THIBODAUX — An effort led by Nicholls State University biology faculty completed four coastal restoration projects in 2014 — including beach and barrier island plantings and a beach sweep — thanks to a grant from Shell.
The Plant Materials Program is a university initiative that offers the opportunity for students, faculty and community members to participate in hands-on restoration projects.
More than 180 volunteers, including Nicholls faculty and students, contributed 1,242 hours to the projects. Those volunteers removed 2,742 pounds of trash from Elmer’s Island and planted 15,015 grasses, mangroves and trees on Louisiana’s dunes and barrier islands. Many of the plants were grown on the Nicholls Farm.
The projects included:
- Nicholls led two beach grass plantings on newly restored Fouchon Beach dunes in July and November. Approximately 11,000 bitter panicum grasses were planted to restore habitat and prevent erosion of the new dunes, which will help to protect Port Fourchon from future storm surges.
- During a September beach sweep of Elmer’s Island, volunteers brought in 193 bags of trash totaling more than 2,700 pounds
- Volunteers planted smooth cordgrass, black mangrove and sand live oaks on East Raccoon Island in September to help improve habitat on the recently restored barrier island, which is home to one of the largest pelican nesting colonies in Louisiana. In collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, approximately 2,000 black mangrove and 2,000 smooth cordgrass were planted on one acre of newly restored marsh on the island. Fifteen sand live oaks once native to south Louisiana were planted on higher elevation areas outside of the restoration project. The Nicholls Farm has been growing these unique trees from a seed source in Florida.
Shell has supported coastal restoration efforts, research and native coastal plant production at Nicholls since 2010.
For information about participating in Nicholls’ coastal restoration efforts, contact Dr. Allyse Ferrara at 985-448-4736.