Louisiana’s Largest Marsh Creation Project On Track to 2025 Completion
Louisiana’s largest marsh creation project, which will create approximately 2,800 acres of marshland near Shell Beach, recently received a project update, according to this article from The Advocate.
The Lake Borgne Marsh Creation Project is a $115 million project that began its construction last year and is set to conclude in August 2025. The $115 million is being financed with settlement funds related to the 2010 BP oil spill; however, the federal government will be paying for a separate plan to restore wider wetlands that have been degraded by the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, or MRGO. The Lake Borgne Marsh Creation project is Louisiana’s single largest marsh creation project currently under construction. The area was visited by St. Bernard Parish officials, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) representatives, and members of the Louisiana Legislature in order to gain a perspective on the project’s current level of completion ahead of the Coastal Protection Authority’s annual plan and the update of the state’s 50-year, $50 billion master plan.
Recently, the chair of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Chip Kline, and other state and parish officials were able to visit the Lake Borgne Marsh Creation Project in order to provide an update ahead of the Coastal Protection Authority’s five-decade master plan that is updated every six years. Kline and other state and parish officials were able to visit St. Bernard Parish’s Shell Beach as well as take an airboat ride so that they could survey the eroded marsh that’s located between the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and Lake Borgne.
This specific area has seen drastic erosion and changes over the past few decades thanks to saltwater intrusion, erosion, and subsidence that has been gradually degrading the area. It’s generally understood and accepted that most of Shell Beach’s erosion can be attributed to the MRGO after it fully opened in 1968 as a shipping shortcut from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, this shortcut channel was also labeled as a “hurricane highway”after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, when the channel was responsible for helping expedite the storm surge that hit New Orleans.
One member of the local community, Robbie Campo, spoke about the drastic need for a new marsh environment by saying, “if we don’t do something over here, the lake is going to be into the MRGO. We’re going to lose it all.” Campo’s family operates Campo’s Marina at Shell Beach, and the marina has existed for 120 years, meaning that he has slowly observed the wetlands eroding over his lifetime. While Campo is concerned that the area’s fishing environment will be changed on account of future separate river diversions, he is reportedly relieved to see progress on the new marsh construction.
Thankfully, the $115 million Lake Borgne Marsh Creation Project is set to use approximately 13 million cubic yards of dredged soil to create around 2,800 acres of marsh. It’s estimated that this project, like others of its kind, will have an expected lifespan of 20-30 years. Chip Kline spoke about what Louisiana’s experience with detrimental storms has taught it by saying, “I think one of the greatest lessons that we’ve learned over the last few decades is that a natural buffer is just as important as your hurricane risk reduction system. This natural buffer – our marshes, our wetlands – are helping protect us.”
During the visit, parish and state officials were able to see construction excavators work to build a containment dike and mud berms to hold in sediment. After the tour concluded, a press conference was held, and St. Bernard President Guy McInnis spoke about the project by saying, “it’s all for the resilience of our community, and to keep our culture and our heritage for future generations.”
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