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Southwest Louisiana celebrates recent coastal restoration projects

GRAND CHENIER – (PRESS RELEASE) The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Task Force, representing Louisiana’s oldest funding program to fight coastal erosion and restore its wetlands, today celebrated six recent coastal restoration and protection projects located in Cameron, Iberia, and Vermilion parishes.

The Coastal Celebration was held at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier. It included participants from the five federal managing agencies (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, 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), 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. The ceremony highlighted six CWPPRA projects in the Southwest region, including:

• Cameron-Creole Watershed Grand Bayou Marsh Creation (CS54) – Cameron Parish
• Cole’s Bayou Marsh Restoration (TV-63) – Vermilion Parish
• East Marsh Island Marsh Creation (TV-21) – Iberia Parish
• Grand Lake Shoreline Protection (ME-21) – Cameron Parish
• Oyster Bayou Marsh Restoration (CS-59) – Cameron Parish
• Rockefeller Refuge Gulf Shoreline Stabilization (ME-18) – Cameron Parish

“Each project we spotlight today is a truly meaningful project,” said CPRA Executive Director Michael Ellison. “Whether large or small, each one serves an important role in adding to our effort to save, improve or add back the productive ecosystems that make coastal Louisiana such a cherished place.”

Ceremony participants had the unique opportunity to tour the Rockefeller Refuge Gulf Shoreline Stabilization (ME-18) project. At the refuge, the Gulf coastline has been retreating at an average rate of 46 feet per year. To combat this extreme erosion, a 3-mile-long rock breakwater is currently being constructed to halt the loss of land and encourage land-building north of the structure. The project has been 16 years in the making;  multiple breakwater construction materials and designs were tested for effectiveness before the project was ultimately constructed. Area residents have been watching the project closely throughout the years and could finally see it complete this December.

“Rockefeller is one of those special places to so many people. It provides a great resource and incredible memories with our families, not to mention the incredible habitat provided for both local and migratory species,” said Phillip “Scooter” Trosclair, Biologist Program Manager at Rockefeller. Having observed the erosion of the refuge’s coastline over his 25+ years at Rockefeller, Trosclair recognizes that the CWPPRA-funded shoreline protection project is crucial to the refuge’s persistence. “To know that it will be protected for generations is momentous for this area.”

CWPPRA was enacted in 1990 under former U.S. Senators John Breaux and J. Bennett Johnston. Since its inception, the federal act has authorized 218 projects and constructed 113 that have contributed to protecting, creating, or restoring over 100,000 acres of land. The CWPPRA program represents a collaborative effort and is managed by a task force comprised of the State of Louisiana Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities/ Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service.

“A program like CWPPRA doesn’t receive more than $1.5 billion in federal funding over a 28-year period without a proven record of success, such as the creation, restoration or protection of nearly 100,000 acres of land,” stated Col. Michael Clancy, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District. “With the continued commitment of Congress and dedication of the partnering agencies, Louisiana’s oldest coastal restoration program will continue to be one of our best tools in the fight against coastal land loss in Louisiana.”

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