Why wetland restoration is important for Louisiana and how the construction industry can help

Louisiana wetlands aerial photo

Louisiana is home to approximately 40% of all coastal wetlands in the United States. Sadly, the Bayou State is also where 90% of the nation’s coastal wetlands disappear each year. In fact, every thirty minutes, Louisiana loses one acre of wetlands!  

New Orleans is at the epicenter of this. Much of the metro area consists of marshes and swamps, giving us beautiful landscapes and one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. When preserved, our local wetlands also serve as effective buffers to wind and storm surge, reducing damage and coastal erosion. But if nothing is done to maintain this waterscape, metro New Orleans could meet a fate similar to the rest of the coastline.  Fortunately, there are ways to turn this situation around. Cycle Construction and Cycle Marine are leaders in making our coastline stronger. The following outlines three ways in which the construction industry can play a major part in preserving our coastline.

  1. Levees and Flood Walls: Built to protect shorelines from powerful waves and water surges, levees and flood walls also help regulate water levels. This is critical for a below-sea-level city like New Orleans. Levee and flood protection systems are complex and their design is often determined by location, elevation, wave energy and landform. (Case Study: Ellington Levee Project)
  2. Living Shorelines: Coastal erosion can eventually lead to flooding and other damage. Shorelines and coastal areas can be stabilized with the innovative use of living shorelines. Most recently, Cycle Marine was hired by the State of Louisiana to preserve the coastline in Plaquemines Parish by building a “living shoreline” with concrete barriers that will naturally grow oyster reefs.  There are various types of structures that can be utilized to promote oyster growth.  The oysters will attach to each other; as well as, the concrete.  This creates a locked in wall effect that is sustainable and forms a living shoreline.  Sediment then deposits behind the living shoreline creating new land mass.  Once developed, living shorelines increase resilience to future erosion along the shorelines. (Case Study: Living Shoreline)
  1. Marsh Terraces: Marsh terraces are essentially levees built in the marsh.  Typically built in a grid-like pattern in shallow, marsh environments, terraces stick out approximately 2 feet above water level.  Terraces reduce wave action and allow sediment to be deposited as tides rise and fall.  The reduction in wave action improves water clarity and increases vegetation growth between each terrace.  Added vegetation helps restore marine wildlife and provides a sustainable environment, while rebuilding critical landmass.  (Case Study: Alexis Bay Marsh Terracing) 

While there is not one particular “silver bullet” construction method that will quickly save our disappearing coastline, there first step is for everyone in our government and communities to work together to find solutions.  When it’s time to get the job done, Cycle Construction is a capable and experienced leader in coastal and wetland preservation. Call us today to learn more about our marine construction sector or to get a quote, fill out the form below and a Cycle team member will be in touch with you.