Between November 2017 and April 2018, Port Fourchon staff members filled some of its surrounding wetlands with nutrient-rich sediment dredged from a boat slip.
As a result, the area has transformed over the past year from open water to lush marsh grass, offering habitat for more species of animals.
Now, the Greater Lafourche Port Commission and Port Fourchon are looking to turn the newly created marsh into a coastal wetlands park, said Davie Breaux, deputy director of the port.
Plans for the park include the potential for walking trails, fishing, viewfinders and informational panels on the wildlife, among other aspects.
Breaux called it an “outdoor classroom.”
Breaux and Port Director Chett Chiasson said the wetlands park would be the first of its kind and a way to highlight the way the Port Fourchon staff tries to ensure industry and the environment work together.
“And how this can be mimicked across the coast and potentially across the world,” said Chiasson.
They said it went along with the port’s attraction as a site for ecotourism thanks to the variety of species that live nearby.
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 percent of the country’s entire oil supply.
Currently, the first phase of the park is under construction. The port is using its own workers and equipment to create a tidal creek that will be available for recreational kayaks and other non-motorized vessels.
The sediment excavated to create the creek is being moved to build up one side of the bank as a potential option for placing a walking trail in the future.
The port is exploring other grant opportunities to set other parts of its plan for the park in motion.
Chiasson said the port just secured grant funding for viewfinders and is working with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program to identify the wildlife in the marsh to place on the planned informational panels.
The park would offer a place for students to go on field trips and see what wetlands mitigation is and understand how marsh creation works by looking at it in person.
Chiasson said if the full plan for the park is implemented, it’s expected to cost around $12 million.
-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at email@example.com or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker.
Posted on Tue, July 9, 2019
by By Halle Parker Daily Comet Staff Writer