On October 8, 2019, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) announced the successful completion of the Cole’s Bayou Marsh Restoration Project in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana.
CPRA anticipates the Cole’s Bayou project will protect and revitalize commercial and recreational fisheries, hunting, and trapping near Intracoastal City and in the Vermilion Bay Estuary and Gulf of Mexico over the next 20 years. (While I’m happy that wildlife is regaining healthier habitat, this author hopes that the barbarically-cruel practice of trapping is soon outlawed.)
“Today’s announcement symbolizes another step forward in our efforts to restore coastal Louisiana,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline. “It also showcases another successful project completion in Southwest Louisiana, a region where we continue to prioritize investments in order to enhance the natural environment and protect the people of the Chenier Plain.”
Dredged sediment from Little Vermilion Bay was utilized to create and nourish more than 400 acres of marsh east of Freshwater Bayou Canal. The project also involved the construction of nine water control structures consisting of 22 culverts to improve the flow of freshwater and sediment within the area’s interior wetlands.
“CPRA has been hard at work across Southwest Louisiana. Over the past year, there have been four restoration projects under construction in Cameron and Vermilion Parishes,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
“These projects will restore approximately 1,350 acres and we’re advancing an additional 13 projects through design that will benefit 11,980 acres of wetlands in this region. Once complete, these projects will represent a collective investment of over $500 million in coastal restoration for Southwest Louisiana,” he added.
The Cole’s Bayou area has suffered significant marsh loss due to saltwater intrusion and hydrologic changes associated with storm impacts and increasing tidal influence. The interruption of freshwater flow, along with subsidence and lack of sediment replenishment, caused saltwater ponding and marsh loss. This restoration project added sediment to the depleted areas and restored the flow of freshwater through nine new water control structures.
“Our Coastal Master Plan warns that we could lose 17% of Vermilion Parish over the next 50 years if nothing is done, so getting projects like this moving and on the ground is vitally important,” said CPRA Executive Director Bren Haase.
The $25 million project is a partnership between CPRA and the Fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) using funding provided by the federal Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA).
“Coastal habitat restoration, such as the Cole’s Bayou Restoration Project, provides vital services for the state, region, and nation by maintaining productive and sustainable fisheries and healthy ecosystems,” said NOAA Fisheries project manager Patrick Williams.
“Habitat is essential for maintaining fish and wildlife populations and providing a natural speed bump for storms helping to protect coastal infrastructure, businesses, and homes,” he concluded.
Featured before/after photos courtesy of CPRA.