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Jindal Announcement on Coastal Spending Commits State to Acquire/Reopen Elmer's Island
August 15, 2008 12:00 AM
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal held a press conference last Wednesday (August 13) to announce plans to spend a billion dollars over the next several months on projects to help restore Louisiana's diminishing coast and protect coastal communities. The announcement was made on the heels of an agreement with the federal government giving the state 30 years to match federal funds anticipated for coastal protection and restoration work.According to the Governor's Assistant for Coastal Activities Garret Graves that freed up $300 million in state dollars which can now be applied to implement projects in the near term.
Among the restoration projects described by the Governor and Graves is the Caminada Headlands/Barataria Basin Shoreline Restoration which will provide a buffer to storm surge in Jefferson and Lafourche Parishes.The $70 million project will address beach and wetland erosion problems from CaminadaPass to BellePass and help protect Louisiana Highway 1 and other infrastructure, businesses and dwellings in Grand Isle, Caminada and Port Fourchon.
In describing the project, Graves stated, "This includes a commitment from the state to acquire and restore Elmer's Island and make it available to the public for fishing and other recreational uses."
Reacting to the announcement, Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) Executive Director Randy Lanctot said, "This is the first time since LWF initiated the Elmer's Island Campaign in early 2002 that we have heard such encouraging words from the Governor's Office.We couldn't be more pleased and thank Governor Jindal for making this a priority for his administration and Mr. Graves for recognizing the importance of preserving Elmer's Island and opening it once again to the citizens of Louisiana."
Elmer's Island is a barrier beachfront with low dunes, mud and sand flats, marsh, lagoon and tidal channel comprising about 1700 acres on the west side of Caminada Pass from Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish. It traditionally has been open to the public for fishing and camping for a small fee. It was closed to the public in 2002 by the owner due primarily to liability issues and a lack of desire to continue operating the enterprise. It is one of the few land accessible beaches on the Louisiana coast and has been a popular destination for fishing, camping, birding and beachcombing for many years.
"If done properly, all these projects can benefit Louisiana's fish and wildlife resources," said Lanctot, "while at the same time contributing to the protection of coastal communities.It is exciting to think that we are finally ready to implement coastal restoration on a larger scale."
Other restoration projects to receive funding include $37million for a sediment pipeline for restoration of Plaquemines, Jefferson and Lafourche Parishes creating a dedicated, long-distance pipeline from the west bank of Plaquemines Parish to Jefferson and Lafourche Parishes. After completion of this sediment pipeline, the state will move forward on similar projects on the CalcasieuRiver, AtchafalayaRiver into Terrebonne Parish and other areas in Plaquemines Parish on the Mississippi River.The Bayou Lafourche Freshwater Diversion will receive $24 million to complete the first phase of the project and allow for a diversion of 300 feet per second on the bayou.Beneficial Use of Dredged Material will receive $26 million to restore coastal wetlands and $45 million is allocated for the Cameron Parish Shoreline.