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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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Shell sponsors BTNEP in joint restoration endeavor

Shell sponsors BTNEP in joint restoration endeavor

Last week, Dean Blanchard, Deputy Director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP), announced BTNEP will partner with Shell to complete a series of projects to help restore some of Louisiana’s coastal marsh and ridge ecosystems.

These restoration projects will focus on chenier ridges and adjacent marshes which are unique wetland features that provide habitat for birds, fish, and other wetland animals.

Ridges stand several feet above mean sea level and are planted with a variety of woody and herbaceous plants. Surrounding these features are low-lying productive marshes.

Ridges provide important habitat and sources of food for many species of Neotropical migratory songbirds including some that are on the threatened and endangered species list.

Chenier ridges and maritime forests also act as speed bumps in slowing down storm surge during tropical events.

“Restoring ridges and adjacent marshes are a great way to provide valuable habitat and storm protection. This type of restoration always requires multiple partners to be successful,” said Dean Blanchard, BTNEP Deputy Director. “The use of volunteers from around the country to help vegetate these restored ridges is an important tool to raise awareness about our issues here in the estuary.”

As part of this joint restoration endeavor, Shell will provide funding and volunteers to work with BTNEP on habitat restoration projects that are being designed to help to improve the coast.

Like other National Estuary Programs throughout the US, BTNEP brings together citizens, scientists, businesses, and government to solve environmental problems and promote healthy, vibrant coastal wetland communities.

“There are many reasons why restoring Louisiana’s coast is important to Shell including the vital role this state plays in supporting our nation’s energy needs,” said Rick Tallant, General Manager for Shell’s Gulf of Mexico East assets. “But the most important reason is because this is our home. Shell employees live here, work here and volunteer here making us a part of a resilient and vibrant Louisiana community.”

The project will include growing native woody and herbaceous species that will be used for plantings. The plants will be grown at the BTNEP Field Operations Center located on the Nicholls State University farm.

Once the plants are grown out, volunteers from around the country, as well as Shell volunteers, will take part in the planting of these natives.

The currently scheduled plantings will take place on the Fourchon ridge and nearby marshes in Port Fourchon and in Plaquemines Parish where potential places need to be restored. The plants will be monitored and the results will be shared.

"No place is a better example of how energy and the environment are inter-dependent than Port Fourchon. We are grateful for the outstanding restoration work BTNEP and Shell have undertaken at the Port to date, and we welcome this investment from Shell in continued science-based restoration at Port Fourchon," said Chett

Chiasson, Port Commission Executive Director.

This series of projects is a part of a four-year program continuing the historical relationship between Shell and BTNEP for developing similar projects.

“Shell has been a long-time supporter of BTNEP and its science-based consensus-driven decision making process,” said Blanchard. “In the past, Shell has supported our volunteer program, restoration activities, and education programs. We are looking forward to this new project.”

The project will include BTNEP staff and the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Foundation (BTEF).

Shell Volunteers working with BTNEP on barrier island restoration project.