This Wetland was built by the Law, the River, and the Dredge

I suppose it’s easy to forget the importance of the law. Here at GRN, we are dedicated to uniting and empowering people to protect our natural resources, usually by asking companies and governments to follow and to enforce the laws that ensure we have clean water and healthy wetlands. Wetlands are our shelter and the source of much of our food in Louisiana; they also perform many ecosystem functions we could not live without (not to mention carbon sequestration against climate change). And they are naturally beautiful, as Lauren Sullivan’s pictures reveal. That is why it’s so disappointing when our elected officials play “PR firm,” and mouth the talking points of corporations without considering the consequences to their people. Letting companies cut and run from our coast is how Louisiana got into this crisis in the first place.The marsh restoration project in the Birdfoot Delta in these pictures only happened because Chevron was forced by the law of the United States, to pay for US Fish and Wildlife to build land. Because Chevron spilled oil in Delta National Wildlife Refuge, and destroyed wetlands, our law forced them to pay for a river diversion with marsh terraces. These components work together in one project. I visited the site last winter, when it had only begun to grow; but now it’s flourishing with the river’s nourishment.This site shows that the river, restored well under the right conditions, can succeed in building land quickly. On the bottom left of the map to the left is the cut that puts the river back into this marsh. the NW/SE bars are the dredged terraces — cheap, fragile method of marsh creation when not bolstered with the river. Together, the Law, the River, and the Dredge have built land. Enjoy the fruits of government action to uphold the public interest. Photos by Lauren Sullivan, flight by Richie Blink. Winter 2013-14 Kite Photography showing the relative amount of shallow open water, compared to the dredged marsh creation. Summer 2014. Here, the terraces directly in front of the crevasse cut slow down river sediment, forming a braided deltaic channel between the diversion cut and the terrace.Locations of dredged terraces can still be identified by the roseau cane (Phragmites) and Spartina that colonized them and was planted on them. Other native vegetation has rapidly taken advantaged of river-deposited sediment.The terrace field can still be seen among the blooming land. The borrow pits for the terraces are the only remaining open water. Scott Eustis, M.S. is GRN’s Coastal Wetland Specialist. all thanks to Lauren Sullivan, LSU, and Richie Blink, pilot.

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