By Garrett Ohlmeyer Staff Writer
Gov. John Bel Edwards joined state and local officials to celebrate the completion of the Caminada Headland, the state’s largest restoration project to date.
The $216 million project restored more than 1,000 acres of habitat and more than 13 miles of beach from Port Fourchon to Elmer’s Island.
“The impact of this project is quite significant because it works together with a chain of the other barrier islands to provide increased protection for internal communities as well as critical infrastructure like Port Fourchon,” said Johnny Bradberry, executive assistant to the governor for coastal activities.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Edwards and others planted dune vegetation on Elmer’s Island, the eastern portion of the headland.
The restoration involved importing about 9 million cubic yards, or 1,047 football fields, of offshore sand from Ship Shoal, an underwater sand body located in the Gulf of Mexico, to restore habitat on the shoreline.
The complete restoration of the headland was split into two projects. The first project restored about 6 miles of beach and 373.5 acres of habitat on the western half and was completed in December. The second half restored about 7 miles of beach and 686 acres on the eastern half.
The new headland will help reduce the direct impact of storms to locations such as Port Fourchon, which provides 15 to 18 percent of the country’s oil supply and 90 percent of the Gulf of Mexico’s deepwater oil production.
Elmer’s Island, managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, provides an area for recreational crabbing, fishing and shrimping. The public island opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset.
“This is both restoration and protection,” Edwards said. “A lot of times we say we’re only doing one or the other. This is an example of how we can do both.”
The project was paid for by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, state surplus money and the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, established by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and resulting from fines over the 2010 BP oil spill.
Edwards said this project is the first example of the next generation of large-scale projects in the upcoming Coastal Master Plan. He also said restoration doesn’t get cheaper with time.
“Louisiana is experiencing an ongoing coastal land loss crisis, and we are really in a race against time,” Edwards said. “The sooner we can get projects on the ground, the greater the impact they are going to have.”