One Year In, Upper Barataria Marsh Creation Project Is On Track for 2023 Completion

An aerial view of the Upper Barataria project in March 2023 largely filled in. (Credit: Patrick Quigley/Gulf Coast Air Photo)

One of Louisiana’s largest wetland restoration projects to date is ahead of schedule, and is on track to be completed months earlier than anticipated.  

The Louisiana Trustee Implementation group approved $181 million for the construction of the Upper Barataria Marsh Creation project.  NOAA is implementing the project on behalf of the Louisiana Trustees. The project builds upon previous efforts to restore wetland habitats in Louisiana.  

The project was approved in the Phase 2 Restoration Plan 3.3: Large-Scale Barataria Marsh Creation: Upper Barataria Component to restore habitats impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  

The project design includes five marsh creation areas, each of which has a unique shape and acreage. Due to faster-than-expected replenishment of sediment dredged from the Mississippi River, the project is ahead of schedule. In the next few days, dredging will be complete and 1,183 acres of wetlands will be restored. 

The construction process is filling target areas with approximately 8.4 million cubic yards of sediment dredged from the Mississippi River. The sediment -- nearly enough to fill two Superdome stadiums -- is pumped through more than 13 miles of pipeline. The new coastal wetland habitat will support diverse species of fish and wildlife, and help reduce impacts of future storms on other coastal resources and communities. 

Construction of the project is slated to be fully completed by July 2023.  

Historic Context  

Louisiana and the Barataria Basin are in the midst of a land loss crisis. The Basin has lost more than 276,000 acres of land since the 1930s. Wetlands in the Basin were the most heavily impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which accelerated a severe land loss trend threatening Louisiana’s estuaries. The oil spill and response activities also significantly increased the rate of wetland loss in the area. 

The Upper Barataria project is the latest project in a mosaic of wetland restoration efforts in coastal Louisiana funded through multiple programs. The first project, constructed in 2009,  was the Bayou Dupont Sediment Delivery System, where construction of a sediment pipeline corridor from the Mississippi River was constructed below a railroad and a major highway, and into the Barataria Basin.  

Since then, partners including NOAA, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA,) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have constructed 1,015 acres of wetlands in the area. After the Upper Barataria Marsh Creation project is complete, the wetland will form a restored land bridge that stretches 5 miles from the hurricane protection levee in Plaquemines Parish to the Barataria Waterway in Jefferson Parish. 

This project is instrumental in restoring and creating habitat, and supporting the Trustees’ goals and priorities for coastal resilience. Additionally, this project has provided more than 140 construction-related jobs, further enhancing habitat restoration’s economic benefits in the region. 

More information on the Upper Barataria Marsh Creation project can be found via the Louisiana Restoration Area section of the Deepwater Horizon Trustee website.  

Information about other projects in Louisiana, can be found through the interactive Gulf Spill Restoration Projects map.  

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