2016 at Jesuit Bend Mitigation Bank

Hello, folks, I’m back for a rare blog post but it’s never too late to share the unique rewards of mitigation banking. Below I have posted video and here are some photos of the Jesuit Bend Mitigation Bank in Louisiana as it completes Year One monitoring. As the ecology matures, Jesuit Bend has a lot to teach anyone who is interested in coastal restoration. Simply viewing the project is informative.

This time last year Dredge Florida was roughly halfway finished with the 100 day dredging phase. Then in January we planted 211,000 pots of marsh grass. Today the site is meeting all interim success criteria, with thriving vegetation and proper elevations.

If you are only here for sport, check out the gator hunt at Jesuit Bend in late September and here for the kill shots.

Jesuit Bend profiled in ‘good news’ Christmas Day Wall Street Journal Op-Ed

Gulf Coast writer Quin Hillyer did an incredible job making Jesuit Bend’s complex story interesting and readable in an op-ed last week. Ecological facts, policy insight, local perspective and technical specs all wrapped up with a bow. We are thrilled and grateful at RS to be a good news item in America’s largest newspaper on Christmas Day.

Here is the link at WSJ.com.

How Markets Can Restore Louisiana¹s Marshes – WSJ[11] by Restoration Systems, LLC

New Orleans Public Radio and The Advocate cover Jesuit Bend and mitigation banking

Tegan Wendland of WWNO, the New Orleans public radio station, and Amy Wold of the Baton Rogue and New Orleans Advocate, did nice work with recent stories concerning Jesuit Bend and the mitigation industry. I sometimes feel for reporters covering mitigation banking. By necessity, they must explain the regulatory and policy background of banking, which, if properly done, takes at least a few minutes or several columns of print. And then, somewhere in the story, an actual mitigation bank and commercial enterprise must be described, with all the financial, ecological and regulatory context that entails. Tegan manages the challenge well in this segment. I was also excited to see that she used an RS video and photo, it is hard for reporters to catch some of the best scenes during the construction process, so the use of our digital material is always welcome.

On the radio segment, it was disappointing to hear Mark Davis of Tulane give faint praise (at best) to mitigation banking. And I hope his quote that a mitigation bank is not “true restoration” was abbreviated from a fuller discussion. I think he was attempting to communicate that a mitigation bank cannot be counted as “additive” to the wetland resource base since other acres — potentially equal acres — are permitted for destruction. That is true to an extent, but begs the question, should we not compensate for damage simply because it might only result in no-net-loss? He answers that question in an earlier statement, saying such impacts would be avoided and minimized…in “a perfect world.” Hmmmm.

wwno logo

WNNO: Restoration Work Profitable For ‘Mitigation Banks’

By TEGAN WENDLAND, November 23, 2015

There is a giant pipe that runs four miles from the Mississippi River over land to an expanse of open water just south of Belle Chasse on the West Bank. Rich murky river water spews from the pipe, so that the mud will settle and build new land. This open water used to be healthy marsh.

George Howard, a North Carolinan with a hearty laugh, plans to make it healthy again. He’s the CEO of Restoration Systems.

His giant rubber boots stuck in the mud on a sunny day as he watched excavators spread the sediment out in the swamp to build land. It’s a noisy, messy job, “That is the absolute brand-newest part of the state of Louisiana. It is a nice kind of darkish-grey color that is a mixture of sand which has come from everywhere from Colorado to Minnesota to Tennessee.”

See the entire story here at WWNOBaton-Rouge-Advocate-Logo-590x1441The Advocate: Private companies restoring wetlands in Plaquemines Parish are employing mitigation bank process

By AMY WOLD, NOV 25, 2015

A private wetlands creation project in Plaquemines Parish, with the size and complexity of state-built coastal restoration work, expects to take advantage of a mitigation bank to bring back wetlands near the Mississippi River and make a profit at the same time.

Mitigation banks are a vehicle by which a company doing habitat restoration work earns credits that it can then sell to other companies doing projects that damage wetlands or other habitats. Companies receive credits before the project begins, once it’s finished, three years after completion and seven years after completion.

The credits received before a project begins are often used as startup funds for the project.

The Plaquemines project started about five years ago when George Howard, CEO of Restoration Systems in Raleigh, North Carolina, learned there were going to be opportunities for mitigation banks in southeast Louisiana as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started looking for credits following the completion of the massive New Orleans levee project.

See the entire story here at The Advocate

 

Jesuit Bend: All over Facebook and new RS website

If you are interested in following developments at Jesuit Bend, we recommend you immediately follow RS at our company Facebook page — or, if FB ain’t your thang — visit the Jesuit Bend feature page on our brand new company website.

We are populating Facebook with current and recent photos of the dredge-and-fill work from the Mississippi River:

Screenshot 2015-11-16 20.28.46

 

And the new website is increasingly filled with material of more long-term interest, like news articles, or particularly instructive photos and video:

 

Screenshot 2015-11-16 20.29.31

 

 

 

 

Dredging v. Diversions

Worth Creech sent around this very well done article last night concerning sediment utilization in coastal Louisiana. We generally try to stay out of this fight — diversion versus dredging — since it seems this truly is an “all of the above” choice. However, I would have to agree that dredging at times seems to be the more practical and tangible approach when compared to its popular and fashionable but largely unproven alternative, engineered diversions. In fact, I would have to agree with this gentleman quoted in the article:

Cooper worries that his 10 grandsons will be senile by the time all the studies are completed. “I know where the sediment is,” he says, lighting a cigar and shouting over the wind and engine noise. “I can show them where it’s at. We’ve got shit-tons of sediment just laying around doing nothing while they study this and study that. They should have 10 dredges out there building land around the clock.”

But the needs are so vast it will surely require a mix of approaches, diffuse and long-term, such as diversions, as well as intense and highly targeted, which is dredging.

 

Baton Rouge, LA - 9/14/2015 - Sediment sprays out from the end of the dredge pipe in the middle of the Mississippi River. The Dredge Jadwin moves sediment from the designated shipping channel into the middle of the Mississippi River, where the natural current will continue to push it downward toward the Gulf of Mexico. The Jadwin, a 1933-vintage dustpan dredge, has seen 75 years of service along the Mississippi River. The boat is an integral part of the US Army Corps of Engineers' Mat Sinking Unit. The Mat Sinking Unit (MSU) is the only one of its kind in the world and performs one of the most important jobs in the Corps’ river stabilization program. The crew places articulated concrete mats along the river banks of the Mississippi River to control erosion. The MSU is responsible for maintaining over 800 miles of navigable channels and harbors to ensure safe, cost-effective, dependable, and environmentally sustainable transportation within the United States’ inland waterways.

Baton Rouge, LA – 9/14/2015 – Sediment sprays out from the end of the dredge pipe in the middle of the Mississippi River.
The Dredge Jadwin moves sediment from the designated shipping channel into the middle of the Mississippi River, where the natural current will continue to push it downward toward the Gulf of Mexico. -Photos by William Widmer for Al Jazeera America

Full Text can found be at Al-Jazeera here

By Richard Grant in Carville, Louisiana, Photos by William Widmer for Al Jazeera America, Published on Sunday, November 1, 2015

A hulking old engineering boat moves slowly up the mile-wide Mississippi River. The Dredge Jadwin operates like a gigantic vacuum cleaner, sucking up sediment from the riverbed and spewing it out to the side through a long pipe. “For us, sediment it’s basically a problem,” says Randy Stockton, master of the Jadwin, built in 1933. “It clogs up the shipping channel. It silts in the river ports. The more of it there is, the harder we work to move it. But down on the coast this stuff is like gold dust.”

These tiny particles of sand and silt, some of which have washed all the way down the river from North Dakota and Minnesota, are at the center of a heated debate in south Louisiana. According to most scientists and environmentalists, sediment from the Mississippi is the best hope of saving Louisiana’s disappearing coast. They support projects, now in the planning stages, that will divert river water into the eroding coastal marshes, in the hope that sediment will settle, accumulate and form land.

The opponents of these proposed diversion projects, many of whom work in Louisiana’s $2.6 billion seafood industry, are also concerned about coastal land loss. But freshwater from the Mississippi, they say, will destroy the shrimp, oysters and commercial fish species that live in the brackish water of the marshland. Instead, they are calling for dredges like the Jadwin to suck up existing underwater sediment and use it to build land. “Dredge don’t divert” is their rallying cry, plastered on bumpers, placards and T-shirts. Indeed, dredging is a proven, if expensive, method that is already taking place in many areas.

Jesuit Bend project on Fox 8 New Orleans

Full text and video from the Fox 8 website

By Rob Masson —

It’s a first of it’s kind project, just below Belle Chasse. Dozens of acres of new wetlands are being created in an area, that was once thriving, thanks to a unique new approach that could be implemented in other damaged coastal areas. It took thousands of years to build and just over 100 to disappear, but building it back won’t happen overnight.

“When it comes out of the pipe, an excavator spreads it away, so it doesn’t clog the pipe itself,” said George Howard with ‘Restoration Systems’. River sediment must be scraped off of the bottom with huge dredges like the Florida, then pumped five miles under roads and over the same levees blamed for choking off wetlands in order to recreate them.

FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Jesuit Bend in the news

For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thick coffee-with-cream colored sludge will be pumped directly from a mammoth dredge on the river to an expanse of marshy lake behind Jesuit Bend.To take a tour from the dredge operation sucking up the Mississippi mud to a pipe spouting the material into the marsh, it appears to be land building at its most efficient.