News release
Public Information Office   SLU 10880   Hammond, LA 70402   phone: 985-549-2341   fax: 985-549-2061
publicinfo@selu.edu Spring 2004 news releases Public Information home News archive


Contact: Christina Chapple
Date: 4/5/04
 
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BEEFING UP BULKHEADS – Turtle Cove facilities technician Hayden Reno and Ted Delage of Southeastern’s Physical Plant staff look over a new bulkhead being constructed to combat erosion at Southeastern Louisiana University’s environmental station on Pass Manchac. An $80,000 project is underway to renovate and add to the bulkheads and wharfs at Turtle Cove.
MARSH RESTORATION -- Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station marsh restoration coordinator Fred Stouder shows Southeastern and Tulane students how to plant cypress saplings during a volunteer weekend at Turtle Cove.


BULKHEADS AT SOUTHEASTERN'S TURTLE COVE GET MAJOR FACELIFT
      HAMMOND -- An $80,000 bulkhead and wharf repair project is underway at Turtle Cove, Southeastern Louisiana University’s environmental research station on Pass Manchac.
      The major facelift for the infrastructure surrounding the Turtle Cove site is being funded by the university and its College of Arts and Sciences as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Turtle Cove manager Robert Moreau.
      Moreau said the 2002 hurricane season, when both Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili blew through the area, was the last straw for the aging bulkheads, built in 1985.
      “Major repairs, and in some cases totally new bulkheads where there had not been any before, became necessary after the last major bulkhead became severely weakened – and in some
places collapsed – because of severe high water and flooding from the two major storms,” Moreau said.
      “The storms culminated a period of time in the last few years when land loss around the station became more apparent,” he said. “Even minor storms began to cause increased flooding.” Moreau said Turtle Cove’s problem “is an example of what is happening across coastal Louisiana due to the sinking of swamp lands and sea level rise, and the various other environmental impacts to coastal wetlands in our state.” 
      The construction of a long-term stable bulkhead, which is being done by Ladel Interest, Inc. of Ponchatoula, “should protect Turtle Cove and its users for years to come,” Moreau said..
      Among the recent “users” were students from Southeastern and Tulane University, who spent the March 20-21 weekend at the research station learning marsh restoration techniques – specifically how to plant cypress saplings in the marsh.
      The 22 students -- 10 from Moreau’s Environmental Awareness class at Southeastern and 12 from Tulane's "Green Club" student organization –  volunteered to help plant approximately 800 young cypress saplings on Southeastern property on the western end of Jones Island, which is located five miles west of Turtle Cove.  
      Moreau said Southeastern and Tulane recently signed a service learning agreement that will allow additional Tulane students to join their Southeastern peers on Turtle Cove marsh restoration projects.
 Planting cypress trees is only one component of a marsh restoration grant program at Turtle Cove, which has been managed by Fred Stouder, one of the station’s research associates, for the past eight years, Moreau said. Other components include placing Christmas trees along the edges of the island and planting various types of natural marsh grasses. 
      “It’s  all aimed at returning what is now a  marsh -- a wetland dominated by grass – to a swamp – a wetland dominated by trees,” Moreau said.  
      "The swamp was logged out of all its virgin cypress trees from about 1850 through the mid-1900s,” he said. “In fact the last virgin cypress tree in the area known as Manchac Swamp was cut down in 1956."
       Michael Greene, biologist on staff at Turtle Cove, also coordinates a replanting effort through the Alternative Break program. College students from across the country spend a week at Turtle Cove during their semester breaks replanting cypress trees in the marsh. Recent volunteers came from University of Illinois-Chicago, Rice University, Eastern Michigan, and Kansas University. 
      Moreau said that Turtle Cove annually coordinates the planting of more than 10,000 cypress saplings and approximately 2,000 various types of vegetation, including Roseaucane, Bullrush and Cut Grass. Overall, he said 100,000 cypress trees, and 10,000 varieties of other vegetation have been planted, mainly in the Jones Island area and in "the Prairie," an area on the southeast portion of the Manchac Wildlife Management Area. 
      Through Stouder’s Christmas tree marsh restoration program, which uses “recycled” holiday trees to construct sediment-collecting brush fences, approximately 4,000 trees annually – 13,000 to date -- have been placed in the Pass Manchac area.
      Moreau said Turtle Cove will also be the site this spring and summer for four workshops for teachers, coordinated by Greene and biological sciences professor Deborah Dardis. 
      “Because of its location, the active research being conducted there, and the opportunities for hands-on teaching and learning, Turtle Cove is an ideal location for learning about the monumental environmental problems facing Louisiana’s coastal zone,” Greene said. 
      The workshops introduce teachers to wetland ecosystems and current and historical, ecological and environmental problems and teaches them ecological aquatic sampling techniques and ways to incorporate some of these techniques into their classrooms.
      Moreau said an average of six or seven workshops are held annually at the station.
      The Turtle Cove staff is hoping to obtain grants for even more extensive improvements in the near future, such as a new boat shed, education complex and upgraded parking lot at Galva Canal as well as a new sewerage system for the station.
      For more information about Turtle Cove's Marsh Restoration Program, contact Stouder at 985-549-5355, fstouder@selu.edu. For more information about Turtle Cove's Alternative Break Program and teacher workshops, contact Greene at 985-549-3600, mgreene@selu.edu. Additional information about Turtle Cove is also available at www.selu.edu/turtlecove