About 20 miles southeast of Cocodrie, bulldozers are working on the state’s largest-ever project to restore barrier islands that protect inland communities from Gulf of Mexico storms.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and other officials got a first-hand look Monday at the restoration work on Trinity-East Island, part of a $167 million project that will use money from BP oil spill fines to restore several islands off Terrebonne and Lafourche.
“It’s really good to be out here and see first hand the work that has taken place,” Edwards said. “We have to do the most critical work first, and that’s why we’re standing on the barrier islands because this the first line of defense against approaching storms.”
Pipelines are pumping 9.2 million cubic yards of sand from Ship Shoal, a formation about 15 miles away, onto Trinity-East and Timbalier islands and the West Belle Headland. The sand, enough to fill the Superdome more than twice, will build 1,100 acres of marsh, dune and beach.
Work began in summer 2019 and is expected to be complete in January.
“In terms of acreage across the three islands, the Terrebonne Basin Barrier Island and Beach Nourishment project is our biggest barrier island restoration project yet,” said Bren Haase, executive director of the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which is leading the work.
“These barrier islands act as protection to our interior wetland systems, as our first line of defense from storm surge and as a buffer for the communities in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes,” he said. “With this historic project, we’re making a huge stride toward a more sustainable coast.”
Trinity-East Island is part of the Isle Dernières Wildlife Refuge, a once-popular resort island. In 1856, Isle Dernière was destroyed by the Last Island Hurricane, causing it to eventually split into five individual islands.