Close to 100 Lafourche Parish school students and dozens of volunteers helped build the Floating Islands Restoration Project off of Highway 1 near Grand Isle on Friday.
The project is spearheaded by Coastal Conservation Association’s Building Conservation Trust and partners Shell Oil Company, Entergy, Lafourche Parish and Martin Ecosystems.
Kids ranging from 10 to 15 years of age were on hand from Holy Rosary School in Larose and Golden Meadow Middle School. The kids planted roughly 6,000 square feet of new wetland island habitat and placed them in the water just north of LA 1. They planted three types of native plants, including mangrove, seashore paspalum and smooth cord grass, into 8-foot by 25-foot BioHaven Floating Islands. The islands were assembled on-shore and were then moved to the water for installation.
The kids were joined by more than 50 volunteers from Shell, Entergy, CCA Louisiana and teachers from their own schools. The project was held in conjunction with 2015 Earth Day.
“It is really cool to be down here making a difference,” said Abbi Collins, a 5th grader at Holy Rosary School. “Louisiana is known for our great fishing and seafood, and hopefully, by building this new marsh, we will help that continue into the future. I’ve learned a lot today”
This is the third project of this type spearheaded by CCA and Shell. The first project was Phase I of the Isle deJean Charles Project in Point Aux Chene, completed in 2011. Phase II of the Isle deJean Charles project followed in 2013. In all, nearly 12,000 square feet of new marsh was created in Point Aux Chene to helping fortify marshland that had been devastated by years of erosion and storms. These were the first projects to use this new technology, developed by Martin EcoSystems, in an open-water marine environment application.
“We would like to thank CCA, Shell, Entergy and all these great kids for making this happen today,” said Charlotte Randolph, Lafourche Parish President. “Protecting this coast from erosion and storms is critical for future generations of Louisianians. Projects like this one show how we can get things done when we put our minds to it.”
Martin Ecosystems’ floating islands technology allows the plants to take root in the water bottom while providing protection from the natural elements and enhancing fish habitat.
“CCA is so proud to be a part of the solution to our State’s coastal erosion problem,” said George Huye, CCA Louisiana State President. “Along with Shell, Entergy, Martin Ecosystems and all these young volunteers, we have created new marsh in a way that can be mimicked across the coast. At the same time, we built great habitat for fish and other wildlife”
Funding for the project is provided by CCA’s Building Conservation Trust, Shell Oil Company, Entergy, Lafourche Parish, Martin Ecosystems and private donations by CCA members. Restore or Retreat, The LA 1 Coalition and Port Fourchon provided lunch for the volunteers.
“Shell considers Louisiana home and takes pride in our work to enhance our natural resources,” said Jim Rozycki, VP of Shell Deepwater. “Public / private partnerships are very special to Shell, especially in this case where our employees have the opportunity to work with students who will help lead future restoration and energy efforts.” Deanna Lafont, Customer Service Representative from Entergy, agreed.