SW La. needs federal restoration funding

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, December 24, 2014

In less than a month, Southwest Louisiana officials will find out whether $88.1 million in coastal restoration projects will be approved for federal funding under the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act.

The CWPPRA task force last week recommended three projects that would benefit the Cameron Parish coastline be at the top of the 24th project priority list. Until then, Southwest Louisiana coastal projects had never been recommended at the top of the funding list, according to local officials.

Officials are encouraged by the move, especially since they have repeatedly mentioned how quickly the state’s coastline is eroding. One said the size of land loss is comparable to a football field every half hour.

One recommended project would create and nourish more than 530 acres of marsh at No Name Bayou for the Calcasieu-Sabine watershed. The projected $28.3 million project was recommended as No. 1 for engineering and design work funding. The project also calls for building a 16.5-mile levee along Calcasieu Lake and control structures to prevent saltwater intrusion.

Marsh creation at Oyster Bayou and the Cameron-Creole watershed Grand Bayou were the top two recommended projects for construction funding. The estimated $31.2 million Oyster Bayou project would create 510 acres of saline marsh and nourish 90 existing acres of marsh.

The estimated $28.7 million Cameron-Creole project would include dredging 3 million cubic yards of material from Calcasieu Lake and creating marsh in two areas north of Grand Bayou. With that effort, more than 600 acres of brackish marsh would be restored, and seven existing acres would be nourished.

While it’s too soon to tell what the committee’s final decision will be, officials are certainly hoping the panel sticks by its recommendations. After all, protecting Cameron Parish’s shoreline is a critical element in helping safeguard Calcasieu Parish from potential storm surge that a major hurricane can bring.

The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said two years ago that Louisiana has lost more than 1,800 square miles of coast since the 1930s and has endured flood damages totaling $3 billion. If projects like these don’t get the funding they need, the valuable coastline in Southwest Louisiana will not have the protection it needs and could continue to erode.(American Press Archives)