A project to restore 620 acres of marsh, nourish 310 additional acres, and reestablish the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline rim near Bayou Bonfouca in St. Tammany Parish is approximately 90 percent complete and is expected to finish dredging activities by early December, reports Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board (CPRA).
Remaining construction related work should be complete by January and demobilization work will occur during daytime hours only.
The lake-rim shoreline was breached during Hurricane Katrina. Freshwater interior marsh was degraded and eroded and saltier water from the lake began to push into the marsh. “Once construction is completed, this portion of Lake Pontchartrain shoreline will see the return of a healthy and protective marsh ecosystem,” said Johnny Bradberry, Chairman of the CPRA, the state entity partnering with the federal U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on the restoration project.
CPRA Executive Director Michael Ellis said the method being used has been proven to work in all areas of the coast, including the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain. “This process of restoration—dredging sediment from the lake and adding it to the marsh—worked extremely well in the adjacent Goose Point area,” said Ellis. “By giving the marsh more sediment to root in and by restoring the lake perimeter, the healthier marsh environment will help lessen storm and tidal surge damage.”
Ellis also noted that constructing the project involves more than just dredging and pumping sediment and building a shoreline ridge. “This project is designed to maintain connections between tidal creeks and ponds within the marsh, to allow a healthy flux of water exchange. The containment dikes are built to settle into natural fisheries access points in the years following construction.”
The Bayou Bonfouca Marsh Creation Project is located within the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. CPRA and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are partnering on the restoration through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA), a federal funding program that matches 85 percent to the state match of 15 percent; as Louisiana’s state cost share sponsor, CPRA’s investment is $28.2 million.
Since 2007, CPRA has partnered with CWPRRA for nearly $1.2 billion in coastal projects in Southeast Louisiana that have been completed, are now in construction, or are working towards construction. “Currently, CPRA is in the engineering and design phase for ten projects totaling approximately $291 million in funding through CWPPRA,” said Bradberry.