$15.2M for two environmental projects in St. Bernard Parish, LA

The Regionwide Trustee Implementation Group (TIG), overseeing funds resulting from the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, is providing funding for environmental projects across the five Gulf of Mexico states affected by the spill.

Louisiana will receive $15.16 million for the engineering and design of two projects in St. Bernard Parish: $8 million to restore bird habitat on the Chandeleur Islands and $7.16 million for an oyster reef project in the Biloxi Marsh.

These funds will support the planning, engineering, and design steps necessary to advance these projects to construction.

The Chandeleur Islands have more than 50 species of plants and animals designated as “species of greatest conservation need,” with some not found anywhere else in the state. The islands have experienced a high rate of land loss due to subsidence, sea level rise, and sediment deprivation, as well as damage resulting from Hurricane Georges in 1998, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

CPRA will investigate the best design features to restore the islands with the placement of dredged sediment. This design will focus on creating essential wildlife habitat, including bird nesting environments, while also restoring the marine seagrass beds that are found at the Chandeleurs.

“This project and the current North Breton Island restoration within the Chandeleur chain are much-needed follow ups to the emergency berm sand dredging projects during the oil spill crisis in 2010 and 2011,” CPRA Chairman Chip Kline said.

Engineering and design studies for the Biloxi Marsh project aim to create a network of protected oyster broods linked to reefs where young oyster spat can grow into harvestable adult oysters. Project goals include increasing oyster abundance and resilience across a range of habitats and salinities. Five to six sub-sites will be placed in the Mississippi Sound and northern Biloxi Marsh.

“The importance of our oyster population extends beyond their use in Louisiana cuisine,” CPRA Executive Director Bren Haase said. “A healthy oyster reef also provides a stabilized shoreline, a living water filtration system, and an entire ecosystem for reef-dwelling species.”

While individual state Trustee Implementation Groups in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas receive funding for projects within their boundaries, the Regionwide TIG can fund projects across state and federal jurisdictions.

The allocations for Louisiana projects are included in the Regionwide TIG Final Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment 1: Birds, Marine Mammals, Oysters and Sea Turtles. It includes $99.6 million for 11 restoration projects to be implemented across the Gulf States and offshore waters affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It also targets specific locations in Mexico and on the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Photo: CPRA