Coastal restoration

It’s coming to Calcasieu

Coastal restoration sucks.

It really does.

If the Gallup people conducted a poll of Louisiana residents, asking the question, “Are you in favor of coastal restoration?” the only negative responses they’d get would be from people dumber than the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

We all absolutely adore coastal restoration. We need it, and we want the federal government to put as much money and resources toward the cause as possible.

That is, at least, until they start actually, you know, doing some projects.

The average Southeast Louisiana angler would love nothing more than to see simultaneous bolts of lightning turn the Davis Pond and Caernarvon diversions into damming rubble.

Why?

Because, as a result of the diversions, that guy is now beaching his boat on a mud flat surrounded by sweet water in an area he used to catch speckled trout.

But beginning this spring, coastal restoration will no longer be a “problem” only for Southeast Louisiana.

Sometime early in 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin dredging the Calcasieu Ship Channel to maintain its 42-foot depth.

Nothing unusual there. The corps dredges the channel, on average, every two years.

But this time, the corps’ contractor will allow overflow of dredged material slurry to run into the lake, according to Edward Creef, chief of the corps’ Environmental Function.

Without question, this will increase the turbidity of the lake in the immediate impact area, and could put a serious damper on Calcasieu’s annual trophy trout run.

“We’re unsure of the exact extent of the impact of the discharge,” Creef said.

The plan is designed to mimic an accidental spill of dredged material in 1996. That time, the contractor saw five breaches in constructed earthen containment walls, and couldn’t stanch the flow. As a result, 20 acres of new wetlands formed in the lake.

Now, the corps is planning to intentionally allow the overflow to seep into the lake to build new edge habitat.

“We’re going to be building acres of marsh where there aren’t any,” Creef said. “We’re going to be putting wetlands where there’s nothing but open water now.

“In the long-term, that’s going to be a good thing for the lake.”

The corps is doing all of this because of a state directive to use dredged material in the most beneficial manner possible, Creef said.

Historically, economics has been the corps’ driving force, and they’ve wanted to dispose of the spoil as cheaply as they could, the coast be damned.

Frequently, along other parts of the coast, that meant dropping all that vital sediment out at sea, sometimes even off the continental shelf.

Those days, hopefully, are gone for good.

Stupid coastal restoration.

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About Todd Masson 616 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.

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