Habitat Matters: Rebuilding Louisiana Wetlands

June 21, 2018

Celebrating Habitat Month

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Construction of the Pass La Mer to Chaland Pass

Between 1984 and 2010, approximately 16.62 miles annually were lost from Louisiana’s coastal wetlands due to human activity and natural processes – more than all other lower 48 states combined1. To combat that staggering loss of coastal habitat (estimated at 22,000 acres annually2), the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) was established in 1990. 

CWPPRA created a partnership among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and State of Louisiana. 

The annual budget for CWPPRA funded restoration has ranged from about $60-80 million per year, investing more than $1.7 billion in restoration efforts to date2.  Since its inception, 214 coastal restoration or protection projects have been authorized, benefiting over approximately 88,000 acres in Louisiana, making it the largest and longest lasting wetland restoration program in the United States2

The NOAA-CWPPRA team is comprised of staff from NOAA's Habitat Conservation Division (HCD), the Restoration Center, and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center. The team has overseen almost 50 projects, seeking to restore diverse habitat types throughout Louisiana1.

Since 1990 HCD oversaw completion of 23 major CWPPRA restoration projects, which have created approximately nearly 41,000 acres of wetlands in Louisiana to mitigate significant coastal land loss, including completion of the largest wetland restoration contract managed by NOAA (Pelican Island) — under budget and three months ahead of schedule. 

Other notable projects are Grand Liard Marsh and Ridge Restoration and the Pass Chaland to Grand Bayou Pass Barrier Shoreline Restoration.  In addition, HCD awaits construction funding for an additional 5 projects which have cleared the Engineering and Design process.  Fully funded, HCD-sponsored CWPPRA projects cost $676.5M.

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Construction of the Pass La Mer to Chaland Pass Headland Restoration project was completed in 2007 restoring 484 acres of beach, dune, and marsh. Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.

How are projects chosen?  HCD is NOAA’s voting member of CWPPRA’s oversight committee that selects projects for three phases of funding: Engineering and Design, Construction, and Operations and Maintenance.  When nominating a project, Division staff gathers data, prepare designs, and perform cost-to-benefit analyses.  HCD-sponsored projects are in competition against other projects to win Engineering & Design funds, and again later to win Construction, Operations, Maintenance & Monitoring funds. HCD’s Fiscal Year 2017 annual operating plan goal was fulfilled by developing, planning, and nominating at least ten projects.  Two of those projects were then selected to compete for Engineering & Design funding.

 

In 2017, the Division coordinated with the NOAA CWPPRA team on post-construction monitoring for the Bayou DuPont Ridge Creation and Marsh Restoration Project developing marsh and ridge planting and dike gapping plans and the Grand Liard Marsh and Ridge Creation Project.  Construction of these two NOAA-sponsored projects was completed in 2015.

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Construction of the following NMFS-sponsored projects occurred in 2017: Rockefeller Shoreline Protection Project, consisting of 2.8 miles of Gulf shoreline protection; and Oyster Bayou Marsh Creation and Terracing Project, created 750 acres of marsh with sediment dredged from the Gulf of Mexico.  For other projects, the Division participated in landowner coordination meetings and resolved design concerns.  This will result in the Cole’s Bayou Marsh Restoration project being advertised for construction in 2018 and the Cameron Meadows Marsh Creation and Terracing Project being advertised for construction in 2019.  NMFS coordinated with the CPRA and landowners to request additional construction funds for the Deltawide Crevasses project located in the Mississippi River Delta to identify crevasses needing cleanout, extension, or areas for new construction.

Key to the success of CWPPRA is collaboration between the partners; and also collaboration among other federal agencies, Louisiana state agencies, local Parishes, and landowners.  HCD will further our partnership with CWPPRA toward future Louisiana restoration effort success stories.

References:

1https://www.lacoast.gov/reports/rtc/FINAL_CWPPRA_RTC_2015_reduced_12-2015.pdf

2http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat_conservation/hcd_headlines/cwppra_whats_cooking_with_coastal_habitat_restoration_in_louisiana.html

Last updated by on July 16, 2018