Program Promotes Wetland Restoration by Reducing Regulatory Burden

The Takeaway: The Louisiana coastal program led an innovative fee initiative that helps restore local wetlands vital to the commercial fishing industry.

Terrebonne Parish’s fishing industry depends upon its wetlands, which make up 88 percent of the land area. Annually, local commercial fishing businesses garner more than $28 million, and the industry’s self-employed take home more than $68 million. Louisiana’s Office of Coastal Management is promoting wetlands restoration with a fee program that cuts red tape on habitat mitigation permits and helped fund 37 acres of wetland restoration within the parish.

The coastal program’s In-Lieu Fee program, adapted from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiative, allows applicants on habitat mitigation projects to save time and headaches by paying the coastal program directly. Applicants previously had to conduct their own mitigation or pay fees into a mitigation bank. These fees generated $1.8 million that help support the Lost Lake Marsh Creation Project, which is led by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

The Lost Lake project will restore 465 acres in the area that are rapidly losing marsh. It also addresses marsh breakup northeast of the lake that creates ponding and occasional higher salinity, which damages even more marsh.

Restoration will strengthen the lake rim and bayou bank, plus add tidal creeks to prevent ponding in reconstructed areas. About 30,000 linear feet of terrace will stabilize marsh by cutting the distance wind or waves travel across open water. Other benefits include a healthier exchange of freshwater and sediments.

The coastal program, which is part of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-New Orleans District on the In-Lieu Fee program. (2018)

Partners: Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Coastal Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-New Orleans District