One of the largest ecosystem restoration projects ever undertaken by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has restored the Caminada Headland, a 13-mile stretch of beach and dune running from the Belle Pass outlet of Bayou Lafourche eastward to Caminada Pass at the end of Elmer’s Island.
The new beach covers an area equivalent to approximately 1,047 football fields.
The 8.4 million cubic yards of sand used was dredged from an ancient Mississippi River delta out in the Gulf of Mexico below Cocodrie. It was barged 30 miles to the headland where it was used to build up 13 miles of beach to a height 4.5 feet above sea level, with a dune elevation of seven feet, and a dune crest width of 290 feet.
The average depth of the beach from dune to shoreline is approximately 65 feet.
CPRA Chairman Johnny Bradberry said that the restoration is important for the safety of Port Fourchon, and also for much more.
“This is another link in a chain of projects that define and protect our coastal perimeter,” said Bradberry. “These headland beaches and barrier islands are our first line of defense, bearing the initial impact of damaging storm surge. They help lessen the impact on people and infrastructure further inland, and help minimize damage to our maturing marsh restoration projects.”
According to CPRA, the nation’s most-important energy port, Fourchon is already looking to take things to the next level as it moves forward with development of the next generation of deepwater port facilities.
“We’re looking to develop an additional 900 acres of property that will be home to a state-of-the-art deepwater rig repair and refurbishment facility,” said Chett Chiasson, Executive Director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission. “This will allow us to service the entire industrial life cycle of the assets for our tenants and their customers in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Another sign of a sustainable and growing future for the port is the proposed development on site of an $800 million liquefied natural gas production and export facility.
The $216 million Caminada Headland restoration is an important project of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan. It has been funded by the state ($30 million in State Surplus), the federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program ($40 million), and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Fund ($145.9 million) established in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to manage funds resulting from the settlement of federal criminal charges against BP and Transocean.