On January 19, 2022, the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office (LOSCO) announced that Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) funds stemming from an oil spill incident will be used to fund a Louisiana Master Plan marsh creation and habitat restoration project this year.
“The construction of this project is a great example of teamwork among many individuals, agencies, and programs that will result in something positive from a tragic situation,” said Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Executive Director Bren Haase.
“The restoration of this area will be a benefit to the Lake Calcasieu estuary and the fish, wildlife, and communities that depend on it,” he added.
The Long Point Bayou Marsh Creation project in Cameron Parish is using $13.7 million in NRDA settlement funds resulting from environmental damages caused when two storage tanks at CITGO Petroleum Corporation’s Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex overflowed during a rainstorm in 2006.
Approximately 54,000 barrels of oil and millions of gallons of oily wastewater flowed into the Indian Marais, the Calcasieu River, and the surrounding estuary, polluting over 155 miles of shoreline in residential and marsh areas, forcing closure of the Calcasieu Ship Channel, and injuring marsh habitat, birds, fish, and other aquatic life.
The project will restore approximately 400 acres of marsh in Long Point Bayou south of Hackberry.
An additional $1.5 million of the settlement funds will be used to create 18 acres of oyster reef via oyster cultch placement in lower Lake Calcasieu.
A third project will use $1.65 million to restore and enhance bird nesting habitat on an island in Terrebonne Parish.
Selected projects will receive $740,000 of the NRDA funds to compensate for recreational opportunities lost during the 2006 oil spill, including recreational boating, shore fishing, and general shoreline use. Recreational project ideas can be submitted to https://data.losco.org/.
The Long Point Bayou Marsh Creation Project was designed by CPRA in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with funding through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA).
The restoration project, located between LA Highway 27 and the Calcasieu Ship Channel, will create and nourish emergent brackish marsh using sediment dredged from the Ship Channel.
Tidal creeks and vegetative plantings will be added after the material settles and consolidates, and containment dikes will be gapped to provide hydrologic exchange between Long Point Bayou and surrounding marsh.
“LOSCO is proud of the collaboration and tireless efforts of our state and federal partners in securing compensation for the injured resources,” said Sam Jones, the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator.
“It is through partnerships like these, between the Natural Resource Trustees and the CWPPRA Task Force, that we achieve valuable, cost-effective restoration to compensate the public for oil spills,” he continued.
The Natural Resource Trustees for the 2006 spill are LOSCO, CPRA, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service.
“This project is a win-win, restoring valuable Louisiana coastal wetland habitat and using maintenance dredged materials, which are often cast aside or placed into offshore sites,” said Charles Maguire, EPA’s representative on the CWPPRA Task Force.
“I commend CPRA on completing the engineering and design in about 2 years after CWPPRA funding approval. EPA looks forward to fostering future projects like this,” he concluded.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will advertise for construction this summer. in conjunction with maintenance dredging of the Ship Channel.
The initial restoration work will last approximately one year.
Photo of restoration work on Long Point Bayou is courtesy of CPRA.