American Wetland Foundation

The new Terrebonne Biodiversity and Resiliency Projects at Pointe-aux-Chenes and Bayou Terrebonne in coastal Louisiana feature a smaller scale, innovation, partnerships and a new breed of coastal restoration solutions. The two projects represent a private-sector investment of $3.4 million and, once completed, will restore 125 acres of wetlands with a per year economic value of $1.2 million and other annual benefits, including 280 tons of carbon sequestered, the elimination of up to 266 pounds of phosphorus and 10,600 pounds of nitrogen to improve water quality in lower Terrebonne Parish.

America’s WETLAND Foundation is partnering with global energy producer BHP and Houston-based Resource Environmental Solutions as private sponsors on the new approach, following successful completion of shoreline restoration efforts in Lafourche Parish along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. BHP supports its communities of operations by contributing to enhanced biodiversity, AWF notes, while RES participated in the GIWW project and earlier projects in the Pointe-aux-Chenes area. The foundation’s research and polling make a case for private-sector involvement in restoration, noting the difficult challenge of raising public dollars alone to meet the restoration needs.

“With any of our social investments, our main goal is to look for long-term opportunities and partnerships that allow for real change,” said BHP’s general manager, Gulf of Mexico, Kristen Ray. “I grew up in Louisiana, and the preservation of our natural environment has always been top of mind for the communities there. I’m heartened by the fact that biodiversity and ecosystems for future generations is paramount in the way BHP thinks about the environment and sustainability. Our involvement in this program is really a targeted way for our company to create value for our communities in Louisiana.” Added Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove: “These projects are a signal that we will stand our ground and build it back, one project at a time.”

The announced projects sit at the core of AWF’s new direction to introduce transitional projects, smaller in scale but valuable to wetlands in danger of being lost and critical to the overall success of the state’s coastal master plan. The new projects build on past work in the Pointe-aux-Chenes area, using enhanced techniques to prevent nutria damage and to preserve the genetic integrity of the vegetative plant materials. Placement of cypress on top of the newly constructed terraces at the Bayou Terrebonne Project, as seen here in an artist’s rendering of the completed project, will mimic the cypress ridges that were once present on the site. “We’ll reenergize 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 RES president & CEO and Louisiana native Elliott Bouillion.