Earlier today, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank announced $102 million for three Louisiana projects in the Barataria and Terrebone basins, to restore deteriorated wetlands and barrier island habitats along the state’s coast. These awards are funded by the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) program. U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Director Garret Graves and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Project Director Bobby Guichet also participated in the announcement.
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock and Weeks Marine have been contracted to restore beach, dune and marsh on Pelican Island in Plaquemines Parish, and West Belle Pass barrier headland in Lafourche Parish, respectively. The state of Louisiana will receive the third award to rebuild marsh and construct an 11,000-foot long protective ridge in the Bayou Dupont area in Jefferson Parish. The three projects will employ local citizens and generate further economic benefits for local businesses and coastal communities.
At the event, Blank also outlined help the American Jobs Act would provide Louisiana – putting people to work and boosting businesses. The plan would provide a significant new tax cut for small businesses, make major reforms to unemployment insurance to help get more Americans back on the job, and it would put more money in the pockets of Americans by reducing payroll taxes paid by workers.
The Jobs Act would complement the coastal restoration work funded by the awards announced by Blank today.
Louisiana has one of the highest rates of wetlands loss in the world. The Louisiana coastline has deteriorated extensively over the last 80 years, losing more than 420 square miles of wetlands to open water in the Barataria Basin alone.
These losses are largely the result of long-term, man-made changes, including the construction of levees, which have cut off the natural flow of nourishing sediments.
Restoring the wetlands and barrier islands will also increase protection for Louisiana’s people and property, as well as one of America’s richest fisheries. By absorbing hurricane storm surge, rebuilt wetland and barrier island areas will help protect Orleans and Jefferson parishes, two of the top-five most densely populated counties in the Gulf coastal zone.
These three projects continue NOAA’s long-term investment in the Louisiana coastline through the CWPPRA program. Enacted in 1990, CWPPRA has designed and funded 151 coastal restoration or protection projects benefiting more than 110,000 acres in Louisiana.