By Scott Madere, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
If it’s one thing we can count on at the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), it’s the hard work and enthusiasm of our volunteers. Since our Community Based Restoration Program was created in 2000, more than 8,000 volunteers have joined us on the front lines of our coast, directly restoring 3,600 acres of wetlands.
Next week marks a new chapter in CRCL volunteer history as we take on quite possibly our biggest project ever. On May 14, 17, 18 and 19, CRCL volunteers will plant nearly 40,000 plants along newly constructed marsh terraces to help prevent further erosion and to stabilize the soil in these newly-created marsh features.
So what is a marsh terrace? Simply put, marsh terraces are earthen barriers created to reduce the impact of wind and waves on marsh that is under threat of severe erosion. They are often arranged in patterns where the terraces overlap each other to diffuse wave action on the shoreline.
For the past year, CRCL, the Rainey Alliance and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana have been constructing terraces to protect the fragile wetlands of Christian Marsh. All totaled, CRCL and its partners have placed 25,000 linear feet of terraces. That’s 83 football fields of coastal barrier for Christian Marsh! But just like any earth feature, these terraces are themselves vulnerable to wave action and wind erosion.
That’s where you come in.
The planting activities we have scheduled for the week of May 14 are designed to bolster these terraces and hold them in place. We need as many volunteers as we can to set plants into the terraces and strengthen their protective ability.
As an added bonus, the terraces and the plants that grow on them will help form additional habitat for an area that is lush with wildlife, particularly migratory waterfowl. If you have never been to Christian Marsh, it is a virtual paradise for ducks, herons, ibises, roseate spoonbill and brown pelicans. Your volunteer day takes place in one of the most beautiful areas of Louisiana marsh. It’s a beautiful place worth saving.
Additional support for this project comes from Cargill Dicing Technology, Coypu, NOAA and Restore America’s Estuaries.
The Rainey Alliance is a restoration partnership comprised of McIlhenny Company, the National Audubon Society, Sagrera Estates and Vermilion Corporation.