I recently had the opportunity to take a tour with the CWPPRA and CPRA staff of the Caminada Headlands Restoration site near Port Fourchon. The Caminada Headland forms the western edge of the Barataria Basin Barrier Island and system and has experienced some of the highest rates of shoreline retreat and landloss along the Louisiana Coast.
The Caminada headlands serve as critical habitat for migratory birds as well as for endangered or threatened species. The Headland is habitat for a variety of nesting and overwintering shore birds, including the least tern and threatened piping plover. The Headland is considered one of the most important least tern nesting areas in the state. The Headland also serves as a critical first line of defense for Grand Isle, Port Fourchon and Louisiana Highway 1 which provides the only evacuation route for several coastal communities.
Over the past 100 years, the Caminada Headland has experienced substantial shoreline erosion and land loss to its marsh, wetland, beach and dune habitats as a result of storm overtopping and breaching, saltwater intrusion, wind and wave induced erosion, sea level rise and subsidence. The Caminada Headland is facing one of the highest rates of subsidence in the world.
The restoration of the Caminada Headland has been a significant undertaking involving the largest contract issued to date from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) measuring 144.5 million dollars. The project is estimated to be one of the largest by CPRA, when completed, it will have restored 489 acres.
The restoration of the Headland occurred in two project increments. Increment I was the western half and was completed in December of 2014. Increment I restored approximately 300 acres and 6 miles of beach and dune habitat. Increment I used a mix of sediment pumped from the Mississippi River and high quality, beach-compatible sand from Ship Shoal, a large marine sand deposit just offshore of Isle Dernieres. Funding for Increment I was provided by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program and State Surplus funds.
Increment II is the larger eastern half of the Headland and will restore nearly 500 acres and 7 miles of beach and dune. Increment II is currently in construction. Increment II is being funded through the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which was established by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to manage funds resulting from the settlement of federal criminal charges against BP and Transcocean. In total, the two projects will restore 13 miles of Louisiana’s barrier shoreline.
Watch a video of the restoration of the Caminada Headland HERE.