By Sara Sneath, NOLA.com | The Times‑Picayune Follow on Twitter on March 20, 2017 at 3:03 PM
The largest single ecosystem repair project in the 12‑year history of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is now complete. The state spent $215.9 million to restore 13 miles of shoreline in Lafourche Parish, where sea level rise, subsidence, wind and waves have eaten away at the Caminada Headland for a century. The rate of land loss there averaged 35 feet per year, the coastal agency says. That was particularly worrisome because the shoreline helps block storm surge from washing over Port Fourchon and Louisiana 1, the only highway evacuation route for Fourchon and Grand Isle. Too, its beach and dunes serve as habitat to migratory birds and shorebirds, including endangered iping plovers. Port Fourchon is a hub for the oil and gas industry, furnishing the United States with 15 percent to 18 percent of its oil supply and 90 percent of the Gulf of Mexico’s deepwater oil production, according to state officials. The port also services commercial fishing, shipping and tourism interests. State awards $145 million contract for second phase of Caminada Headland reconstruction.
To restore the shoreline between the mouth of Bayou Lafourche and Caminada Pass, contractors sucked up 8.7 million cubic yards of sand from an ancient delta of the Mississippi River 27 miles away. The sand was then barged to a staging area and pumped via pipes onto the Caminada Headland shoreline. The project was completed in two phases, with money from coastal impact assistance funds, state government surplus and the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. The gulf fund was established by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to manage money from the settlement of federal criminal charges against BP and Transocean. The state is hosting a ribbon‑cutting and grand‑opening ceremony for the Caminada Headland project on Tuesday (March 21) at 1:30 p.m. on Elmer’s Island, between Port Fourchon and Grand Isle. Gov. John Bel Edwards is scheduled to speak.