Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) last month completed the Terrebonne Basin Barrier Island and Beach Nourishment project, which restored 1,080 acres of barrier island habitat and 8.6 miles of beach along the Louisiana coast in the parishes of Terrebonne and Lafourche.
Funds for the $166 million project flowed from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and were administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In addition, the state of Louisiana provided $3 million. The project restored 261 acres on Trinity-East Island, 252 acres on Timbalier Island and 567 acres on West Belle Headland.
“The newly completed Terrebonne Basin restoration project is a testament to the importance of our barrier islands as a first line of defense for communities,” CPRA Chairman Chip Kline said. “Across our coast, we’re building up our barrier islands, restoring our marshes, and fortifying our hurricane protection systems to increase our defenses against strengthening and more frequent storms.”
The project used more than 8.8 million cubic yards of dredged material from Ship Shoal through a lease agreement with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
“The significance of Terrebonne’s Barrier Islands in terms of storm surge protection cannot be overemphasized,” said Gordy Dove, Terrebonne Parish president. “Without these crucial islands, mainland Terrebonne is at the mercy of hurricane and tropical event-induced storm surge and flooding. In addition, these important islands play a crucial role in protecting our coastal marshes from destruction. We in Terrebonne are most grateful to CPRA for recognizing the importance of our barrier islands and funding their restoration. We look forward to a long and productive association with this very important state agency.”
“Projects like these represent continued protection for our residents and infrastructure that make our communities places people can still live, work and play,” said Archie Chaisson, the president of Lafourche Parish. “As we saw last hurricane season, these barrier islands are a vital link in the chain, and without them the effects of the storm would probably have been much different in Lafourche.”
The restoration project has historical significance in that one of the restored islands, Trinity-East Island, is part of the Isle Derniéres Wildlife Refuge, a former resort island in Louisiana. In 1856, the Last Island Hurricane destroyed Isle Derniére, causing the island to eventually split into five islands.
It’s part of a vulnerable landscape that’s been degraded over the years by hurricanes, subsidence, sea level rise and disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“The restoration of these three critical barrier islands and headlands within the Terrebonne Basin barrier shoreline system will make a significant contribution to efforts to restore coastal habitats and protect biodiversity in Louisiana and throughout the Gulf,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “With support from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, these projects will bolster efforts to protect this fragile landscape and continue to advance our goal of protecting and restoring species and habitats impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”
Work on Trinity-East Island included restoration of a 1,000-foot-wide beach on the west end of the island and the filling of the California Canal on the east side of the island. That part of the project was completed in August 2021. Work on Timbalier Island, which included a 1,000-foot-wide beach on the eastern side of the island, was completed in June. Restoration work on West Belle Headland was nearing completion prior to Hurricane Zeta in October 2020. The storm caused significant damage to the project, which led CPRA to revise the project work plan. After the storm, a feeder beach near West Belle Pass was added to provide nesting habitat, to protect the pass from flanking during surge events and to provide a sediment source to nourish the headland. The feeder beach was completed in January.
Caption for photo: Timbalier Island, part of the Terrebonne Basin Barrier Island and Beach Nourishment project. (Photo courtesy of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority)