With construction in progress for the Gulf Shoreline Stabilization Project at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and other partners celebrated last week the work done to minimize coastal erosion in the refuge, located in Cameron and Vermilion parishes.
The project, funded by the Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection Restoration Act (CWPPRA), is a series of breakwaters along the coast of Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. Last week’s gathering highlighted this project along with other CWPPRA funded projects.
One of the sections of the project, dubbed ME-18 and located beginning at Joseph Harbor Outlet moving westward, began in July earlier this year at a cost of $34.3 million.
CWPPRA is federal legislation enacted in 1990 that is designed to identify, prepare and fund construction of coastal wetlands restoration projects. Since its inception, 210 coastal restoration or protection projects have been authorized, benefiting approximately 100,000 acres in Louisiana.
Gathering at last week’s event included participants from CWPPRA's five federal managing agencies (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service), the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), LDWF, state and local representatives and members of the public.
Additionally, ten students from South Cameron High School presented essays and art projects addressing how coastal restoration and protection is personally important to their lives.
Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge is considered an erosional hotspot on Louisiana’s coastline with erosion rates averaging more than 50 feet a year. The refuge manages large marsh impoundments primarily for migrating waterfowl and other neotropical migrants.
“Our coastline must be protected first,” said Scooter Trosclair, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge manager. “We are protecting crucial habitat with this project and we are also safeguarding a vital public use area too.”
Rockefeller is a state wildlife refuge where visitors are allowed to fish in the canal systems and areas surrounding water control structures on the refuge. With more than 200,000 visitors annually, it is the most visited state refuge in Louisiana.
Since Rockefeller’s founding in 1919, the refuge has lost more than 15,000 acres to coastal erosion. The Gulf Shoreline Stabilization Project addresses the rapid rate of land-loss at the refuge with the use of segmented breakwaters.
Before the project was funded, experimental breakwaters were constructed utilizing different types of material. These experimental breakwaters were employed along Rockefeller’s coastline in 2011. These trials were conducted because most sites along Rockefeller’s shoreline cannot support the heavy weight of boulder style breakwaters utilized in other areas.
After testing various models, a specific style of breakwater was selected. Large pillow mats are filled with small, porous rocks called light-weight aggregate rock. These large pillows full of rock are laid as a foundation for the breakwater. The breakwater is then capped with larger rock to absorb wave energy from the Gulf. The pillow mats beneath the breakwater provided a strong enough foundation to stabilize the breakwater without increasing the breakwater’s weight to a point of subsidence.
The project, originally planned for nine miles along Rockefeller’s western coastline, would have cost an estimated $90 million. Current funding from CWPPRA will secure construction for approximately 4-5 miles of Rockefeller’s coastline. Additional funding is being proposed.
For more information about CWPPRA visit lacoast.gov . For more information about Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, visit https://www.rwrefuge.com/shoreline-stabilization or contact Gabe Giffin at firstname.lastname@example.org . Images and video of ME-18 can be found at: https://ldwf.cantoflight.com/v/cwppra/landing
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive recreational or commercial fishing email and text alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.