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NOAA’s Largest Wetland Restoration Project Underway in Louisiana

April 20, 2022

NOAA and partners began construction on a massive 1,200 acre marsh creation project in Louisiana’s Barataria Basin. The $151 million project will create habitat, reduce erosion, and protect communities.

Construction equipment in a marsh An excavator constructs a containment dike in one of the marsh creation areas of the Upper Barataria marsh creation project. Credit: Moffatt & Nichol.

NOAA and partners recently began construction of the almost 1,200-acre Upper Barataria marsh creation project. This is one of NOAA’s largest habitat restoration efforts to date and will build upon our previous efforts to restore wetland habitats in Louisiana. 

This project is instrumental in restoring and creating habitat, and supporting NOAA’s goals and priorities for climate resilience. Additionally, it will provide more than 140 construction-related jobs, further enhancing habitat restoration’s economic benefits in the region.

The project was approved by the Deepwater Horizon Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group to restore habitats impacted by the 2010 oil spill. It is underway through NOAA’s strong partnership with the Louisiana Coastal Protection Authority, who are leading Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan.

Project Details

Construction, maintenance, and monitoring of the project is expected to cost up to $151 million. It is expected to create up to 1,183 acres of intertidal wetlands and marsh. The new, healthy coastal wetland habitat will support diverse species of fish and wildlife, and help reduce impacts of future storms on other coastal resources and communities.

The construction process will fill target areas with approximately 8.4 million cubic yards of sediment. The sediment will be dredged from the Mississippi River and pumped through pipelines over 13 miles. That’s almost enough sediment to fill two Superdome stadiums! 

Image
A large pipeline runs through a construction area
This 30-inch diameter pipeline will carry sediment slurry from the Mississippi River to the marsh creation areas. Credit: Moffatt & Nichol.

Louisiana and the Barataria Basin are in the midst of a land loss crisis. The basin has lost more than 276,000 acres of land since the 1930s. Wetlands in the basin were the most heavily impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which accelerated a severe land loss trend threatening Louisiana’s estuaries. The oil spill and response activities also significantly increased the rate of wetland loss in the area. Large-scale restoration projects help slow the high rate of land loss in Louisiana, while providing habitat for valuable Gulf of Mexico fisheries.

The contractor, Weeks Marine, Inc., began construction in late 2021. The project will have one construction phase to maximize cost effectiveness and take approximately 26 months to complete.

Stay Tuned for More Announcements

As part of a virtual launch in early summer 2022, NOAA and partners will share more information and updates. In the meantime, more information on the Upper Barataria marsh creation project can be found via the Louisiana Restoration Area section of the Deepwater Horizon Trustee Council website. 

Information about other projects in Louisiana can be found through the interactive Gulf Spill Restoration Projects map.