RESTORE Act money from the BP oil spill will be used to backfill 16.5 miles of canals in the Barataria Unit of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve south of New Orleans near the communities of Jean Lafitte and Crown Point.
The Jean Lafitte Canal Backfilling project is sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior with funding through the RESTORE Act.
It will take about six months to complete and will allow the area to revert to freshwater marsh, swamp and shallow water habitat through natural processes.
The process will enhance the resiliency of the wetland ecosystem adjacent to 20 miles of the Federal levee system protecting Greater New Orleans.
Another RESTORE project approved for planning, this one sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service on behalf of the Federally Recognized Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, is using $5.16 million for engineering and design of the Bayou Dularge Ridge, Marsh and Hydrologic Restoration in Terrebonne Parish.
If constructed, the project could help re-establish hydrologic and salinity conditions for the health of 540 acres of marsh.
For the canal backfilling project in Jean Lafitte National Park, the spoil banks will be graded to meet the elevation of the surrounding wetlands.
The open water of the canals will be partially filled with graded soil and vegetative material in order to reclaim canals.
Leveling of spoil banks and dikes will be accomplished through the use of a marsh buggy, barge-mounted excavator, or similar earthmoving equipment and by accessing each site from existing canals or spoil banks.
Specific mitigation techniques will be implemented to minimize potential impacts to navigation and recreation as well as to help meet habitat restoration and preservation objectives.
To date, approximately $52 million in RESTORE Act funding has been allocated for seven projects in Louisiana, with additional projects under consideration.