Chenier Plain receives NAWCA funding

North American Wetland Conservation Act funding to enhance Cameron Parish wetlands

While Ducks Unlimited’s fundraising teams work diligently to raise money to support our conservation work, the job of the conservation team is to multiply those dollars through public funding mechanisms such as applying for competitive grants.

Since the start of 2020, DU staff have submitted seven new grant proposals for conservation work in south Louisiana. In total, DU requested nearly $5.7 million in public funding for future projects.

Four proposals we submitted for North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) funding; two in February and two in July, for a total NAWCA request of $5 million. The two proposals submitted in February were selected for funding while the two submitted in July are pending a decision this winter by the NAWCA Council.

One project that will benefit from $1 million of the NAWCA funding is the Chenier Plain Marsh Enhancement, which includes the enhancement of 3,800 acres on two tracts of land. Project partners include Cameron Parish Police Jury, Cameron Parish Gravity Drainage District, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Cameron Parish School Board, Greg Naquin and DU.

The first tract of land is south of Oak Grove, La., in Cameron Parish and will benefit 3,235 acres of brackish marsh through the replacement of two 30-year-old water-control structures. The new structures will restore marsh management capabilities and improve drainage during high water and/or heavy rainfall events.

The project will enable periodic drawdowns and salinity control that will provide shallow water habitat, increase plant diversity, reduce interior marsh degradation, promote growth of aquatic vegetation and allow for flooding and draining of the marsh when applicable.

Improved management capabilities will enhance marsh quality and benefit a wide variety of resident, migratory and wintering species of shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species.

This tract is owned by numerous private landowners and is managed by the Cameron Parish Gravity Drainage District.

Work on the second tract of land will enhance 565 acres of coastal marsh near Grand Chenier, La., in Cameron Parish via the construction of earthen terraces, segmented, linear marsh islands constructed in shallow, open water areas using excavators and onsite dredge material.

The project area was healthy marsh but has deteriorated to mostly open water as a result of subsidence, saltwater intrusion, wave-induced erosion and altered hydrology. To stabilize the marsh, DU will construct and plant approximately 15,700 linear feet of earthen terraces. The terraces constructed for this project will help improve water quality, promote growth of aquatic vegetation, protect surrounding marshes and inland areas, lessen erosion, counteract impacts of relative sea level rise, serve as storm surge buffers and provide valuable habitat for fish and wildlife communities. This tract is owned by the Cameron Parish School Board.