January 13, 2022
CAMERON, LA – The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) today announced the completion of the Cameron Creole Freshwater Introduction project on the east side of Calcasieu Lake in Cameron Parish. The project restored the function, value, and sustainability of 22,510 acres of marsh and open water by improving hydrologic conditions in the Cameron-Creole Watershed.
Hurricanes coupled with increased saltwater intrusion and reduced freshwater retention have impacted thousands of acres of marshland in Southwest Louisiana in recent years, causing significant damage and decreasing the likelihood the marsh would recover without comprehensive restoration efforts. By reconnecting the area to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW), the Cameron Creole project increased freshwater input and restored favorable hydrologic conditions in the region.
“Southwest Louisiana is no stranger to the impacts of devastating hurricanes and coastal land loss,” CPRA Chairman Chip Kline said. “In completing the Cameron Creole project, we took an important step in undoing some of this damage and restoring the value and productivity of over 20,000 acres of our marshland.”
The project was a joint effort between CPRA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with funding provided through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA). The total cost of project construction was $9.4 million.
“The completion of this freshwater introduction project marks a successful reduction in salinity levels and an increase in marsh productivity for the entire Cameron-Creole Watershed,” CPRA Executive Director Bren Haase said. “These marshes would’ve continued to deteriorate without intervention and CPRA is happy to have undertaken the important task of reversing this trend in partnership with NRCS.”
Local officials including State Sen. Mark Abraham and State Rep. Ryan Bourriaque joined in celebrating the completion of the freshwater introduction project in Southwest Louisiana.
“I am very excited that we have so many restoration projects occurring in Southwest Louisiana,” Abraham said. “The completion of this freshwater introduction project is another example of how we are improving our marshland so that our wildlife and fisheries can thrive and our citizens can enjoy.”
“District 47 is pleased to see the completion of the Cameron-Creole Freshwater Introduction Project,” Bourriaque said. “Tens of thousands of acres will be improved by the features of this project. On behalf of those of us in the Chenier Plain region of the state, we appreciate the efforts of the CPRA and CWPPRA with this critical project.”
Project engineering was completed by the NRCS with construction carried out by Tarpan Construction, LLC, a Louisiana-based company. The project’s last phase, installation of the debris screen, was completed in October 2021.
“The restoration of 22,510 acres of marsh and open water will have benefits for years to come for SWLA,” said Laurie Cormier, Coastal Zone Manager of the Calcasieu Parish Policy Jury. “The stark difference between a dead and healthy marsh is vast. I had an opportunity to stand on a levee and witness on my right a thriving, healthy marsh filled with fish, alligators, birds, and vegetation and on my left the devastation of a dead, open water marsh. It is an image that will never leave me. The Cameron Creole Freshwater Introduction project is a game changer for the Chenier Plain of Coastal Louisiana. I am grateful to CPRA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service for the successful completion of this much needed project.”