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Wednesday, December 4, 2019



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Planning of restoration projects around Port Fourchon moves forward

Planning of restoration projects around Port Fourchon moves forward

With the receipt of a $500,000 grant, Port Fourchon and a Baton Rouge-based research nonprofit will move forward with the second phase of their coastal project.

With plans to dredge the waterways near Fourchon deeper, the port and the Water Institute of the Gulf have partnered to use that sediment for coastal restoration projects. The initiative is called Partnership for Our Working Coast.

The projects, ranging from marsh creation to increasing the number of black mangrove trees, aim to protect Port Fourchon as well as the communities north of it.

“We are working towards not only protecting vital infrastructure in Port Fourchon using nature-based solutions, but also towards providing additional habitat and community benefits,” said Justin Ehrenwerth, Institute president and CEO, in a news release.

Port Fourchon is a service hub for about 95 percent of the deepwater oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The port plays a role in about 18% of the country’s oil supply.

Last week, the institute announced that it received a $500,000 grant from the National Coastal Resilience Fund after it raised about $650,000 in matching money. Aside from $50,000 from Port Fourchon, Chevron and Shell pledged to cover the other $600,000.

The National Coastal Resilience Fund is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and funds conservation projects proposed in coastal communities.

Port Fourchon director Chett Chiasson said the $500,000 will go toward determining where the dredged sediment can be best used.

The data collected will also be used to look at how different projects could affect water quality and pull carbon from the air.

Much of the money will also provide more opportunities for public input in the projects and create physical models of what the projects may look like.

“There are people in the local community that have a lot of thoughts and ideas that are invaluable,” said Chiasson.

By dredging the waterways, Chiasson noted that it will give larger ships access and could lead to more job creation while using the sediment to protect the port. He said they’re looking to dredge Belle Pass at the mouth of Bayou Lafourche to a depth of 50 feet and other waterways by 3 feet.

“It’s as much an environmental project as it is an economic project,” he said.

 

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at hparker@houmatoday.com or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker