Ducks Unlimited is working to restore 2,550 acres of coastal marsh approximately 2.5 miles northeast of Buras, Louisiana. The project will combine coastal restoration techniques of marsh terraces and crevasses to optimize sediment capture from the Mississippi River.
Wetlands adjacent to the Mississippi River have suffered extensive deterioration over the past century. Historically, the Mississippi River had many distributary channels that connected nutrient and sediment rich waters of the river with marshes of the Barataria and Breton Sound Basins. The river also overtopped its banks during flood events, which helped nourish the surrounding marshes with sediment. However, due to flood control and navigation needs, federal efforts to contain the river with levees were initiated in the late 1800s and continue to this day. The containment of the river, coupled with other sources of wetland loss (i.e., subsidence, shoreline erosion, salt water intrusion, etc.), have had detrimental impacts to the marshes flanking the river.
This project area is located south of the Mississippi River flood control levee system and is still hydrologically connected to the river. Thus, it is an ideal location to enhance river water distribution to create wetlands. This project will restore and enhance 2,550 acres by converting open water into various habitat types, including mud/sand flats, shallow water ponds, aquatic vegetation beds, and emergent marsh. It will also nourish existing marshes within the project area.
Ducks Unlimited will clean out multiple waterways to enhance hydrology and divert Mississippi River sediment laden water into the Bay Denesse and Quarantine Bay areas to restore and enhance emergent marsh habitat, increase habitat diversity, and increase wetland productivity. Approximately 140,000 cubic yards of material will be excavated to create sediment delivery channels or "crevasses." These channels will be approximately 65' wide by -8' deep. This project will also include the construction of earthen terraces within open water areas to help reduce shoreline erosion, reduce turbidity, increase emergent and submerged aquatic vegetation, and trap sediment being transported via river water. The terraces will be planted with appropriate marsh vegetation post-construction.
The project will improve habitat for shorebirds, wading birds, colonial seabirds, and secretive marsh birds and provide ideal foraging and loafing habitat for wintering waterfowl. The terraces and increased emergent marsh will provide nesting and brood rearing habitat for mottled ducks and secretive marsh birds.
Approximately 75% of this proposal benefits public lands (2,035 acres) which are owned by the state of Louisiana and managed by the State Lands Office. These lands are open to the public for fishing, hunting, and other wetland related recreation. Partners on the $1.2-million project include Ducks Unlimited, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, National Wildlife Federation, Cajun Fishing Adventures, Chevron, Phillips 66, North American Wetlands Conservation Council and Gulf Coast Initiative sponsors.