BATON ROUGE, LA – Gov. John Bel Edwards today joined the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) in announcing the completion of restoration efforts on Trinity-East Island. The island was restored as part of the Terrebonne Basin Barrier Island and Beach Nourishment project, which includes the restoration of West Belle Headland and Timbalier Island.
The Terrebonne Basin project is using $167 million in funds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and $3 million in state funds to restore 1,257 acres of marsh, dune, and beach in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. The completed Trinity-East project built over 2.5 miles of continuous shoreline and 301 acres of beach habitat on the historic barrier island.
“The newly completed Trinity-East Island project faced an immediate test with Hurricane Ida, and it passed,” Gov. Edwards said. “The project’s success is a testament to the resiliency of our coastal projects and the importance of restoring and preserving Louisiana’s barrier island chain. We’re excited to announce the completion of Trinity-East Island and the continuation of this 1,257-acre restoration effort on Timbalier Island and West Belle Headland.”
Trinity-East Island is part of the Isle Derniéres Wildlife Refuge, a once-popular resort island on Louisiana’s Southeast coast. The Last Island Hurricane of 1856 destroyed Isle Derniére, also known as “Last Island,” causing its eventual split into five individual islands including Wine, Trinity, East, Whiskey, and Raccoon.
“Despite facing one of the strongest hurricanes in our state’s history, Trinity-East Island fared incredibly well and sustained minimal damage,” CPRA Chairman Chip Kline said. “Hurricane Ida reaffirmed the necessity of protecting the systems that protect us. The Terrebonne Basin project serves both protection and restoration functions while playing an integral role in the coastal program’s multiple lines of defense strategy.”
The project’s next phase will include the restoration of 376 acres of beach and marsh on Timbalier Island and 97 acres of additional beach on West Belle Headland. Construction on Timbalier Island began on July 31.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) manages the Isle Dernières Wildlife Refuge, which includes a portion of the Trinity-East project site.
“This project is an impressive example of the state’s commitment to protect coastal properties, as well as to provide critical habitat for birds and other species of greatest conservation need,” LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said.
Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF, said the landscape scale of the Terrebonne Basin project will drive long-term sustainability for the iconic wildlife populations of coastal Louisiana, as well as for the communities and industries that rely on these natural habitats as a first line of defense against storms and erosion.
“The Foundation’s $167 million investment in the Terrebonne project was made through our Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which was established to help mitigate the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Trandahl said. “As recently demonstrated by Hurricane Ida, these kinds of investments can provide both immediate and long-term benefits to local communities and wildlife habitat.”
The offshore sand source being used for restoration is provided through a mineral lease with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
“BOEM is pleased to work with our partners in restoring critical coastal areas in the Gulf of Mexico region,” said Michael Celata, BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico Regional Director. “Using offshore sand resources is a smart way to protect communities from the accelerated effects of climate change.”
CPRA is the lead state agency charged with building and strengthening Louisiana’s coastal habitats as well as manmade protective structures. It also serves as the designated state representative in coastal partnerships with federal entities.
“Over 9 million cubic yards of sediment are being used to complete this large-scale restoration project and provide improved storm surge protection to Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes,” CPRA Executive Director Bren Haase said. “We’re proud of the planning and collaboration that went into ensuring the state’s largest barrier island restoration project is a success for the people and wildlife who call these parishes home.”
Local leaders including Terrebonne Parish President Gordon “Gordy” Dove and Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson joined in celebrating the completion of the island’s restoration.
“Terrebonne’s Barrier Islands serve a number of important purposes,” Dove said. “Not only do they offer critical habitat for wildlife and nesting migratory birds, they offer excellent fishing opportunities and protect our important coastal marshes, which are the breeding grounds for shrimp and fish species. But, most important for Terrebonne Parish, the barrier islands are our critical first line of defense against hurricane storm surge. They help to reduce hurricane-driven storm surge, which can be so damaging as it travels inland. The Terrebonne Basin Barrier Island and Beach Nourishment project is very much needed and welcomed. I want to thank Gov. John Bel Edwards, CPRA and its Chairman Chip Kline, and Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and CEO of NFWF for completing this critical barrier island restoration project on Trinity-East Island for Terrebonne Parish.”
“Our critical barrier island chains help to protect our basin and knock down storm surge like we recently experienced during Hurricane Ida,” said Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson. “I’m grateful for our partnership with CPRA and their commitment to our coastal communities. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we preserve and maintain our barrier island chains, marshes, and levee systems across South Louisiana.”
Vegetative plantings will begin on Trinity-East Island this fall.
For more information about the Terrebonne Basin Barrier Island Project, visit https://coastal.la.gov/news/terrebonne-basin-barrier-island-and-beach-nourishment/.