UPDATE: June 23, 2013.
Habitat restoration project underway in Bayou St. John
By AMY WOLD | Advocate staff writer
Water quality improvements and habitat restoration as well as service as an educational tool seem like a heavy load of responsibility for a half-acre marsh restoration project, but that’s what the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is building on Bayou St. John.
It’s not a huge project, but it’s a great location, said John Lopez, executive director of the foundation.
Work to improve the quality of the bayou running along the edge of City Park in New Orleans has been going on for more than 10 years, he said. Residents of the area, the foundation and others have been working to reconnect this historic bayou with the lake, and recently, some important progress has been achieved.
In December, an old flood-control structure was removed to help facilitate water flow from Lake Pontchartrain to the bayou for the first time in decades, thanks to money and work provided by the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others.
A newer flood-control structure has been operating on the bayou for about 20 years and the old one wasn’t needed, or even working properly.
Now, in a separate but connected project, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is starting to use material dredged from the bayou to build a half-acre of marsh on the lake side of the control structure.
We think it will recruit species into the bayou, Lopez said. It also benefits Lake Pontchartrain.
The concrete seawall that runs along the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain means there’s no longer a marsh fringe that provides habitat for young aquatic species, such as fish and crabs, he said. Creating some new marsh in this area sets up something unique on the south shore, he said.
We think it will enhance the fisheries and ecology of the lake, Lopez said. It’s not a huge marsh, but it’s a rare habitat now.
There is dredging work underway as part of a water quality project at the bayou. The work is designed to help open up a channel that has silted in. Some of that dredged material will be used to fill large bags, a little larger than typical sandbags.
The bags will be stacked and secured to form the outline of where the material dredged from the bayou will be deposited to create the new marsh area. The next step calls for other dredge material to be pumped into the area between this retaining wall and the bulkhead onshore by Anders Construction, the same company doing the channel dredging, Lopez said.
It’s an opportunity for Environmental Management Solutions LLC, also known as EMS Green, to showcase its Deltalok technology while helping to create the marsh platform.
For the past three years, we’ve been working diligently to get on some of these coastal projects,â€ said one of the group’s three partners, Jay Loprano. Although EMS Green has done a few self-funded projects, this will be the first time the company will be building a project for another party, he said.
The ultimate funding goal is for the foundation to raise $100,000 to cover the cost of the project’s construction and maintenance while also developing educational programs, which could help demonstrate marsh restoration and ecology.
On Friday, the foundation received a $68,000 donation from Kinder Morgan, a company working with the foundation as it builds a pipeline across Lake Pontchartrain.
There are some other financial commitments that have been made, Lopez said, but the Kinder Morgan gift is by far the largest received to date and will help cover construction and maintenance for a few years.
The Restore the Earth Foundation will be working with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation this fall in planting the newborn marsh area with grasses to help hold everything in place.
In the meantime, the foundation is looking for volunteers to help out with the project in the coming weeks so as to keep construction costs down.
For instance, anyone who is able to do heavy manual labor, such as moving 40-pound sandbags, is asked to contact the foundation at saintjohnwetland@….
The work should be completed, weather permitting, in four to six weeks.
Click the link below to donate to the
Bayou St. John Wetland Creation Project
The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) is excited to announce the Bayou Saint John Wetland Creation Project, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build ½ acre of native marsh in the city of New Orleans. LPBF is a non-profit group that has been working for southeast Louisiana’s people and environment since 1989 under the banner, “Save Our Lake, Save Our Coast.” http://saveourlake.org
We came up with the plan to build wetlands as an add-on to a dredging project that was already scheduled for this spring. This opportunity came up quickly, and we have scrambled to draft plans, secure permits, and find partners before construction starts in mid-May 2013.
We are reaching out to everyone who loves New Orleans and cares about the vanishing Louisiana coast. Together we can rebuild a patch native habitat and bring some nature back to the Big Easy.
To learn more about the project, visit: http://saveourlake.org/PDF-documents/our-coast/BSJ/BSJ-Wetland-Project-May2013.pdf
What we need:
We feel so strongly about this project that we committed to it without having all funding in place. We are raising money to cover construction costs, and then to fund ongoing maintenance and monitoring. If we raise more than we need for immediate costs, we will do more scientific research and add signage, wildlife viewing access and other improvements. Our ultimate goal is to make the Bayou St. John marsh a destination for education, recreation, bird watching and fishing.
This project will give lots of benefit for relatively low cost. Since it piggybacks on an existing dredge project, the earth moving is free. Construction uses all local materials and new technology that is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. Several partners are providing material and technical support, including the Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Restore the Earth Foundation.
Why are we so excited about this project?
Building wetlands where there is now a concrete wall will benefit the local wildlife, the city’s residents and visitors, and the imperiled Louisiana coast.
•Improves aquatic habitat for fish, crab and waterfowl.
•Traps sediment and improves water quality.
•Protects adjacent bulkhead and levee.
•Enhances the historic urban waterway and the Lafitte Corridor.
•Provides a living classroom and wildlife viewing in an urban area.
•Demonstrates new nature-based technologies that can help restore the Louisiana coast.
Every dollar donated will go directly into constructing, maintaining and enhancing these wetlands, and then studying them scientifically and developing them as a resource. This is an opportunity to help build something tangible that you can visit to experience nature in the city. The habitat you help build will support more birds for you to see and fish for you to catch.
Please consider helping build the Bayou Saint John wetlands. Tell everyone who loves New Orleans about this opportunity to restore its environment and support its culture.
New wetlands near mouth of Bayou St. John will lead to more fish in area
Todd Masson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is planning to install two sections of wetlands near the mouth of Bayou St. John that will provide nursery grounds for fish in the historic bayou.
The project is part of an on-going effort to improve water quality in Bayou St. John and reconnect it with Lake Pontchartrain.
The Orleans Levee Board has already removed a dysfunctional gate near Robert E. Lee, and will next week begin dredging the bayou north of that site. As part of the foundation’s plan, the dredged material will be placed into Deltalok bags that will stabilize the shoreline and provide the base for the new wetlands.
“It’s going to be very cool,” the foundation’s John Lopez said. “Anglers will be able to cruise the dredged channel in a kayak, and cast to the wetlands along the bank.”
The constructed wetlands will be on either side of the bayou between the current water-control structure and the Lakeshore Drive bridge.
The water-control structure has sluice gates that will allow water to flow through once the channel is dredged, but the large gates currently remain closed. Lopez said that will change soon.
“The gates will be opened as long as a storm isn’t threatening, and we believe we’ll see recruitment of fish, crabs and shrimp into the bayou,” he said.
The new wetlands will give the juvenile fish, baitfish and crustaceans a place to grow, Lopez said.
“It will be a lot more productive than if you had just flat mud banks,” he said.
Andy Baker, a coastal program scientist for the foundation, agreed.
“This is going to lead to a noticeable improvement of fishing in the bayou,” he said.
The foundation is hoping to raise money to complete the project. Lopez said the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has already purchased the Deltalok bags, but it will cost $28,000 to pay the contractor doing the dredging to fill them.
“We have a good bit of that, but we’re looking to raise the rest,” Lopez said. There is also a cost to maintain the wetlands.
Dredging the bayou and filling the bags should be completed within the next few weeks, Lopez said, but the major part of the wetlands planting won’t occur until October. He said the soil needs time to compact, and the plants will do better if they’re placed in the ground during the cool months of the year.
The foundation has created a website to receive donations from residents who support the project. The address is www.indiegogo.com/projects/bayou-st-john-wetland-creation-project.