The Queen Bess Island project, one of the fastest moving restoration projects Louisiana has seen, is nearing its completion.
There is only a window of six months to complete the project during the non-nesting season in order for the birds to be able to lay eggs in the spring.
“One of the nuisances of this project is they did not want any construction occurring when the birds show up to nest,” said LSU Biological Engineering alumna Amanda Phillips. “Pelicans tend to nest where they were born. There could be large ramifications if their nesting were affected. Wildlife and Fisheries really wanted the construction to happen after nesting season, which is after Sept. 15 and before nesting season starts on March 15.”
Now in its final stages, the Queen Bess Island project will provide 30 acres of restored brown pelican and wading bird habitat, along with seven acres of nesting tern and black skimmer habitat.
In order to increase the island to 37 acres, sediment had to be dredged from the Mississippi River near Belle Chase and then barged to the site. The sand was then poured to help elevate the island.
Contractors sloped the island from the highest elevation at the southwest end and the lowest at the northeast end.
The project will make marsh habitat accessible for fish and protect it with a breakwater to reduce wave and tidal erosion. A row of breakwaters on the south side of the island will also give young birds a safe, calm area for swimming with easy access to the water. Limestone will cover about one-third of the island to provide habitat for other bird species looking for beachfront property.