Resurrecting Life at Jesuit Bend

 
A lone excavator prowls the restoration project

As wetlands continue to disappear in droves, restoration efforts remain paramount. Rehabilitating these ecosystems reintroduces countless vibrant species, while simultaneously bolstering wind and floodwater defenses. Lest we forget, wetland mitigation is also required by the Clean Water Act’s policy of ‘no net loss.’

This past Wednesday, GRN visited Plaquemines Parish to witness wetland-building firsthand. Our destination was the Jesuit Bend Mitigation Bank, a 338-acre site and the only project currently creating land from dredged river sediment. Thanks to Restoration Systems LLC, in partnership with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, we were able to travel by car, riverboat, and airboat to see the full, massive scope of this engineering endeavor.

The whole operation is set into motion by a floating behemoth that stirs up sediment some seventy feet below the River’s surface. Once loosened, the muddy mixture is pumped multiple miles downriver via pipeline: underwater, under LA 23, under the levee, and into what used to be open water. Here, workers in heavy equipment massage the material to its desired density and grade. Restoration Systems will soon plant thousands of individual marsh-grass units, ensuring significant surface cover.

Compared to state-funded ventures that tend to foster ecological regrowth slowly over time, the Jesuit Bend Mitigation Bank highlights the private sector’s initiative and capability. An astounding demand exists for regional restoration, yet supply still lags far behind. Thoughtful expediency from third parties could thus go far in forging a sustainable Louisiana. An influx of new mitigation banks would offer wetland-destroying developers improved access to proper ‘in-kind’ and ‘in-place’ restorative options, in contrast to present practices of pursuing whatever is most readily available (and often, cheapest).

While atoning for wetland losses can be quite a murky process, The Army Corps of Engineers hopes to streamline it by introducing the Louisiana Wetland Rapid Assessment Method or ‘LRAM.’ The Corps has been gathering public input on its proposal over the last couple months, and will continue doing so until November 26th. Should you want to comment on this regulatory overhaul, please email Mr. Stephen Pfeffer (Stephen.D.Pfeffer@usace.army.mil).

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock's massive floating dredger
The site itself, transitioning from open water to marshy habitat
Spoonbills coexisting with sediment pipes
A bald eagle perched in her nest
Another bald eagle displaying its majesty
Beautiful, beautiful nature

All photos courtesy of GRN's Scott Eustis and James Hartwell.

James Hartwell is GRN's Coastal Wetland Analyst.

Recent Posts

Since fish species are not generally associated with one single species of coral but are...
Written by Hannah Leis
Friday, 21 July 2017
Hexacorals are the second subclass that contains corals (and if you missed reading about octocorals,...
Written by Hannah Leis
Thursday, 20 July 2017
It’s summertime, and while many Gulf residents are retreating to cooler climes or just doing...
Written by Raleigh Hoke
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
This second post (if you missed the first one it can be found here )...
Written by Hannah Leis
Thursday, 13 July 2017
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell capped off Trump’s “Energy Week” by announcing a new energy...
Written by Natasha Noordhoff
Monday, 10 July 2017
Last August's flood broke the hearts and homes of many in the Baton Rouge area...
Written by Scott Eustis
Monday, 03 July 2017
The fight to stop the Bayou Bridge pipeline continues. Most recently, GRN and a host...
Written by Natasha Noordhoff
Monday, 03 July 2017

Latest Actions

SHARE THIS PAGE