Jan 21, 2010 11:35 AM by Letitia Walker
Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Task Force (CWPPRA) approved nine projects for design and construction that will ultimately benefit more than 3,100 acres of Louisiana’s fragile coastal wetlands, barrier islands and beaches. The task force approved the projects at its meeting today in New Orleans.
The projects, which are spread across seven coastal parishes including Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne, Vermilion and Cameron, represent a total of more than $230 million in state and federal funds. This represents the largest CWPPRA investment in coastal restoration projects in Louisiana’s history. Specifically, over $100 million in funds were approved for construction of five restoration projects and nearly $11 million in engineering and design funds will advance four additional restoration efforts. The estimated $120 million construction cost of the design projects are expected to be funded in future years.
Governor Jindal said, “These projects are a critical part of our overall effort to restore and protect Louisiana’s coastal ecosystems and communities. We’ve invested a record $660 million in coastal restoration and hurricane and flood protection projects during the past two years, and CWPPRA projects will remain a key element as we continue to make larger, historic investments in coastal restoration projects.”
Projects Approved For Construction:
· Cameron-Creole Freshwater Introduction, Vegetative Plantings: Will restore 200 acres of hurricane-impacted marsh in Cameron Parish at a cost of $1,147,096. The restored marsh will stabilize the area that will benefit from a freshwater introduction component of the project.
· Barataria Basin Landbridge: Will protect three miles of shoreline along Bayou Perot and Little Lake in Jefferson Parish which is experiencing up to 15 feet of erosion per year. The project will protect 107 acres of marsh at a total cost of $20,489,664.
· West BellePass Barrier Headland Restoration: Will restore the barrier headland function of this area that will provide a first line of defense to Port Fourchon and Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes. The project will benefit 305 acres at a total cost of $42,250,417.
· South Grand Chenier Hydrologic Restoration: Will introduce freshwater, sediment, and nutrients into newly created marsh in Cameron Parish, reducing salinities and increasing vegetative coverage. This project will benefit 453 acres at a total cost of $29,046,128.
· GIWW Bank Restoration of Critical Areas in Terrebonne: Will restore critical lengths of deteriorated banks of the Gulf Intracoastal Water Way, providing protection to the largest floating marsh complex in Coastal Louisiana. This project will benefit 65 acres at a total cost of $13,022,246.
Projects Approved For Design:
· Lost LakeMarsh Creation and Hydrologic Restoration: Will restore 749 acres of marsh along the shorelines of Bayou Decade and LakePagie in Terrebonne Parish at a cost of $22,943,866. Several water control structures will also be replaced to allow more freshwater and sediment input into the project area.
· Freshwater Bayou Marsh Creation: Will restore of 279 acres of marsh along the western shoreline of Freshwater Bayou in Vermilion Parish at a total cost of $25,523,755. It will help to protect the MermentauBasin from saltwater intrusion.
· LaBranche East Marsh Creation: Will restore 715 acres of marsh along the I-10 hurricane evacuation corridor in St. Charles Parish using sediment from Lake Pontchartrain, at a total cost of $32,323,291.
· Cheniere RonquilleBarrierIsland Restoration: Will restore 234 acres of barrier island habitat in Plaquemines Parish at a total cost of $43,828,285. The project will restore the island’s function as a first line of defense against hurricane storm surges.
“CWPPRA has done a remarkable job of putting projects on the ground relatively quickly, including two barrier island restorations and two of the largest marsh creation projects ever built in our state in 2009 alone,” said Coastal Protection and Restoration Chairman Garret Graves, who represents the state on the CWPPRA Task Force. “These nine projects are a key part of an overall $17 billion ongoing effort to restore and protect coastal Louisiana. With the restoration projects underway today because of state investments, we’re projected to have the lowest rate of land loss since the 1930’s.”
In other business, the CWPPRA Task Force voted to close the West Bay Sediment Diversion in lower Plaquemines Parish during the next low water period on the Mississippi River. The diversion, which was built by the Army Corps of Engineers to divert water from the Mississippi River into adjacent coastal areas, has conveyed as much as 50,000 cubic feet per second of water into shallow water areas west of the river. The project’s success and impacts have been the source of much scrutiny in recent years.
Corps officials claimed that the Westbay diversion was inducing shoaling, or causing the build up of sediment in navigable and anchorage areas of the river. According to an agreement signed before the diversion’s construction, funds from CWPPRA, intended to be used specifically for coastal restoration projects, would be used to dredge the anchorage area if it was determined that the diversion was causing the shoaling.
Studies conducted by state officials, and confirmed by the Corps in 2009, showed that only a fraction of the shoaling, was being caused by the diversion. However, rather than bearing the cost of annual dredging the anchorage, the Task Force voted to develop a closure plan for the diversion.
“Closing this diversion is a real disappointment, but continuing to dedicate coastal restoration dollars to dredging projects is simply unsustainable. Until this induced shoaling issue is addressed by Washington, portions of our coastal program are going to keep hitting this brick wall” Graves said. “Until we resolve this policy issue and direct the proper resources needed to use the Mississippi River for both navigation and restoration, closing WestBay will accomplish nothing.”
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Task Force, or Breaux Act Task Force is a federal-state task force charged with carrying out small-scale restoration efforts in coastal Louisiana. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the State of Louisiana are represented on the task force.