Two restoration efforts restore 150 acres of vital wetlands
One year ago, the America's WETLAND Foundation (AWF), Resource Environmental Solutions (RES), and global energy producer, BHP, stood where stands of bald cypress once gave definition to swamps of the lower Mississippi Delta and announced their partnership to restore the vital wetlands of Terrebonne Parish.
Today, just in time for Earth Day, the partners are proud to announce the completion of two restoration projects - The Terrebonne Biodiversity and Resiliency Projects at Pointe-aux-Chenes & Bayou Terrebonne. Together the two projects represent a private sector investment of $3.4M dollars that restored 150 acres of wetlands with a annual economic value of $1.2M and other yearly benefits including, 280 tons of carbon sequestered, the elimination of up to 266 pounds of phosphorus and 10,600 pounds of nitrogen to improve water quality in lower Terrebonne Parish.
Just two months ago, more than 160 volunteers participated in Cypress Tree planting in the Pointe-aux-Chenes area south of Houma to help restore 100 acres of an historic Cypress-Tupelo swamp that has succumbed to salt water intrusion and in turn created a threat to low lying communities in Terrebonne Parish and important wildlife habitats. The volunteer planting was made possible with the help of eRotary Coastal.
"Sustaining biodiversity in coastal areas is a reasonable goal for businesses and communities alike," said Selby Bush, Manager, Government Relations, Gulf of Mexico for BHP. "As a company with operations within coastal zones, it is always important to participate with efforts to sustain ecosystems which provide support for all species and a healthy, resilient communities. Our partnership to better the environment in south Louisiana is a sign of our commitment to a sustainable earth. It has allowed us to restore fresh water marshes and wetlands, planting of thousands of Bald Cypress to reconstitute biodiversity."
"Earth Day is recognized once a year but in Louisiana our quest to restore Earth's coast is an everyday battle against time," said Val Marmillion, AWF managing director. "By letting the world know that we lose the equivalent of a football field of land each hour to the rising tide, we become a marker for why everyone must work together to restore our coast so that all enjoy the benefits and resources that healthy the wetlands provide."
"The most rewarding aspect of our industry is to see the dramatic results of our work when newly reforested lands replace the stands of trees left dying by salt water intrusion," said Elliott Bouillion, President & CEO, RES. "Our environment is resilient and our projects demonstrate that we can thrive with nature. We are dedicated to coastal restoration, one acre at a time."
This spirit of hope and dedication to the land that has hosted generations of Louisianans is a big part of AWF's drive to encourage private sector participation and support for restoration projects in its recently announced Louisiana Coastal Exchange (LCX).
The LCX was launched at a statewide summit co-sponsored by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities in November of 2018. The Exchange is an inventory of completed privately funded projects and those available for funding, proposed by local governments or non-profit organizations.
The Pointe-aux-Chenes and Bayou Terrebonne projects are listed on the Exchange, as well as a demonstration project AWF sponsored two years ago that is thriving along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The one-mile embankment stabilization north of LaRose, Louisiana, uses innovative technology with recycled plastics to form a grid for planting native species and holding the line against storm surges and wave attenuation that pulsed salt water into fresh water marshes along the Waterway.
"These projects demonstrate that private industry and organizations can work together for coastal restoration solutions that may not be a part of a larger master plan funded with public dollars," Sidney Coffee, AWF senior advisor, said. "We call projects like the Terrebonne projects transitional. They are necessary for ecosystem stabilization and consistent with state restoration efforts but not prioritized for funding in the plan."
The unique partnership with AWF and the eRotary Coastal Club started with the recent planting. It has moved us into a more involved phase as the club encouraging active involvement of the community in coastal restoration. "We are, first, a service organization dedicated to our communities. To be a part of calling volunteers together for a worthwhile community benefit is part of why we exist. Our e-Rotary Coastal club invites anyone interested in restoring our coast to join in on the effort of a lifetime," e-Rotary Coastal president Charles Gaiennie, said.
About The America's WETLAND Foundation
The America's WETLAND Foundation manages the largest, most comprehensive public education campaign in Louisiana's history, raising public awareness of the impact of Louisiana's wetland loss on the state, nation and world. The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetlands protection as a key to economic growth. For more information, visit www.americaswetland.com.