GALLIANO — The Greater Lafourche Port Commission recognized Nicholls State University for its fundamental contributions to Fourchon Beach coastal restoration and protection efforts at a commission board meeting Thursday in Galliano.
Nicholls biology faculty and students have grown and planted over 16,500 dune grass stems to help protect Fourchon Beach from environmental factors like storm surges and coastal erosion since July 2014. Volunteers will return to the beach on Friday, Nov. 13 for additional planting.
The recipient of the 2015 American Association of Port Authorities Environmental Enhancement Award, the ongoing Fourchon Beach restoration project is a collaboration among the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, Nicholls, Shell Oil Co. and the Wisner Foundation. The project rebuilt over 5,300 liner feet of beach and dune habitat along Fourchon Beach, which provides essential storm surge protection to Port Fourchon.
“Having an environmentally conscious organization like the Greater Lafourche Port Commission collaborate with Nicholls students on service-learning opportunities encourages them to connect with their community and gain a firsthand understanding of the impact they can make as future biologists,” said Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy. “Nicholls is very proud of its biology faculty and students for becoming leaders in preserving and protecting Louisiana’s vulnerable coastline.”
Fourchon Beach is the first line of defense for Port Fourchon, which services over 90 percent of all deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production, accounting for approximately 20 percent of the U.S. energy supply. This beach area sustained extensive damages from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Isaac.
“While it’s great to build this beach and dune back, we understood that the project wouldn’t be able to last long in that environment without plants to help hold it together,” said Chett Chiasson, executive director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission. “That’s when we approached Nicholls State University about helping us protect this investment with a series of plantings, and we are very grateful that they have done so much to help us keep our beach intact.”