We’re CRUSHing our Planting Goals
CRCL’s Habitat Restoration team is excited to CRUSH Louisiana's coastal threats! CRCL’s newest project, Communities Restoring Urban Swamp Habitat or CRUSH will plant 5,000 trees along the Lake Maurepas Land Bridge in Akers, LA, and the Central Wetlands Unit in Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes.
The swamps around lake Maurepas were heavily logged in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The area has not yet fully recovered for various reasons, including the introduction of nutria, lack of sediment input, and the construction of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) which allowed for saltwater intrusion. The closure of the MRGO has gradually reduced salinity, allowing non-salt tolerant species like cypress to return to the area. Our tree plantings are helping to kickstart the return of coastal swamp forests in the area.
The Central Wetlands were also heavily impacted by logging in the early part of the last century. This area is roughly 30,000-acres of semi-impounded wetlands located in Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes, and bordered by the MRGO and the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. In the early 1950s, the Central Wetlands Unit was primarily a freshwater system dominated by cypress swamps and freshwater marshes. After the construction of MRGO, saltwater came into the freshwater system, killing the remaining cypress trees and freshwater marsh grass species, ultimately converting the area into open water. The closure of MRGO has allowed the Central Wetlands Unit to return to a freshwater-brackish system that can support cypress swamp and freshwater marsh ecosystems.
With support from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF), this project will help restore and sustain the quality of wetlands within the Pontchartrain Basin watershed as well as facilitating the conversation about coastal restoration to local stakeholder communities.
“We often work to restore coastal forests far away from New Orleans and surrounding areas,” said CRCL Restoration Programs Director Dr. Deb Abibou. “While those projects are extremely important for the health of our coast and the protection they provide, it’s important to remind everyone that New Orleans is a coastal city. This initiative allows us and our volunteers to have tangible impacts on communities much closer to home.”
Along with our tree plantings, CRCL is partnering with the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, the EPA, and LPBF to highlight the need for restoring our coast through several engaging community events.
These events will give community members an overview of local coastal issues, highlight local water management and green infrastructure projects, provide an opportunity to participate in coastal restoration, and outline future steps for engaging in coastal restoration activities in Louisiana.
After all the trees have been planted we will celebrate the CRUSH project and our volunteers with a wrap-up event on February 13th.
Come out and get involved! There’s no time to lose.
To register or find more information about the program, volunteer opportunities, and the fun community events, visit CRCL.org.