Construction starts on ‘living shoreline’ near New Orleans

May 12, 2022 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana has begun construction of a $67 million project to create miles (kilometers) of oyster reefs to protect the shoreline in a New Orleans suburb.

Money for the Biloxi Marsh Living Shoreline comes from an $8.8 billion restoration fund set up in a settlement with BP after the 2010 oil spill.

A contractor is building breakwaters out of material that will both protect wetlands behind it from wave erosion and provide a place suitable for oyster larvae to settle and grow, creating oyster reefs, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said Thursday.

The project is in St. Bernard Parish, southeast of the nearly 40,000-acre (16,000 hectare) Biloxi Wildlife Management Area, which the agency described as home to fish, shrimp, crabs, and waterfowl, and a high-tide refuge for mammals.

“The protective breakwater we’re constructing will reduce shoreline retreat and stabilize hundreds of acres of marshland,” said Chip Kline, chairman of the authority. “By sustaining the marshland, we strengthen the critical buffer between hurricane storm surge and the city of New Orleans.”

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The Biloxi Marsh Living Shoreline will provide approximately 11 miles (nearly 18 kilometers) of shoreline protection in an area that has lost nearly 16,000 acres (6,500 hectares) of coastal land since the 1930s, Executive Director Bren Haase said.

The agency said parts of the shoreline have receded as much as 48 feet (14.6 meters) a year.

“With this project, we’re constructing shoreline protection along Eloi Bay near the mouth of Bayou la Loutre to reverse this process and provide better protection to the region,” Haase said.

St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis said, “The unique challenges we face in coastal Louisiana require innovative solutions like those being implemented by the CPRA. I’m glad to see this kind of innovation directed to such an important restoration effort.”