Calcasieu Ship Channel and the Gulf
Intracoastal Waterway greatly increased the efficiency
of water exchange through Calcasieu Pass. Freshwater
retention was consequently reduced and salt water is able
to enter interior marshes and penetrate further north and
west. Project-area marshes are connected to the navigation
channels through a network of canals and bayous including
Kelso Bayou and Alkali Ditch. Unvegetated substrate
is vulnerable to increased tidal exchange and immense
quantities of organic substrate are being exported.
Recent marsh loss and scouring at the mouth of Kelso
Bayou from impacts related to Hurricanes Rita and Ike allow
increased salt water intrusion, tidal exchange, and storm
surge impacts.

The goal of this project is to restore and protect
approximately 319 acres of critically important marsh
and the numerous functions provided by those areas. The
proposed project will restore a portion of the historic
meandering channel of Kelso Bayou and provide direct
protection to Louisiana State Highway 27, the region’s only
northward hurricane evacuation route. Project features
include creating/nourishing 319 acres of marsh, 3,200 linear
feet of shoreline protection, and rock armor at the mouth of
Kelso Bayou to prevent additional tidal scour.


This project is located in Region 4, Calcasieu-Sabine Basin,
Cameron Parish. The project features are located in an area
south of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and just west of the
Calcasieu Ship Channel.

This project is on Project Priority List (PPL) 20.

The Kelso Bayou Marsh Creation project sponsors include:

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

LaBranche Central Marsh Creation


Dredging of access/flotation canals for construction of I-10 resulted in increased salinity & altered hydrology that exacerbated conversion of wetland vegetation into shallow open water bodies. Land loss is estimated to be -0.543 percent/year based on USGS data from 1984 to 2011 within the extended project boundary.

The primary goal is to restore marsh that converted to shallow open water. Project implementation will result in an increase of fisheries and wildlife habitat, acreage, and diversity along with improving water quality. The proposed project will provide a protective wetland buffer to the railroad and I-10, the region’s primary westward hurricane evacuation route, and complement hurricane protection measures in the area.

The proposed solution consists of the creation of 762 acres of emergent wetlands and the nourishment of 140 acres of existing wetlands using dedicated dredging from Lake Pontchartrain. The marsh creation area will have a target elevation the same as average healthy marsh. It is proposed to place the dredge material in the target area with the use of retention dikes along the edge of the project area. If degradation of the containment dikes has not occurred naturally by Target Year 3, gapping of the dikes will be mechanically performed. Successful wetland restoration in the immediate area (PO-17 constructed in 1994) clearly demonstrates the ability for these wetlands to be restored using material from a sustainable borrow area (outlet end of Bonnet Carre Spillway). Engineering monitoring surveys of the marsh creation area and borrow area are planned as well.


This project is located in the Pontchartrain Basin (Region 1), St. Charles Parish. It is bounded to the north by the railroad running parallel to I-10, to the west by the marsh fringe just east of Bayou LaBranche, to the south by Bayou Traverse and to the east by marsh fringe west of a pipeline canal.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 21.

The LaBranche Central Marsh Creation project sponsors include:

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

Coastwide Reference Monitoring System

In 1990, the U.S. Congress enacted the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) in response to the growing awareness of Louisiana’s land loss
crisis. CWPPRA was the first federal, statutorily mandated program with a stable source of funds dedicated exclusively to the short- and long-term restoration of the coastal wetlands of Louisiana. Between 1990 and 2016, 108 restoration projects were constructed through the CWPPRA program. These projects include diversions of freshwater and sediments to improve marsh vegetation; dredged material placement for marsh creation; shoreline protection; sediment and nutrient trapping; hydrologic restoration through outfall, marsh, and delta management; and vegetation planting on barrier islands.

The coastal protection and restoration efforts implemented through numerous CWPPRA crms_wetlandsprojects require monitoring and evaluation of project effectiveness. There is also a need to assess the cumulative effects of all projects to achieve a sustainable coastal environment. In 2003, the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration (now CPRA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) received approval from the CWPPRA Task Force to implement the Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS) as a mechanism to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of CWPPRA projects at the project, region, and coastwide levels (Steyer and others, 2003). The CRMS network is currently funded through CWPPRA and provides data for a variety of user groups, including resource managers, academics, landowners, and researchers.

The effectiveness of a traditional monitoring approach using paired treatment and reference sites is limited in coastal Louisiana because of difficulty in finding comparable test sites; therefore, a multiple reference approach using aspects of hydrogeomorphic functional assessments and probabilistic sampling was adapted into the CRMS design. The CRMS approach gathers information from a suite of sites that encompass a range of ecological conditions across the coast. Trajectories of changing conditions within the reference sites can then be compared with trajectories of change within project sites. The CRMS design not only allows for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of each project but will also support ongoing evaluation of the cumulative effects of all CWPPRA projects throughout the coastal ecosystems of Louisiana. Simulations made by using the resampling methodology described in Steyer and others (2003) indicated that 100 randomly selected reference sites would accurately represent the true composition of coastwide vegetation at a 95 percent confidence level. However, in order to detect a 20 percent change in coastal marsh vegetation between two time periods, at least 80 percent of the time, approximately 400 reference sites were needed. Because of land rights and other technical issues, 390 sites with a fixed annual sampling design were approved and secured for CRMS data collection. These 390 CRMS sites are located within nine coastal basins and four CWPPRA regions, covering the entire Louisiana coast. Site construction and data collection began in 2005.

Because of the quantity of products and data that will be produced over the lifetime of the CRMS project, a website ( was designed to be a one-stop shop for CRMS information, products, and data. The ecological data available through the website are linked to the official Louisiana CPRA database – the Coastal Information Management System (CIMS), which houses all CWPPRA monitoring data, on topics such as the following: hydrology, herbaceous marsh vegetation, forested swamp vegetation, soil properties, soil accretion, and surface elevation. Data provided by the Louisiana CPRA are available for downloading at The basic viewer (under Mapping) on the CRMS Web site provides a user-friendly interface for viewing information on specific sampling sites, including photos, data summaries, and report cards. Analytical teams are developing mechanisms by which individual sampling sites can be assessed in relation to other sites within the same marsh type, hydrologic basin, and CWPPRA project. These multi-scale evaluations will be presented on a “Report Card” tab within the basic viewer. The CRMS program is as dynamic as the coastal habitats it monitors. The program continues to develop new products and analysis tools while providing data for model improvement and scientific research. The CRMS Web site is the current dissemination mechanism for all activities related to the program. For a beginner’s guide to retrieving CRMS data, visit


Steyer, G.D., Sasser, C.E., Visser, J.M., Swensen, E.M., Nyman, J.A., and Raynie, R.C., 2003, A proposed coast-wide reference monitoring system for evaluating wetland restoration trajectories in Louisiana: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, v. 81, p. 107–117.

Oyster Bayou Marsh Creation


Altered hydrology, drought stress, saltwater intrusion and hurricane induced wetland losses have caused the area to undergo interior marsh breakup. Recent impacts from Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008 have resulted in the coalescence of Oyster Lake with interior water bodies increasing wave/wake related erosion. Based on USGS hyper temporal data analysis (1984 to 2011), land loss for the area is -0.75% per year. The subsidence rate is estimated at 0.0 to1.0 ft per century (Coast 2050, Mud Lake mapping unit).

The project boundary encompasses 809 acres. Specific goals of the project are: 1) create 510 acres of saline marsh in recently formed shallow open water; 2) nourish 90 acres of existing saline marsh; 3) create 17,500 linear feet of terraces; and, 4) reduce wave/wake erosion.

Approximately 510 acres of marsh would be created and 90 acres would be nourished. Sediment needed for the fill would be mined approximately one and a half miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Half of the created acres would be planted. Tidal creeks and ponds would be constructed prior to placement of dredged material and retention levees would be gapped to support estuarine fisheries access to achieve a functional marsh. Approximately 17,500 linear feet of earthen terraces would be constructed and planted.


This project is in Region 4, Calcasieu-Sabine Basin, located west of the Calcasieu Ship Channel and south of the west fork of the Calcasieu River.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 21.

The Oyster Bayou Marsh Creation project sponsors include:

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



CWPPRA Restoration Technique: Terracing

The goal of building terraces is to achieve some of the same objectives as full marsh creation but over a larger area of open water, where marsh creation alone is not feasible. Terraces are long, earthen berms that are built by mechanically dredging material and piling and shaping the material to a desired height. Most terraces average around 3 feet tall, with shallow side slopes and a wide base. This size and shape optimize the amount of terrace that falls in the intertidal zone and will support wetland vegetation.

The objectives of constructing terraces are several and depend upon the location in which they are built. These include acting as a sediment trap to help build new land, reducing wave fetch and erosion on adjacent marsh shorelines, creating habitat for fish and waterfowl, and improving water quality to promote the growth of aquatic vegetation. Terracing projects constructed under CWPPRA have achieved each of these goals, with sediment trapping being most evident near the openings of sediment-laden bays or navigational waterways.

Terracing has become a widely used technique that is expanding across the Gulf Coast because of the success and cost-effectiveness demonstrated through CWPPRA and privately funded projects. Although these features may not look like natural marsh and often use geometric configurations, they are able to perform a lot of the functions of natural marsh in areas that have become vast open water. Developing this cost-effective technique for use in areas that have few other restoration options is a testament to CWPPRA’s ability to adapt to funding constraints and a quickly changing environment.

TV-12 Little Vermilion Bay Sediment Trapping





Freshwater and Sediment Diversions

CWPPRA Restoration Technique: Freshwater and Sediment Diversions

The present location of the Mississippi River has been confined by levees constructed in response to the devastating flood of 1927. Although necessary for protecting life and property, the levees prevent the natural processes of delta building and sediment deposition that are vital for sustaining wetlands. Without this nourishment, the wetlands will eventually succumb to subsidence, storms, and anthropogenic impacts.

The CWPPRA program has been finding solutions to optimize river resources and help rebuild wetlands with minimal impact to other stakeholders. Controlled diversions route river water through strategic locations in the levees to feed starving marshes. Crevasses, or cuts, are constructed through levees to allow passive creation of smaller deltas. Siphons suction fresh river water and direct flow into wetlands suffering from saltwater intrusion. Water-control structures and channel maintenance help distribute river water diverted from large-scale structures constructed under other authorities.

The river presents the greatest opportunity for rebuilding land but also the greatest challenges, as competing needs are inevitable. The human and natural environments must be able to coexist because they are inextricably connected. Together with stakeholders, CWPPRA projects are helping to reverse land loss on an ecosystem scale and support the economy on which coastal Louisiana has come to depend.

MR-03 West Bay Sediment Diversion

St. Catherine Island Marsh Creation & Shoreline Protection


The landfall of Hurricane Katrina in southeast Louisiana destroyed thousands of acres of marsh and other coastal habitats in the Lake Pontchartrain basin. The hurricane weakened the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline and large areas of interior marsh habitat were either lost or damaged near Chef Menteur Pass. This area has an estimated erosion rate of 18 ft./yr. or greater. A portion of the lakeshore is protected by rock dikes (Bayou Chevee PO-22, State only project and FWS funded project). Shorelines that are not protected by rock dikes will erode back into the shallow open water areas located near the shorelines further increasing erosion rates.

This project would extend the Bayou Chevee (PO-22) rock dike along approximately 33,324 LF of weakened Lake Pontchartrain shoreline. A 6,468 LF foreshore dike and a 13,851 LF revetment totaling 20,319 LF is proposed to be built along a portion of the Bayou Savauge NWR. This would protect approximately 201 acres. This project would also create/nourish 115 acres (100 acres of marsh creation and 15 acres of marsh nourisment). That marsh would be created by filling those sites with material hydraulically dredged from the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain. A combination of healthy established marshes, bayou ridges, and constructed earthen dikes would contain that material. All constructed containment dikes would be sufficiently gapped within 3 years to allow for exchange of nutrients and estuarine organisms. This project would work synergistically with other restoration projects in the area including CWPPRA, state, and Bayou Savauge National Wildlife Refuge projects.

The goals of the project are to 1) stop shoreline erosion due
to wind generated waves along 33,324 linear feet of the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline, preserving 201 acres (166 acres of marsh and 35 acres of shallow water) and 2) create/nourish 115 acres (create 100 acres of marsh and nourish 15 acres of marsh) landward of that shoreline protection.

Service goals include the protection/creation of habitat or improvement of habitat for species of concern (LDWF), priority species (JV), and threatened and endangered species (FWS). The creation of low salinity brackish intertidal marsh habitat would be beneficial to several species that are currently on these lists, including, but not limited to Black Rail, Mottled Duck, Brown Pelican, King Rail, and Saltwater Topminnow. Helping to improve habitat, especially on Federal and State owned lands, ensures the protection of those valuable resources in perpetuity and should be a priority.


This project is located in Region 1, Pontchartrain Basin, Orleans Parish.

This project was approved for Phase I Engineering and Design in January 2017 and is on Priority Project List (PPL) 26.

The St. Catherine Island Marsh Creation & Shoreline Protection project sponsors include:

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