Projects: Hydrologic Restoration

Hydrologic restoration projects increase freshwater flows into wetlands or use structures to reduce saltwater intrusion. This project type can either prevent water stagnation in wetlands by restoring freshwater flows or help control salinity levels by blocking saltwater, which enhances the function of wetland habitat and prevents the die-off of freshwater vegetation. Hydrologic restoration projects can also help maintain optimal salinities needed for the success of other restoration projects, such as oyster reef and marsh restoration projects.

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Central Everglades Project

  • State: Florida
  • Type: Hydrologic Restoration
  • Estuary: Everglades
  • Land Benefit: 10,000 acres

The Central Everglades Project, authorized by Congress in 2016, is a bundle of high-impact project components aimed to improve the delivery of water to the central Everglades ecosystem. It includes elements to store, treat, and convey water south of Lake Okeechobee, and components to remove barriers to the sheetflow of water between the Water Conservation Areas and Everglades National Park. CEP will work synergistically with the EAA Reservoir and the Tamiami Trail Bridging to de-compartmentalize the Everglades and send water south. When completed, CEP will restore the natural sheetflow to 10,000 acres of degraded Everglades’ wetlands and improve the health of Florida Bay.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Florida Bay, known universally among those who love to fish there as “the backcountry,” stretches from the southernmost tip of the mainland, south to the Florida Keys. Hundreds of mangrove islands dot the bay, and are ringed by shallow flats that make a perfect home for snook, redfish, spotted seatrout and lots more.

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Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Flow Restoration

  • State: Texas
  • Type: Hydrologic Restoration
  • Estuary: Galveston Bay
  • Land Benefit: 6,500 acres

This project would restore freshwater flows across two large tracts, totaling about 6,500 acres, at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Land use changes, such as construction of roads and ditches, have reduced overland flow of fresh water. Combined with the channelization of adjacent bayous that connect to East Galveston Bay, the reduced flow has increased salinity levels in marsh habitats resulting in ongoing marsh degradation including the conversion of areas to open-water saline ponds. Up to 10,000 acre-feet per year of reliably available water would be purchased and delivered to the tracts.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Anahuac NWR provides some of the best seasonal waterfowl hunting opportunities in Southeast Texas. The water deliveries will restore more natural salinity gradients and inundation patterns across the refuge tracts, improving and protecting marsh habitat for wading birds and waterfowl.  The water deliveries also will reduce salinity levels in bayous draining the tracts, especially during drought periods, benefiting young fish, shrimp, crabs and other organisms that move between the tracts and nearby East Galveston Bay.

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Calcasieu Ship Channel Salinity Control Measures

  • State: Louisiana
  • Type: Hydrologic Restoration
  • Basin: Chenier Plain
  • Parish: Calcasieu , Cameron , Jefferson Davis , Vermilion
  • Land Benefit: 21,648 acres

This project is located in the Calcasieu Ship Channel which connects the Gulf to Calcasieu Lake. The Chenier Plain was once a stable platform, but dredging of navigation canals dramatically changed the hydrology of the system. Saltwater intrusion led to the extensive loss of freshwater marshes and increased the threat of storm surge to communities in the lake’s interior. This project will build structures that will limit saltwater intrusion through the Calcasieu Ship Channel and into adjacent marshes and could also provide minor storm surge protection in the ship channel.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

By decreasing saltwater intrusion into nearby wetlands, this project will help sustain these wetlands which provide important habitat to the area’s wildlife.The areas that benefit from this project include the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge and the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge which provide a variety of recreational opportunities to sportsmen, such as fishing, crabbing, and hunting waterfowl and alligator.

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West Maurepas Freshwater Diversions

  • State: Louisiana
  • Type: Hydrologic Restoration
  • Basin: Pontchartrain-Maurepas Basin
  • Parish: Ascension , Livingston , St. James , St. Charles , Tangipahoa
  • Land Benefit: 45,126 acres

This diversion project encompasses as many as three individual freshwater conduits from the river. It would benefit the western Maurepas swamps, the land-bridge between Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain and the LaBranche wetlands. Dominated by bald cypress and water tupelo trees, this swamp complex is one of the largest forested wetlands in the nation. However, levees constructed along the river and the closure of Bayou Manchac have isolated the area from spring floods and the vital fresh water, nutrients and sediments they bring. This isolation coupled with rising salinities throughout the Pontchartrain Basin has left the swamp in a state of rapid decline – trees are dying, and young trees are not growing to replace them. The West Maurepas Freshwater Diversions will benefit the swamp by reconnecting it with the river, preventing further loss and the conversion to open water, as well as helping to temper rising salinities throughout the entire Pontchartrain Basin.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Increased freshwater and nutrient input in the Maurepas Swamp will help prevent further conversion of swamp to open water and combat saltwater intrusion into the more than 100,000 acre Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area which offers opportunities for sportsmen to hunt white-tailed deer and alligator and fish for freshwater species, such as largemouth bass, sunfish, and crappie.

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Increase Atchafalaya Flow into Terrebonne Marshes

  • State: Louisiana
  • Type: Hydrologic Restoration
  • Basin: Terrebonne-Atchafalaya Basin
  • Parish: Lafourche , St. Mary , Terrebonne
  • Land Benefit: 17,200 acres

This hydrologic diversion project stretches from the Atchafalaya River to the Houma Navigation Canal, which is part of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway system. The marshes in the influence area are nearly equidistant between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers and are blocked from significant amounts of river water and sediment. As a result of saltwater intrusion and sediment starvation, these marshes have been rapidly converted to open water. This project would dredge and deepen the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to increase the flow of fresh water from the Atchafalaya River, to help sustain Terrebonne Marsh.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Over the last 50 years, while there’s been net land land gain around the Atchafalaya River and Wax Lake Outlet, more than 250,000 acres of land have been lost in Terrebonne Bay. This project will increase freshwater input into northern Terrebonne marshes to sustain and protect freshwater marshes in the area against saltwater intrusion. The wetland area that would benefit from this project includes the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge where sportsman can fish and hunt waterfowl and white-tailed deer.

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