Nav: Home

Restoring canals shown as cost-efficient way to reverse wetland loss

December 19, 2018

LSU Boyd Professor of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences R. Eugene Turner has determined a cost-effective way to prevent coastal erosion and protect Louisiana's wetlands. Along with LSU alumna and now University of Central Florida Postdoctoral Fellow Giovanna McClenachan, Turner proposes a simple and inexpensive way to fill in canals that were once used for oil and gas mining. Their research was published recently in the journal PLOS ONE.

Dredging channels for oil and gas in Louisiana's wetlands creates rows of spoil banks, or excavated dirt and clay, which accumulate alongside the canals. These banks are long enough to cross Louisiana 79 times from east to west and equal three-quarters of the distance around the Earth.

The spoil banks were created by 35,000 permits issued from 1900 to 2017, and 27,000 of those permits are no longer used. Coastal land loss has coincidentally risen and fallen in time and space with this dredging. The land losses can be attributed to the changes in water flow caused by them that causes wetland collapse.

Filling the canals with remaining spoil banks is a successful restoration technique rarely applied in Louisiana, and is a dramatically cost-effective and proven long-term strategy. Turner estimates that the price of backfilling all canals in the coastal parishes is about $335 million, or 0.67 percent, of the Louisiana's Coastal Master Plan. This is a fraction of the cost compared to the economic value gained from extracting oil and gas for the last century.

"The absence of a state or federal backfilling program is a huge missed opportunity to conduct cost-effective restoration at a relatively low cost," Turner said.
-end-


Louisiana State University

Related Wetlands Articles:

First long-term study of Murray-Darling Basin wetlands reveals severe impact of dams
A landmark 30-year-long UNSW Sydney study of wetlands in eastern Australia has found that construction of dams and diversion of water from the Murray-Darling Basin have led to a more than 70 percent decline in waterbird numbers.
Wild geese in China are 'prisoners' in their own wetlands
In many places in the world, goose populations are booming as the birds have moved out of their wetland habitats to exploit an abundance of food on farmland.
Louisiana wetlands struggling with sea-level rise 4 times the global average
Without major efforts to rebuild Louisiana's wetlands, particularly in the westernmost part of the state, there is little chance that the coast will be able to withstand the accelerating rate of sea-level rise, a new Tulane University study concludes.
Invasive and native marsh grasses may provide similar benefits to protected wetlands
An invasive species of marsh grass that spreads, kudzu-like, throughout North American wetlands, may provide similar benefits to protected wetlands as native marsh grasses.
Wintering ducks connect isolated wetlands by dispersing plant seeds
Plant populations in wetland areas face increasing isolation as wetlands are globally under threat from habitat loss and fragmentation.
More Wetlands News and Wetlands Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...