NOAA 2001-R154
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm
12/14/01

NOAA FISHERIES AND LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES DEDICATE BLACK BAYOU RESTORATION PROJECT

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources today dedicated the Black Bayou Hydrologic Restoration Project, a 25,530-acre wetland located in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes benefitting the largest area of coastal wetlands constructed by the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act to date.

The restoration of Louisiana's marshes is funded through the Breaux Act, a 10-year-old campaign to protect and restore coastal natural resources. Project directors dedicated a total of eight projects that have been completed during the past year.

"The goal for the Black Bayou restoration and our other Breaux Act restoration projects is to protect and restore ecologically valuable areas of coastal Louisiana for the benefit of fisheries, marine habitat and other important resources," said Scott Gudes, NOAA deputy administrator. "We expect to apply what we're learning here to future projects."

The $6.4 million Black Bayou project was designed to restore coastal marsh habitat and slow the loss of wetlands that are gradually turning into shallow open water within the project area. Construction included restoring 22,800 linear feet of the southern bank of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, installing three rock weirs to reduce the size of manmade canals in the project area, and installing a state-of-the-art self-regulating tide gate.

The self-regulating tide gate, built in California, has never before been used as a restoration technique in Louisiana. NOAA Fisheries believes it will achieve dual objectives of protecting thousands of wetland acres while maintaining fisheries access to these very wetlands. If proven successful, the self-regulating tide gate could become widely used to preserve coastal Louisiana habitat.

The Black Bayou hydrological restoration project was jointly managed by NOAA Fisheries and the Louisiana DNR. The construction award to Alexandria, La., company Luhr Brothers, Inc. came in under design-cost estimates. Over the next two years, NOAA Fisheries plans to spend a portion of the total funds planting 55,000 wetland plants in the area. Over the 20-year life of the project, experts expect an additional 1,800 acres of open water to convert back into marsh across the project area.

Breaux Act projects are implemented through agreements between federal project sponsors and the Louisiana DNR. Projects are selected and managed by the Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act Task Force. The Task Force is a partnership among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Commerce's NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Governor's Office.

In addition to NOAA Fisheries' Black Bayou project, officials dedicated 7 other projects. They include: The Highway 384 Hydrologic Restoration Project; the Perry Ridge Shore Protection Project; the GIWW-Perry Ridge West Bank Stabilization Project; the Plowed Terraces Demonstration Project; the Sweet Lake/Willow Lake Hydrologic Restoration Project completed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service; Replacing Sabine Refuge Water Control Structures at Headquarters Canal Project completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the Sabine Refuge Marsh Creation Project, Increment 1 completed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

NOAA Fisheries is an agency of the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency conducts scientific research and provides services and products to support fisheries management, fisheries development, trade, and industry assistance, enforcement, and protected species and habitat conservation programs. For more information on NOAA's Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act projects, see http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration/.

Editor's note: On December 14, 2001, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA or Breaux Act) is dedicating eight recently completed wetlands restoration projects in the southwestern parishes of Louisiana. The ceremony at the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge will be hosted by Senator John Breaux and attended by key CWPPRA Task Force representatives including NOAA Deputy Administrator Scott Gudes. The 10 a.m. dedication ceremony will be followed by lunch and a VIP helicopter tour of several projects being dedicated.