Image by 춘성 강 from Pixabay

Bucktown will be revitalized.

Construction is expected to begin this month on a $15.5 million project to restore marshland along a roughly one-mile-long stretch of Lake Pontchartrain’s shoreline in Jefferson Parish. Last week, Jefferson Parish gave contractors the go-ahead to begin barging in rocks to form nine segmented breakwaters in the lake between the Bonnabel Boat Launch and Bucktown Harbor. Those rocks will act as a “speedbump,” helping to protect the federal levee system from erosion, according to Jefferson Parish Council member Jennifer Van Vrancken, who spearheaded the project. Once hurricane season ends, the parish hopes to fill around 22 acres of water between the jetties and the levee with sediment and aquatic plant life, recreating the marsh that once thrived along the lakeshore. The project also calls for at least 20 feet of open water between the jetties and recreated marshland to form a “blueway” for kayakers and canoers to enjoy Lake Pontchartrain and the wetlands ecosystem. In the world of coastal restoration, the project is known as a “living shoreline”: a form of green infrastructure that uses vegetation and other natural materials to protect shorelines against erosion.

This is the first time a living shoreline has been used to protect a federal project.

The Bucktown project is the first time a living shoreline has been used to protect a federal levee system, according to Lauren Averill, an aide to Van Vrancken and the parish’s former coastal management director. And if it’s successful, it could be used as model for other places along Lake Pontchartrain’s shoreline in Jefferson and Orleans parishes, according to Greg Grandy, the incoming executive director of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. “It’s habitat restoration that also protects the protection,” Grandy said. “This will reduce the wave energy that comes off of Lake Pontchartrain, particularly during winter storms.” Van Vrancken also hopes the project will serve as a tool to educate residents on the importance of marshes and wetlands to Louisiana’s future. “Having this project here, where you can see a marsh, where you can get educated about our environment, where you can see a living shoreline, this is where we can educate the 99% of the population that lives behind our federal levee system,” she said.

There are multiple funding sources.

The project was made possible through a combination of grants and government funding. The latest came in April, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded Jefferson Parish a $4.5 million grant to construct the living shoreline. In fact, NOAA’s administrator, Richard Spinrad, specifically highlighted the Bucktown project in remarks at a conference earlier this year as representative of what the agency is trying to accomplish across the country. Other sources of funding include: $2.5 million from the National Wildlife Foundation; $1 million from Louisiana’s construction budget; $4 million from proceeds the parish receives from oil and gas revenues in the Gulf of Mexico; and $3.5 million from the CPRA.

There is an effort to bring back Bucktown.

The project is one of several underway as part of Van Vrancken’s push to revitalize the Bucktown waterfront. Later this month, officials hope to break ground on both a kayak launch and the “Bucktown Bird’s Nest” – a raised pavilion that will overlook Bucktown’s boardwalk and the soon-to-be created living shoreline. The engineers on the living shoreline project are Moffat & Nichols and the contractor is Luhr Crosby.

May it succeed and be replicated. Protect the land and offer recreation.

Bucktown marshes to be rebuilt
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