$31M For Breakwater, $23.7M For Marsh Restoration Projects

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Two coastal restoration projects totaling nearly $55 million in southwest Louisiana are seeing progress, state and federal agencies said.

         The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will get $31 million to build and maintain 2.5 miles of breakwater along the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Cameron Parish, and up to 9 miles may eventually be built, spokesman Bo Boehringer said.

         However, a state-federal task force must still vote on that and other projects recommended Thursday by the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act's technical committee, CWPPRA spokeswoman Nikki Cavalier said in an email.

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         The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is providing $23.7 million for a CWPPRA project to restore 600 acres of salt marsh at the mouth of the Calcasieu River, agency spokeswoman Kate Brogan said in a separate statement. Hurricanes Rita and Ike turned the marshes into open water.

         The Rockefeller refuge's shoreline has been receding about 46 feet a year, according to an online fact sheet from the Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force.

         "This area is an erosional hotspot and needs shoreline protection. … This will be one of the longest continuous spans of breakwaters in the Gulf of Mexico," Rockefeller program manager Scooter Trosclair said in a news release Monday.

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         Boehringer said construction is expected to begin in spring 2017.

         Cavalier said other construction projects recommended Thursday were to create 340 acres of marsh at Cole's Bayou in Vermilion Parish, and to restore freshwater flows and plant cypress seedlings west of Lac des Allemands in St. James Parish. The Rockefeller refuge project ranked first of the three in a weighted voting system.

         The technical committee also recommended engineering and design work on five other projects at Fritchie Marsh, Barataria Bay, Oyster Lake, Caminada Headlands and East Leeville.

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         The CWPPRA task force is to meet Jan. 14 in New Orleans.



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