Coastal Ecosystem Restoration
Terraces created in open water to encourage marsh creation in Sabine National Wildlife Refuge west of Hackberry, LA. Photo Credit: USFWS
Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Restoration Activities
Louisiana supports over 45 percent of the intertidal wetlands in the lower 48 states, but has suffered over 90 percent of the coastal wetland loss in the nation. Current LA coastal wetland loss equals 16.4 square miles/year (10,500 acres/year; Barras et al. 2008). This loss rate equals 9,500 football fields annually or one football field every 55 seconds. Between 1932 and 2000, an estimated 1.2 million acres (1,875 square miles) of LA's coastal wetlands were lost; an estimated 448,000 additional acres (700 square miles) are projected to be lost through 2050 (Louisiana Coastal Wetland Conservation and Restoration Task Force and Wetland Conservation and Restoration Authority 1998). The LA Gulf coast ecosystem supports over 20 percent of the 14 wintering species of waterfowl, 75 percent of LA's commercial fish and shellfish species, and produces 20 percent of the total seafood harvested in the U.S.
To protect and restore LA's coast, the LA Ecological Services (LA ES) works with other agencies in the following Congressionally mandated programs; (1) the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) of 1990, (2) the State's Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP; Energy Act of 2005), (3) the Near-Term Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration Study (LCA, Water Resources Development Act 2007), and (4), the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Program (LACPR).
CWPPRA established a Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force (Task Force), with representatives of the Corps (Chair), EPA, Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and the Governor to implement restoration projects in coastal LA to help alleviate coastal land loss. CWPPRA has annually provided from $40 to greater than $80 million in Federal Funding for small- and medium-scale coastal restoration projects from revenues from the Sport Fisheries Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. From 1991 to January 2012, the Task Force has approved 187 restoration projects to protect and restore more than 111,000 net acres, enhance another 420,500 acres (total of 532,000 acres) costing $1.3 billion. One hundred and two projects have been constructed or are in construction. The Task Force completed a detailed LA Coastal Wetlands Restoration Plan (1993) and updated it (Coast 2050 Plan) in 1998. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through the LA Field Office, in 2012 is implementing 29 CWPPRA projects (18,500 net acres/135,000 total benefited acres/ $197 M).
The LA ES office Field Supervisor represents the DOI on the CWPPRA Task Force. The LA ES office staff chairs one of four Regional Planning Teams and the Environmental Work Group, and provides representatives for the Technical Committee, Planning and Evaluation Subcommittee, and other CWPPRA working groups (Environmental, Engineering, and Monitoring Work Groups). The coastal ecosystem restoration program staff provides input to the CWPPRA program based on the coastal restoration strategies below. The LA ES assisted in the development of the Coast 2050 Strategies used to develop and select restoration projects thus providing a key role in the evaluation of project benefits.
The field office assisted the Corps in the development of the $1.9 Billion LCA Near-term Ecosystem Restoration Plan (WRDA of 2007), and is now assisting in its implementation. The LCA would complement CWPPRA by implementing 15 near-term critical restoration projects, beneficial use of maintenance dredged material projects, demonstration projects, a Science and Technology Board, and several long-term studies.
In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Congress authorized the Corps to develop the comprehensive LA Coastal Protection and Restoration plan (LACPR), and to provide a Final Technical Report to Congress by December 2008. The Comprehensive LACPR Plan would include a coastal wetland restoration plan, plus combinations of levees and non-structural alternatives to reduce damages resulting from 100-year, 400-year, and 1,000-year storm events.
The LA Field Office, in its Strategic Habitat Conservation Plan, is implementing the following coastal restoration goals and strategies.
Goal 1: Plan, Design, and Implement Sustainable LA Coastal Restoration Projects.
- Plan, support, design, and implement freshwater and sediment diversion restoration projects. Support the wise use of Mississippi and Atchafalaya River sediments whenever possible.
- Plan, support, design, and implement projects (e.g., marsh restoration in outfall areas) which provide synergy with freshwater and sediment diversions to enhance their sustainability.
- Plan, support, and implement other projects that emphasize sustainable restoration techniques (e.g., sediment trapping and marsh restoration).
- Support the development and implementation of new sustainable restoration technologies.
Goal 2: Plan, Support and Implement Coastal Restoration Projects in Areas of Greatest Need and Opportunity.
- Plan, support, and implement restoration projects in LA coastal basins of greater wetland loss (Terrebonne and Barataria basins), and secondarily basins with the greatest recent hurricane-caused land loss (Mermentau, Breton Sound, Calcasieu-Sabine, and Pontchartrain).
- Seek opportunities to collaborate with other partners/programs to maximize restoration benefits (e.g., leveraged funding from Corps maintenance dredging activities).
Goal 3: Coordinate with Internal and External Partners to Implement Coastal Restoration Projects.
- Coordinate with Federal, State, and local governments to develop and implement restoration projects to benefit public lands [e.g., NWRs, National Parks, State Refuges, and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)].
- Coordinate with private coastal landowners to implement restoration projects in areas of need on private property.
- Coordinate restoration project development with other appropriate LA ES programs [Endangered Species, Contaminants, Conservation Planning (Federal Permits), and Federal Projects programs] and other natural resource agencies.
Goal 4: Promote the use of Sound Science in Developing and Evaluating Coastal Restoration Projects.
- Use accepted habitat evaluation techniques, monitoring information, and other technologies (e.g., ecological modeling, hydrologic modeling, etc.) to develop and evaluate coastal restoration project benefits.
- Coordinate with the research community to assist in project development and evaluation.
- Use the principles of adaptive management to assist in developing, evaluating, and managing coastal restoration projects.
For more information email or call Darryl Clark at 337.291.3100.