LAFITTE, La., March 30, 2006 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) has been awarded a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to restore 580 acres of coastal marsh habitat in Jefferson Parish, La. The project is estimated to cost $1.33 million and partners will contribute approximately $890,000 which will be matched with $440,000 in NAWCA grant funds to support coastal wetlands restoration efforts.
“This conservation project is another step towards DU’s recent commitment of directing $15 million to coastal restoration in Louisiana,” said Jerry Holden, DU director of conservation programs in Louisiana.
Along the Louisiana coast, thousands of acres of fresh, intermediate and brackish marshes have been degraded by erosion, salt-water intrusion, subsidence and increased turbidity. This problem was accelerated during the last hurricane season. Because of the wetland loss occurring in southeast Louisiana, the shallowly flooded stands of submerged and emergent vegetation that helped sustain millions of wintering ducks and geese have been replaced with large areas of turbid, open water.
“Through implementation of this project, we plan to restore submerged aquatic vegetation that benefits several high priority waterfowl species including mallards, northern pintails, and mottled ducks,” said Holden. “Wetland restoration in southeast Louisiana is critical to maintaining a productive coastal ecosystem, especially since Hurricane Katrina damaged 118 square miles of marsh.”
The Lafitte Terracing Project will positively impact 580 acres of intermediate to brackish coastal marsh. Successful delivery of this project will help ensure that these coastal areas continue to fulfill their historical role as one of the most important wintering and migration habitats in North America for continental populations of waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wetland-dependent migratory birds.
Restoration activities will include construction of earthen terraces on 580 acres of degraded coastal marsh in Jefferson Parish. The terraces will reduce the impact of wind and waves in areas of broken marsh, thus stimulating the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation. In addition, partners will restore 109 acres of marsh through construction of earthen terraces and 12.5 acres of degraded, open-marsh in Jefferson, Lafourche, St. Bernard and Orleans parishes by installing brush fences made from recycled Christmas trees. Brush fences function similarly to marsh terraces and vegetative plantings to create wave-breaks and reduce wave impacts.
“Our partnerships are a critical component of virtually every project DU undertakes,” said Holden. “The Lafitte Terracing Project is no exception. Each of our partners shares a common desire to improve coastal wetland habitats in southeast Louisiana.”
DU will collaborate with a diverse group of federal, state, local and private partners to deliver the Lafitte Terracing Project including Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, North American Wetlands Conservation Council, Camp Club, Inc., Madison Land Company, and USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In Washington, D.C., DU Governmental Affairs staff works with Congress in support of annual funding for NAWCA so we can continue the act’s waterfowl conservation success.
“Louisiana’s congressional delegation has consistently been supportive of funding for NAWCA,” said Scott Sutherland, director of the governmental affairs office. “This month, the seven Louisiana representatives agreed to sign a letter to the House Appropriations Committee in favor of NAWCA funding.”
To date, NAWCA has helped fund more than 1,400 projects on 20 million acres in all 50 states, every province of Canada and areas of Mexico. Thousands of partners, including private landowners, corporations and state governments have worked together to conserve wildlife habitat through NAWCA grants.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.