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Sunday, July 14, 2019

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Years later, shoreline stabilization project seems effective

Years later, shoreline stabilization project seems effective

Two years after the project was completed, a shoreline-stabilization project along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Larose is providing a snapshot into future opportunities for private sector restoration of wetlands, according to an environmental foundation.

Known as the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Shoreline Restoration Project, it was a demonstration by America’s WETLAND Foundation of new technologies and approaches to establish or fortify earthen berms that prevent saltwater intrusion into the waterway.

The project recycled plastic matrix planted with native grasses along one mile of banks of the canal that had been compromised by years of storm surge, rising tides and waves from commercial vessels, causing a threat to freshwater marshes.

“We often call the (Gulf Intracoastal Waterway) the line of demarcation for wetland erosion along the coast, and we chose a demonstration project designed for time efficiencies, innovation and cost effectiveness to address the urgent problem at hand,” said Val Marmillion, America’s WETLAND Foundation managing director.

Proof of the project’s success can be seen in the “lush marsh grasses” on the site, said Sidney Coffee, a senior advisor with the foundation.

The project replaced costly rock embankments with a combination of natural and recycled product called Vegetated EcoShield. The material, manufactured by Baton Rouge-based Martin Ecosystems, cost about $100 per linear foot, compared to traditional rock material that costs $800 to $1,000 per linear foot and can sink over time.

“With soaring costs for restoring the coast, it is imperative we find ways for private landowners and industry to participate in wetland recovery,” Coffee said. “Our evaluation suggests relying on nature’s staying power to succeed is one answer to the problem.”

Ethan Miller, owner of Delta Farms and the landowner for the project, said he was skeptical at first the project would work because over the years hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent trying to stabilize the berm.

“But looking at the results today, I am impressed,” he said. “Two years later, the berm is holding and the ecosystem is flourishing.”


-- Staff Writer Holly Duchmann can be reached at 857-2205 or Follow her on Twitter @holly_evamarie.