Terrebonne Parish Restoration, Monitoring & Access Project

Restoration:Raccoon Island Conservation Stabilization with Mangroves

Planting Mangroves on Raccoon Island

Raccoon Island is located where Terrebonne Parish meets the Gulf of Mexico. The island supports invaluable nesting colonies of shorebirds. The island also protects the communities of Theriot, Dulac, Cocodrie, Chauvin, and Houma, as well as the Houma Navigation Canal and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The Island also supports nesting colonies of Pelicans, Egrets, Herons, Terns, and Laughing Gulls.

The island has experienced accelerated coastal land loss due to a combination of marsh break-up, subsidence, and storm impacts. By planting Black Mangroves, this vital barrier island is more likely to be able to withstand yearly storms and to continue to provide nesting habitat and protection from storm events.

This project would include the harvesting of 2,500 Mangrove buds from nearby islands and the planting of 1,000 Mangrove buds on Raccoon Island that have been fertilized during grow-out and gradually salt hardened for a year at the Nicholls State Farm.

Monitoring: Advancing Coastal Restoration Planning and Implementation Using Drones

               Drone Take Off On the Way to Isle Derniere

The Coastal Master Plan includes projects that will increase the protection of the Isle Dernieres through several restoration activities, including the addition of rock breakwaters, sand, and planting of vegetation. This project proposes the use of drones to monitor the island and document geomorphological changes in association with coastal restoration activities and natural processes, as well as how coastal water birds and shorebirds utilize this dynamic landscape.

It will also study how to apply innovations in sensors and drone technology in mapping coastal habitat. This research integrates knowledge from Geospatial Science to address gaps in modeling coastal ecosystems. It will assess the utility and cost effectiveness of drones for long-term. The students have been working on different aspects of UAS technology for over ten years and this project will incorporate a variety of disciplines to advance coastal restoration planning and implementation.

Objectives of the project include:

  • Validate image classification/feature extraction techniques with ground truthing.
  • Capture and model accurate elevation changes.
  • Develop classification methods for bird counts and burrowing invertebrates
  • Quantify marsh breakup, habitat recruitment, and integration pre and post restoration activities.
  • Estimate the plant and animal habitation.
  • Relate nest placement to dunes, their vegetation, and sand moisture levels.
  • Understand features of near shore shallow water that influences foraging by terns and skimmers.
  • Develop and integrate data with GIS ecosystem model for baseline monitoring that is generic, adaptive, flexible, and spatio-temporal.

Access: Restoring a Bridge to Coastal Plants

The Nicholls State coastal restoration program is a supplier of native plants and trees for coastal restoration activity through its farm. This project proposes building a concrete bridge to reconnect 40% of the farm that has been inaccessible since 2014 when a wooden bridge collapsed.

Without access to the land beyond the bridge, the naturally growing vegetation and trees will soon make it extremely difficult to reclaim the land. Monitoring of the building of a concrete bridge to reach the inaccessible land will be ongoing during the construction process.

Three important inaccessible areas of the coastal plants farm will be immediate usable.

  • The Nicholls Maritime Forest was established a decade ago by planting 30 Live Oak seedlings grown from acorns genetically adapted for barrier island conditions collected on Grand Isle. With access to these trees, the adapted acorns can be harvested to grow into Live Oak seedlings.
  • Cordgrass and Bulrush for restoration needs are produced in three study ponds, with potential for the ponds to produce a variety of resilient aquatic plants.
  • By increasing capacity of the seed nursery through access by students, the areas can be established for tree seed nurseries for a variety of species, expanding capacity to produce important adaptable vegetation for changes in the environment.

Public Education: Since its inception, AWF has educated the public through international conferences, summits and restoration projects coupled with pro-active media relations, public outreach and engagement. AWF will promote the projects in the media, through panel discussions at forums and will host a volunteer planting where applicable.

Project Title:Terrebonne Parish Restoration, Monitoring & Access Project
OrganizationNicholls State University
Year StartedTBD
Year EndedTBD
Duration of ProjectVaries