By David Jacobs | The Center Square
Louisiana will receive $234.6 million of Deepwater Horizon settlement money for wetlands restoration projects in Plaquemines, Terrebonne and St. Bernard parishes, officials said Monday.
The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group has approved plans totaling more than $900 million this year, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Chip Kline said.
“Today’s announced projects further our ongoing efforts to restore the natural resource damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and will also provide a measure of protection as we seek to restore the natural ecosystem buffer we once had,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
The Bayou Terrebonne Increment of the Terrebonne Basin Ridge and Marsh Creation Project, the most expensive of the projects announced Monday, has been allocated $157 million for restoration, maintenance and monitoring of up to 1,430 acres of brackish and saline marsh and 80 acres of earthen ridge on the eastern side of Bayou Terrebonne, south of Chauvin.
Another $3.1 million will be used for engineering and design of the Terrebonne Houma Navigation Channel Island Restoration project, which is intended to restore and enlarge the bird nesting island located about four miles southeast of Cocodrie. The effort will focus on ways to restore the 32-acre bird island and enlarge it to about 50 acres by importing dredged sediment and depositing it on and around the existing island.
The Grande Cheniere Ridge Marsh Creation project is approved for $65 million in construction funding to build up to 624 acres of marsh in open water near Bayou Grande Cheniere and about 12,480 linear feet of earthen ridge along Jefferson Canal, while also helping to reestablish a southern land bridge in the Barataria Basin.
The Bird’s Foot Delta Hydrologic Restoration project in Plaquemines Parish is receiving $6 million for engineering and design. The project is intended to restore the hydrology in the Mississippi River Bird’s Foot Delta by dredging portions of Pass-a-Loutre, South Pass, and/or Southeast Pass to reconnect the river with the delta’s marshes.
Another $3.5 million is going toward engineering and designing Isle au Pitrein St. Bernard Parish. This project is intended to enhance nesting conditions for birds by using dredged sediment to elevate portions of the island and planting suitable vegetation for nesting brown pelicans and wading birds, shell rakes for American oystercatchers, shell or small limestone on the perimeter of the island for tern and black skimmer nesting habitat, and shoreline protection features with oyster benefits.
CPRA is lead trustee for Louisiana on the LA TIG, which also includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 led to what is considered the largest marine oil spill in history. Eleven workers died, and the owners and operators of the rig – BP, Andarko, Transocean and Halliburton – were ordered to pay $20.8 billion to settle civil and criminal claims, according to NOAA.