For Immediate Release: Dec. 10, 2009
Contact: Chris Macaluso
*****Please Note, this press release was originally released by the Louisiana Governor's Office and is also published on www.gov.louisiana.gov*****
Governor Bobby Jindal Calls for Corps to Start Building on Morganza, Announces New Coastal Restoration Projects & Recent Completions
HOUMA - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal held a press conference in Houma to highlight the state's historic investment in coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects in the Terrebonne Parish area, and call on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use funding appropriated by Congress to join the state, parish and levee district in the construction of the lock on the Houma Navigation Canal to stop storm surge and saltwater intrusion.
Governor Jindal highlighted the recent completion of the Lake Mechant project, the largest coastal restoration project in Terrebonne Parish history and he announced upcoming restoration and protection efforts for Terrebonne Parish that will begin in 2010. He also announced the completion of the new Bird Island II Reef project and the Point Mast Reef rehabilitation project - both located in Lake Pelto, south of Terrebonne Parish. Governor Jindal was joined by Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chair Garret Graves to highlight additional projects currently under construction that will provide better storm protection throughout coastal Louisiana.
Calling on Corps to Join Proactive State Efforts on Morganza to the Gulf Project
Governor Jindal announced that the state officially requested today that the Corps of Engineers join the state, parish and levee district on the construction of the authorized and funded Morganza to the Gulf project.
In January this year, Governor Jindal announced a $195 million commitment of state and local funds combined to build the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection System - a 70-mile system of levees, a lock and floodgates that will protect vulnerable areas of Terrebonne and western Lafourche Parishes from hurricane storm surges. Today, the Governor announced that this commitment now stands at over $250 million after the recent legislative session and with additional federal, state and local funds, which is the largest non-federal hurricane protection project in state history and will result in the building of the first lift of three-fourths of the system. This $250 million investment will be enough to heighten 75 percent of the levee for the first "lift portion" for Terrebonne Parish.
Construction of a three-mile section of the Morganza System near Chauvin began in January of 2009 and is expected to be completed by the middle of 2010. These funds will also build more than seven miles of levees in the Dulac area; more than seven miles of levees in lower Chauvin; more than six miles of levees to protect Upper Chauvin and Montegut; and more than five miles in Montegut to tie into a completed section in Point-aux-Chenes.
Out of the total investment, $43 million is committed to building the centerpiece of the system - a lock on the Houma Navigation Canal that will protect this area from storm surges and regulate freshwater in the system.
Governor Jindal said, "Even after all of our state and local funding commitments, and after the project was authorized for construction by Congress three times - in 2000, a portion in 2003, and again in 2007 - the Corps has decided to conduct another analysis of the project until December of 2012. Our communities, our businesses and our people cannot wait this long. After repeated flooding in recent years and hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA claims in Terrebonne Parish following storm damage, we are asking the federal government to join our proactive strategy."
He added, "Today, Garret Graves is sending a letter to the Corps asking them to use funds already provided by Congress to expedite projects like Morganza and immediately join the state in the construction of the lock on the Houma navigation canal to provide both flood protection and ecosystem restoration benefits."
Please click here to read the letter sent by Graves to the Corps.
Historic Completion of Lake Mechant Project
Governor Jindal announced that just a few weeks ago, in late November, the construction was completed on a $39 million project that rebuilt and enhanced more than 902 acres north of Lake Mechant, which is about 20 miles southwest of Houma. The project was built by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act.
The Governor said this project restored and enhanced deteriorating wetlands on the north shore of Lake Mechant on a critical land bridge that separates saltwater coming in from the Gulf of Mexico from brackish and freshwater wetlands in the north. The work raised elevations, restored eroded shorelines, encouraged the growth of native vegetation and enhanced wildlife habitat. The restored land bridge will help to protect communities like Theriot, Dulac, and Houma from storm surges during hurricanes and tropical storms.
This project's completion comes on the heels of another $30 million CWPPRA project that built more than 300 acres of marsh and 13,000 feet of beach and dunes at Whiskey Island in Terrebonne Parish as well as another 200 acres of marsh that was built in Lake Boudreaux through CWPPRA last December.
New Projects to begin in 2010 for Terrebonne
At the press conference, the Governor announced three new coastal protection projects for the Terrebonne region totaling approximately $30 million that will begin in next year to restore the coast and provide additional storm protection:
• A $3.8 million CWPPRA project to build shoreline protection along the south shore of Lake DeCade. The Lake DeCade project is part of an overall effort to improve the health of the marshes near the south shore of Lake DeCade. The shoreline of the lake is eroding, exposing marshes to the south to wave action that can wash away and destroy fragile wetlands. The project will build 1.6 miles of rock protection in the lake to keep the wave action from eroding the shoreline and the marsh. Healthier marshes and protected shorelines slow down saltwater intrusion and reduce storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes.
• A $17.6 million CWPPRA project to improve water flow and improve the health of freshwater marshes in and around Lake Penchant. The Penchant Basin Natural Resources plan is a $17.6 million effort to restore the natural hydrology of the area and improve the health of the surrounding marshes. The area around Lake Penchant, which is about 15 miles southwest of Houma, has been negatively affected by hurricanes, saltwater intrusion and man-made canals that have changed water flow in the area and contributed to erosion. The project involves the building of shoreline protection on area bayous and canals, flood gates and drains to help move more freshwater into marshes southeast of the lake that are being eroded and killed by saltwater intrusion.
• An $8 million project to repair shorelines along the Intracoastal Waterway west of Houma to prevent wave action from damaging adjacent marsh being constructed with funds from the Coastal Impact Assistance Plan (CIAP). The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Bank Restoration of Critical Areas of Terrebonne project will use $8 million in CIAP funds to construct rock shorelines along parts of the south shore of the canal west of Houma that have eroded from boat wakes and other wave action. The eroded shoreline has exposed freshwater marshes to the wave action, causing them to erode and turn into open water, eliminating fish and wildlife habitat. The open water encourages more wave action, which causes further erosion.
Bird Island II Reef Completion
Governor Jindal also announced at the event today the completion of the new Bird Island II Reef project and the Point Mast Reef rehabilitation project located in Lake Pelto, south of Terrebonne Parish.
Governor Jindal said, "These man-made reefs will provide recreational fisherman with even more opportunities to catch all different types of fish. Our reputation as a Sportsman's Paradise is well deserved - and we're taking steps everyday to make sure folks around the world know of the treasures that lie in Louisiana's coasts, rivers, lakes and bayous."
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Secretary Robert Barham said, "By working with our state and federal partners we can continue to ensure that Louisiana remains the Sportsman's Paradise. Our department is excited and plans to continue finding ways to create fishing opportunities, while providing more habitats for our bountiful fisheries."
The establishment of Bird Island II reef marks the 23rd inshore artificial reef created since the beginning of the Artificial Reef program established in 1986 to provide habitats important to many of Louisiana's coastal fish species.
John Walther, volunteer coordinator of Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) - Louisiana's reef building and restoration program, presented a plaque to Governor Jindal today commemorating the construction of the reefs in Lake Pelto as well as the state's ongoing commitment to improving fisheries habitat throughout Louisiana's coastal lakes, bays and marshes.
"The artificial reefs CCA has helped build along with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and other state agencies are big hits with fishermen," said CCA-Louisiana President Gus Schram. "These new close-to-shore reefs are very popular with many anglers who can now find good fishing opportunities without having to travel out long distances in larger boats."
Of the $11 million in hurricane Katrina and Rita Disaster Recovery funds committed to recreational fisheries, LDWF allocated $670,000 to these artificial reef projects. The Bird Island II Reef was created over a 7 to 10 day period by deploying 4,700 tons of ping pong-sized crushed limestone at the reef sites. Once the limestone is deployed, the structure simulates living and relic shell reefs which were once prevalent in the basin system. The material provides hard bottom materials for bottom-dwelling organisms to settle and grow on, and provides areas that are utilized by a wide variety of estuarine fishes and invertebrates.
The two-acre reef will provide recreational fishing opportunities for sport fish including trout, redfish, drum and flounder. In addition to the creation of the new Bird Island II Reef, stones were used to rehabilitate the Point Mast Reef damaged in the storms of 2005 and 2008.
The Bird Island II reef was constructed adjacent to LDWF's popular Bird Island Reef built in partnership with Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) in 2002. These three Lake Pelto reefs are easily accessible by boat from Cocodrie.
Historic Investments in Coastal Efforts
On investing historic amounts in hurricane protection and coastal restoration projects, Governor Jindal said, "Since taking office, we've been aggressively pursuing strategies and solutions to speed up coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects. This year, we are on track to have the lowest rate of wetlands loss in decades and the highest percentage of our citizens living and working behind hurricane protection projects. These investments are VITAL to our state - not only for the protection of our land and property, but most importantly for the safety of our citizens."
Governor Jindal stressed that the restoration of our coasts and the strengthening of our coastal protection systems are especially important in Terrebonne Parish - home to one of the fastest growing economies and lowest unemployment rates in the nation. State, local and federal dollars committed to hurricane protection and coastal restoration projects in Terrebonne Parish exceed $400 million and include more than 20 projects.
In total, including CWPPRA, CIAP and state surplus funds, the state will spend more than $778 million on coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts in 2010 alone. Governor Jindal has invested a total of nearly $1.5 billion in coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts across coastal Louisiana since taking office.
If you need additional information, please call Chris Macaluso in The Governor's Office of Coastal Activities at (225) 342-3968 or email at email@example.com.
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshaling the expertise and resources of the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.