Earth Day Volunteer Opportunity in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (press release) — The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana will deploy the second phase of its Plaquemines Community Reef this Friday and Saturday to protect a sensitive heritage site used for centuries by the Atakapa-Ishak/Chawasha of Grand Bayou Indian Village. Volunteers will travel by water from the Buras Boat Harbor to the reef site to assemble a living shoreline by hand using bags of oyster shell recycled from New Orleans restaurants. This Earth Day weekend project offers people from throughout southeast Louisiana an opportunity to take action that will help minimize storm surge and coastal erosion. 

CRCL, the first statewide nonprofit dedicated to confronting coastal land loss, has recycled more than 10 million pounds of oyster shell since the shell recycling program began in 2014, keeping it out of landfills to create living shorelines. CRCL’s recycled shell oyster reefs have slowed shoreline erosion by up to 50%, while creating habitat for new oysters and other wildlife. More than a dozen New Orleans restaurants participate in the program; there are also two sites in the city where residents can drop off their own shell for recycling. The program is supported by businesses and organizations including the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Meraux Foundation, Henderson Hutter, Shell, Chef’s Brigade, TC Energy Foundation, Stolthaven Terminals, Phillips 66 and EMR Metal Recycling.

“Our reef deployments are a unique, meaningful and fun way to help protect the coast,” said Kellyn LaCour-Conant, the restoration programs director at CRCL. “The first phase of this reef protected an irreplaceable Indigenous mound site from worse damage during Hurricane Ida. By adding more shell to this reef, we can maximize its shoreline protection capacity ahead of this year’s hurricane season. We’ve had volunteers describe the deployment experience as life-changing, and we always need more helping hands, so don’t miss out.”

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Volunteers will meet at the Buras Boat Harbor, about 50 miles from New Orleans by car. At the harbor they will move bags of shell onto boats, which will then travel to the reef site, where the deployment team will place the bags of shell into the water to construct the reef. Volunteers are invited but not required to get onto the boats or in the water.

Lunch, snacks, drinks and all necessary equipment are provided by CRCL. Registration and more information are on CRCL’s events webpage. 

To learn more about the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, visit the organization’s website.

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