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Aerial image of small crescent shaped island. Waves crash into beachfront with marsh behind
Information icon Aerial view of the north end of North Breton Island. Photo by USFWS

Massive restoration project begins on North Breton Island

Breton Island supports one of the largest water bird colonies and brown pelican rookeries in Louisiana

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is pleased to announce the start of restoration work on North Breton Island as the first of 5.87 million cubic yards of dredged sand is placed on the island. This project will add 400 acres of barrier island wildlife habitat to address some of the injuries to birds caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The project was approved in 2014 as one of the three components of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Phase III Early Restoration Louisiana Outer Coast Project.

North Breton Island is one of the most important barrier islands in Louisiana. It provides habitat for one of the largest water bird colonies in the state, including one of the largest rookeries for brown pelicans. The island also provides crucial protections for mainland Louisiana, including the City of New Orleans, from storm surge and wave impacts.
President Theodore Roosevelt – the Conservation President – understood the importance and value of this vulnerable habitat and established the series of islands, including North Breton, as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1904. Breton is the second oldest refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

To accomplish this project, the Service awarded a contract for $54.9 million to Callan Marine LTD. Callan Marine will pump up to 5.87 million cubic yards of sand onto Breton’s beaches, dunes and marshes. If restoration does not occur, North Breton will continue to erode and eventually become a completely submerged shoal.

“Breton is a special and unique place that is tremendously important to water birds and nesting birds,” said, Leo Miranda-Castro, Regional Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s South-Atlantic Gulf and Mississippi Basin Regional Office. “If the island disappears, it will dramatically impact coastal bird habitat. This project will help Breton continue providing vital habitat for our vulnerable bird colonies for generations to come.”

Sand for the project will come from the Gulf floor three miles away from the island and will be placed on the north end of the island first. This area contains mangroves providing valuable brown pelican habitat. Callan Marine will work from north to south, likely completing the project in late spring 2021. For more information, see the Phase III Early Restoration Louisiana Outer Coast Project and the Breton National Wildlife Refuge.

The Service has worked to implement or co-implement 31 restoration projects ranging in types of restoration from coastal dunes to birds to fish. Funding sources include NRDA, RESTORE and the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund with total project funding at $466 million. There are many entities involved in this important work, and more information may be found on the Department of the Interior’s Deepwater Horizon page.

For staff testimonials and on-the-ground visuals of North Breton Island please view our Breton Island video.

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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