Priority Projects for Coastal Louisiana
A variety of complementary restoration and protection projects are needed to stop land loss, build new coastline and safeguard the hunting and fishing opportunities that abound around the Mississippi River Delta.
Types of necessary projects include:
• sediment diversions,
• freshwater diversions,
• barrier island reconstruction,
• ridge restoration,
• shoreline protection, and
• projects to alleviate salinity intrusion into vulnerable marshes.
Learn more about the key principles of restoration for the delta >>
The projects are grouped within five distinct basins across coastal Louisiana and address a range of restoration priorities that both complement and enhance one another.
Pontchartrain-Maurepas Basin Projects:
- West Maurepas Freshwater Diversions
- Central Wetlands Diversion and Wetland Restoration
- Golden Triangle Marsh Creation (via Sediment Conveyance Pipeline East)
- New Orleans East Land-Bridge Restoration by Marsh Creation
The Pontchartrain-Maurepas Basin is dominated by three large estuarine lakes that are connected by tidal passes, with a gradient that runs from fresh to salt, running roughly west to east.
The priority projects in this basin restore freshwater flows into the upper basin swamps (West Maurepas) and lower basin marshes (Central Wetlands Diversion), coupled with marsh and swamp restoration. They also restore or sustain two marsh or swamp land-bridges: one between lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain, and one between Pontchartrain and Borgne. These projects help to prevent these three lakes from becoming a single arm of the Gulf. Learn more >>
Breton-Chandeleur Basin Projects:
- Mid-Breton Sediment Diversion
- Lower Breton Sediment Diversion
- Bayou la Loutre Ridge Restoration
- Biloxi Marsh Oyster Reef Restoration
The Breton-Chandeleur Basin is a large, open sound bordered on the east by remnants of a barrier island chain and on the west by the Mississippi River flood-protection levee system.
The priority projects selected for this basin reintroduce sediment and freshwater flows from the river to slow the rate of land loss, strengthen soils and build new land in the mid-basin (Mid-Breton Sediment Diversion) and in the lower basin (Lower Breton Sediment Diversion). Two projects – the Bayou la Loutre Ridge restoration and the Biloxi Marsh Oyster Reef – will provide natural structural protection by reducing wave and tidal energy, thus prolonging the life of the marshes while providing habitats for fish on the reef. Learn more >>
Barataria Basin Projects:
- Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion
- Lower Barataria Sediment Diversion
- Barataria Land-Bridge, Large-Scale Marsh Creation via Sediment Conveyance Pipeline (West)
- Barataria Pass to Sandy Point Barrier Island Restoration
- Belle Pass to Caminada Pass Barrier Island Restoration
The Barataria Basin is one of the nation’s most productive estuaries. However, starved of sediment, habitats throughout the estuary system are collapsing.
The restoration projects in this basin can work in concert to protect the upper basin freshwater wetlands, re-establish a barrier to Gulf intrusion, enhance storm surge protection and reintroduce annual infusions of freshwater, sediment and nutrients to build land and sustain existing wetlands. Learn more >>
Terrebonne-Atchafalaya Basin Projects
- Increase Atchafalaya Flow into Terrebonne Marshes
- Isles Dernieres Barrier Island Restoration
- Timbalier Islands Barrier Island Restoration
- Houma Navigation Canal Hydrologic Restoration
The Terrebonne and Atchafalaya Basins occupy the central coast of Louisiana. In Atchafalaya Bay, on the western side of the basin, the Atchafalaya River and its Wax Lake Outlet are building new land. However, in Terrebonne Bay, on the eastern side, wetlands are collapsing and becoming open water as the sediment-starved land sinks and salt water intrudes into freshwater wetlands.
The priority projects selected for this basin focus on stabilizing the barrier island system (Isles Dernieres Barrier Island and Timbalier Islands Barrier Island Restoration) and re-establishing a balance of fresh and salt water as well as sediment and nutrient distribution. Learn more >>
Chenier Plain Projects
- Calcasieu Ship Channel Salinity Control Measures
- Freshwater Bayou to Southwest Pass Shoreline Protection
The Chenier Plain coast was built by sediment drifting westward over the last seven thousand years from the changing active arms of the Mississippi River, including the Atchafalaya. The interior Chenier Plan is being overwhelmed by saltwater intrusion due to navigation features. These channels allowed salt water from the Gulf to penetrate deeply into formerly fresher marshes, leading to widespread marsh loss, while the jetty systems interrupted the flow of sediment from east to west.
The priority projects in this basin focus on increasing sustainability of the basin by reducing tidal action in Calcasieu Lake (Calcasieu Ship Channel Hydrological Modification) to help reduce interior salinity. In addition, shoreline protection (Freshwater Bayou to Southwest Pass) will reduce shoreline retreat on the critical southeast corner of the Chenier Plain. Learn more >>
Are these the only projects we would support?
The answer is no. One of the triumphs of the Coastal Master Plan is the development of a Planning Tool that can re-evaluate project selection as conditions change. Further, the state’s Coastal Master Plan process requires revision every five years. We embrace that flexibility. We also recognize that some funding sources, such as NRDA, may require projects targeted to specific resources, such as wildlife or fish species. Though such projects may not be part of the Coastal Master Plan, they are consistent with it.
Download Full Report
Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for People and Wildlife: Recommended Projects and Priorities report by National Wildlife Federation.
“With passage of the RESTORE Act, a comprehensive Master Plan, and now this settlement with BP, Louisiana is finally on a faster track to getting the big “dream” projects done.” – The Outdoor Kitchen Show
- RESTORE Act
- A Blueprint for Fixing the Coast — Read Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan
- Isle Dernier Chain: Barrier Island Bounty
- Something Needs to be Done, But What?
- Bringing Back a Healthier Louisiana Wetlands
- Gizmodo article: The Mississippi River Is a Landmaking Machine: Dredgefest 2014