$31 million Oyster Bayou Marsh Restoration underway - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

$31 million Oyster Bayou Marsh Restoration underway

CAMERON PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

It's been said that Cameron Parish is Lake Charles' best defense against hurricanes and the damage they cause. A $31 million marsh restoration project is underway in Cameron Parish to help create more land to provide more protection.

As Louisiana loses land it loses protection from incoming storms. But here in Cameron Parish, the Oyster Bayou Marsh Restoration project is transforming open water into marsh and land.

Sediment from more than three miles off the Gulf is dredged and moved via pipeline to the project site. Muddy water gushes into the water to create marsh that will one day look as green as neighboring areas. The sediment is held in place by earthen dikes.

Federal, state and local partners work together on the project. Mel Landry is with NOAA, one of the federal partners.

"These marshes are incredibly important to protecting our infrastructure, our communities and our livelihood in coastal Louisiana. So, not only do these marshes reduce storm surge as they, it enters our coast from hurricanes offshore, it also protects the pipelines that lay under and north of this marsh, and also provides habitat for fisheries that we reap the benefits of whether commercially or recreation," said Landry.

Besides protecting billions of dollars in economic growth, Landry says the Oyster Bayou Marsh restoration project helps all who live north.

"This is our coast of today. If we weren't out here restoring it, the coast of tomorrow could be at your back door in Lake Charles. So by protecting it and restoring it here we're protecting those communities, even though we may be a ways from there now," he said. 

Hurricanes Rita and Ike took their toll, making areas to the north increasingly vulnerable to storm surge.

Calcasieu Police Jury Coastal Zone Manager Laurie Cormier says it's a great day for Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes.

"Along with all the economic development come people, right? And so now, with the people that are going to be moving into all our our apartments, town homes, condos, whatever, we have to protect them. And the best way to do that is to spend our dollars wisely and do projects like this that are going to lower the storm surge," she said.

Pat Landry with the State Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority says there's more to come.

"We have several other projects in the works. We've got another marsh restoration project that we just bid, just to the east of Big Lake. It's about a 500 acre site and so we're investing about $25 million of construction in that particular area. We also have another rock shoreline protection along Rockefeller Refuge that we're getting ready to bid," he said. 

Though the project costs $31 million, those here agree it's value is immeasurable.

The project is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

For more information on Oyster Bayou and other projects to save our coast click here.

Copyright 2017 KPLC All rights reserved

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