$17 Million Contract Awarded To Create Louisiana Storm Buffer
The NOAA Restoration Center and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources have awarded a $17.7 million wetlands restoration contract that will protect and create 1,400 acres of wetlands in Lafourche Parish to buffer the coastline against future storms.
Wetlands and coastal marshes provide an indispensable buffer for populated areas against the impacts of coastal storms and hurricanes. The 2005 hurricane season underscored this fact, NOAA said, announcing the contract.
The project, awarded to Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Company of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, is located in an area that protects approximately 3,000 acres of fragile interior marshes between Louisiana’s Little Lake shoreline and Bayou L’Ours Ridge.
The Little Lake Shoreline Protection and Dedicated Dredging Project is an area of considerable wetland loss which was caused by shoreline erosion, subsidence and channel construction.
“This project marks one of the largest marsh creation projects in the nation,” said NOAA administrator Dr. Conrad Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere.
“This project, and others like it, are a key component in protecting natural resources in Louisiana as well as providing defense against hurricanes,” Lautenbacher said. “It is exciting to see coastal restoration of this magnitude happening so soon after the impact from last year’s hurricanes.”
Known informally as the Little Lake/Round Lake Project, the restoration is designed to prevent erosion along roughly five miles of Little Lake shoreline; create 490 acres of inter-tidal wetlands along the Little Lake shoreline; and nourish 530 acres of intermediate marsh.
The project is key to the restoration and protection of coastal Louisiana, its communities and its natural resources and is scheduled for completion as early as winter 2006.
NOAA Fisheries Service habitat specialists, working through the NOAA Restoration Center, coordinate the planning, construction and monitoring of wetlands projects such as the Little Lake/Round Lake Project as part of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA), commonly known as the Breaux Act.
“This partnership with NOAA allows the state to restore some vital marshland in Lafourche parish,” said Scott Angelle, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. “The project will put nutrient-rich dredged material into an area that has been deprived and degraded over the years.”
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act funds habitat restoration programs on an 85 percent – 15 percent cost sharing with the state of Louisiana. Five federal agencies and the state comprise the CWPPRA team working to reverse the loss of approximately 25 square miles of wetlands per year in Louisiana.
Cooperative wetlands rebuilding projects under CWPPRA are implemented through agreements between the federal agency sponsors and the Louisiana DNR. Projects are selected and managed by the Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force, as established by CWPPRA.
The Task Force is a partnership among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA Fisheries Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Governor’s Office.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.