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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.
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
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
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,”
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Turtle Cove's Alternative Break Program and
teacher workshops, contact Greene at 985-549-3600, email@example.com.
Additional information about Turtle Cove is also available at www.selu.edu/turtlecove.