State of the Beach/State Reports/LA/Beach Fill

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Louisiana Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access12
Water Quality75
Beach Erosion7-
Erosion Response-2
Beach Fill6-
Shoreline Structures6 3
Beach Ecology1-
Surfing Areas24
Website5-


Policies

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs, A National Overview (NOAA, March 2000) provides the following information:

"Policy Citation and Description

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §709 A. Coastal Management Regulations. Non-structural methods of shoreline stabilization should be used whenever possible.

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §723 A (2)(i). Coastal Management Regulations. A permit is required for shoreline modification projects.

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §723 A (2)(n). Coastal Management Regulations. A permit is required for activities which impact barrier islands and beaches.

Related Policies

Near Shore Sand Mining Regulations

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §711 K, N. Coastal Management Regulations. Surface mining should be done using the best practical techniques to minimize adverse environmental impacts. To the maximum extent practicable, only materials that are free of contaminants and compatible with the environmental setting should be used as fill.

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §723 A (2)(f). Coastal Management Regulations. A permit is required for sand mining activities.

Dredge and Fill Regulations

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §707 B. Coastal Management Regulations. Dredged spoil should be used beneficially to improve productivity or create new habitat, reduce or compensate for environmental damage done by dredging activities, or to prevent environmental damage.

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §723 A (2)(a). Coastal Management Regulations. Requires a permit for dredging or filling and discharges of dredged or fill material.

Sand Scraping/Dune Reshaping Regulations

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §723 A (2)(i). Coastal Management Regulations. A permit is required for shoreline modification projects.

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §723 A (2)(n). Coastal Management Regulations. A permit is required for activities which impact barrier islands and beaches.

Dune Creation/Restoration Regulations

La. Admin. Code tit. 43, §711 F. Coastal Management Regulations. Requires restoration and revegetation of areas modified by surface alteration activities.

Beach Nourishment Funding Program

There is a state funding program for beach nourishment.

Federal Authority: 1990 CWPPRA (public law 101-646).

La. Admin. Code tit. 49, §214.40. Coastal Resources Trust Fund.

Cost Share Requirements

CWPPRA funding 75%

Coastal Restoration Trust Fund meets 25% match."

OCM requires beneficial use of dredged material wherever possible, and to encourage it when not mandatory. The single biggest dredging agency in the coastal zone is the USACE, which maintains 10 navigation channels in coastal Louisiana. Some 30-40% of this dredged material is used beneficially; the rest is lost due primarily to the expense of moving it to a beneficial location.

OCM attempts to increase the amount of beneficial use by facilitating partnerships with the USACE, and some projects have in the past been accomplished using supplemental funds from CWPPRA, Sections 204 and 1135 of the Corps’ Continuing Authorities Program, and LDNR’s own coastal restoration program.

In June 2009 the state proposed a sweeping new rule that requires private industry to play a greater role in coastal restoration. Previously, the state required wetlands rebuilding only on projects where more than 100,000 cubic yards of sediment were dredged -- a requirement often not well-enforced. The new rules governing dredging in state waters provide dredgers of as little as 25,000 cubic yards of material with four options for capturing the value of 100 percent of the material they dredge:

  • Use the dredged material in a nearby restoration project
  • Assist an existing federal, state or local project
  • Build a project elsewhere with a similar amount of dredged material
  • Pay money into the Coastal Resources Trust Fund in lieu of reusing the dredged material, at a rate of $1 per yard or 1.5 percent of the cost of a barrel of crude oil, whichever is greater.


The in lieu payment would be limited to a third of the total dredging project cost, but the Natural Resources secretary could veto the payment if it did not sufficiently offset the failure to use the dredged material to create new wetlands. The rules were scheduled to go into effect later in 2009 after state agencies and the public get a chance to comment on the rules.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Office of Coastal Management announced in October 2009 and then had a further announcement in March 2011 regarding new rules on the beneficial use of material dredged in projects requiring a coastal use permit were now in effect. The changes include four options for permit applicants involved in coastal projects that include dredging – implementing a project that makes beneficial use of the dredged material, providing for the use of the dredged material on an approved coastal restoration project, using dredged material at another location that creates the same amount of beneficial use, or making a voluntary contribution to the Coastal Resources Trust fund, based on the amount of material dredged.

Inventory

Breton Island, LA serves as an important coastal resource for migratory birds and breeding waterfowl as well as important protection from wave action and storm surge during storm events. During the calendar years 2001 and 2005 the USACE undertook a program which was fully federally funded to restore parts of Breton Island through beneficial use of dredge material. Material created by the maintenance dredging of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet was utilized for island renourishment.

Since 1989, the LDNR and its partners have been engaged in an effort to restore, preserve, and enhance Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, which are disappearing at a current rate of 24 square miles per year. At this rate, an area the size of a football field is lost every 38 minutes. To date, 635 restoration projects have been authorized throughout the coastal zone to ameliorate the state’s wetland loss. As of November 2005, the coastal restoration program has constructed 74 Breaux Act projects, 41 state projects, 35 federal projects, 371 vegetation projects, and 37 PCWRP projects. Despite these efforts, land loss remains a significant problem in Louisiana.

Restoration project types range from large freshwater diversion projects, which divert a portion of a river’s flow, sediment, and nutrients into entire basins, to small vegetation projects, which involve planting salt- and flood-tolerant marsh plants to stabilize eroding soils. Among those projects already constructed, many have proven to be successful. Examples include beneficial use of dredged material and marsh creation projects, which have created vegetated marsh habitat in areas that previously contained deteriorated wetlands or open water. Sediment diversion projects have also been successful in creating marsh in the form of crevasse-splays in areas that were once shallow open water. Data collected from these projects are not only used to evaluate the effectiveness of individual restoration projects, but also to guide the planning and design of future projects.

Approved CWPPRA (Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act), implemented State, and non-CWPPRA Federal restoration projects are listed and described on DNR's Website. Many additional project details (data, maps, reports) are available from this list. These projects are a mixture of types of projects, including wetlands restoration and creation, water diversions, dredge and fill projects and shoreline protection (armoring). Many projects do involve shoreline fill. As an example, here's the description of the project titled "Whiskey Island Restoration":

The project is intended to create and restore beaches and back island marshes on Whiskey Island. The project consists of creating 523 acres of back island marsh and filling in the breach at Coupe Nouvelle (134 acres). The initial vegetation planting with smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) on the bay shore was completed in July 1998 and additional vegetation seeding/planting was carried out in Spring 2000.


The description of "Dedicated Dredging Program" reads:

The DNR Dedicated Dredging Program (LA-01) was initiated in FY 98/99 and is funded 100% by the State of Louisiana through its statutorily dedicated Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Fund. The goal of this program is to use a small, mobile hydraulic dredge to move sediments from small inland waterways within the coastal zone of Louisiana and deposit the material to nourish and/or rebuild the threatened coastal marshes that are located immediately adjacent to those waterways.


On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout began spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. By May 2010, in an attempt to protect mainland wetlands, the State of Louisiana requested emergency authorization to construct sand berms along the coast to block the movement of oil. At Breton National Wildlife Refuge, the original plan called for the construction of three lengths of berms seaward of the islands that stretched end-to-end from the northernmost island 48 kilometers south to the Mississippi River Delta. Through consultation with the USGS and other agencies, it was determined that excavation of material along a linear trench 1 kilometer offshore was not practical and that other sources for the material, such as offshore shoals, were more viable options. This and other concerns were outlined in the USGS Open-File Report, Effects of Building a Sand Barrier Berm to Mitigate the Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Louisiana Marshes. On the basis of data from earlier studies, a large sand resource was identified at Hewes Point, a sand spit building outward from the north end of the barrier-island platform. With Hewes Point as a source, construction of the sand berm began in June 2010 and continued through March 2011, long after the Macondo MC252 well had been capped (July 15, 2010) and observations of surface oil within the Gulf had ceased (August 2010). In its post-construction form, only the first length (known as E-4) of the originally proposed trio of berms was completed. The E-4 berm extended along the submerged axis of the northernmost Chandeleur Island chain—detached from the islands—for approximately 8 kilometers and joined the island shoreface for an additional 4 kilometers. About 4 million cubic meters of sandy sediment was used in the construction. The berm was engineered as a temporary structure and underwent significant change both during and after construction. Despite a relatively uneventful tropical cyclone season and few significant winter cold fronts, winds and overwash from waves have reduced its elevation and segmented the berm at numerous locations, significantly reducing its subaerial extent. The berm and the northern Chandeleur Islands provide a natural laboratory of unusually large scale to observe how sudden changes in morphology (for example, due to storms or renourishment projects) and geologic processes (such as erosion, deposition, and rollover—the landward movement of a barrier island as sediment is eroded from the seaward side and deposited on the landward side) will affect barrier-island evolution. With the wealth of scientific data already available for the islands and the fact that the berm will interact with the barrier-island system on observable time scales, the USGS hopes to answer fundamental questions about how climatic and geologic variables influence the present and future morphology of coastal systems. More info.

In 2012 Louisiana gained approval from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to use offshore sand deposits to rebuild shoreline features in Lafourche and Cameron parishes. The state is planning to use up to 5.2 million cubic yards of sand from Ship Shoal to restore 280 acres of beach and dune habitat as part of the Caminada Headland Shoreline Restoration project. The shoal is about 10 miles off the shoreline of Terrebonne Parish, and 27 miles from the project site. This project is intended to protect interior wetlands within the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary and the offshore energy support infrastructure at Port Fourchon. It It is noteworthy that much of the project will be on private beaches owned by the Edward Wisner Donation Trust. More info. An update from December 2013.

Although federal dollars have been spent on barrier island restoration in Louisiana, the majority of near-term future funding will come from BP fines from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which could top $20 billion. These fines under the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) process will be divided between the Gulf Coast states impacted by the 2010 oil spill, with Louisiana and Mississippi receiving the lion’s share for coastal restoration. Currently being litigated in court, BP agreed in 2011 to a $1 billion upfront payment towards these fines, but they only agreed to release the majority of the money in 2014. Of this, $320 million was allocated for Louisiana barrier island restoration, including target projects on Whiskey Island, Cheniere Ronquille, Shell Island and Breton Island. The Chandeleur island chain will also be targeted for major projects in the next installment of BP payments.

Information on beach fill in Louisiana is also available through Western Carolina University's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. State-by-state information is available from the pull-down menu or by clicking on a state on the map on this page. Background information and a database with details on individual projects by state can be found here.

A report National Assessment of Beach Nourishment Requirements Associated with Accelerated Sea Level Rise (Leatherman, 1989) on EPA's Climate Change Impacts and Adapting to Change website notes that the cumulative cost of sand replenishment to protect Louisiana's coast from a 50 to 200 cm rise in sea level by 2100 is estimated at $2.623 billion to $5.232 billion.

The Fiscal Year 2015 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.561 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs: A National Overview (2000) is a report NOAA/OCRM that provides an overview of the problem of beach erosion, various means of addressing this problem, and discusses issues regarding the use of beach nourishment. Section 2 of the report provides an overview of state, territorial, and commonwealth coastal management policies regarding beach nourishment and attendant funding programs. Appendix B provides individual summaries of 33 beach nourishment programs and policies.



State of the Beach Report: Louisiana
Louisiana Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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