America's Wetland Foundation on Thursday announced two projects aimed at restoring 125 acres of wetlands in Pointe-aux-Chenes and Bayou Terrebonne.
The projects will introduce a genetically prepared strain of bald cypress trees to combat years of land loss from storm surge and saltwater intrusion that have uprooted native bald cypress trees, further eroding the coastline.
"We'll re-energize this area by planting more than 35,000 bald cypress trees along with 35,000 coastal marsh grasses, all locally grown at our Pointe-aux-Chenes nursery," said Elliott Bouillion, president and CEO of Houston-based Resource Environmental Solutions.
The new strain of tree is more saltwater-resistant and will hopefully be able to thrive in the saltier water now found in many of Louisiana's marshes, said Val Marmillion, the managing director of America's Wetland Foundation.
The plantings will be combined with terrace building.
If it's successful, the project could also capture 280 tons of carbon dioxide each year and reduce phosphorus and nitrogen levels in the surrounding waters.
The foundation is working with private groups -- including industry -- to help finance and execute projects that fall within a $3 million to $10 million price range, Marmillion said. The Terrebonne projects, represent a private sector investment of $3.4 million.
Resource Environmental Solutions is responsible for designing, implementing and monitoring the two projects. The financial sponsor of both is global energy producer BHP.
The reason why these two locations were selected is because they are reverting from marsh to open water, allowing the progression of larger, wind-generated waves to form and accelerate the erosion process of the exposed shoreline.
"For most of the past decade we have made the case for innovative coastal restoration solutions involving the private sector," Marmillion said. "Now that most everyone knows the consequences of losing the equivalent of a 'football field of land every hour' along our coast, we are digging in with special projects to take back land from the rising tide."
"We've talked about these projects as the launch of the new breed of coastal restoration solutions," he added. "We have really looked at how we can restore these wetlands using not only native species but also our own people to do the research and to get back to their communities."
The projects are set up to start as soon as possible, and the completion time is estimated at two years. There will be a five-year period of maintenance and monitoring once the projects are completed to ensure both will stabilize and establish.
The Advocate (Baton Rouge) contributed to this report.
Staff Writer Andrea Mujica can be reached at 857-1148 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @CationM.