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Water 2016, 8(3), 71; doi:10.3390/w8030071

Restoration and Management of a Degraded Baldcypress Swamp and Freshwater Marsh in Coastal Louisiana

1
Comite Resources, Inc. 11643 Port Hudson Pride Rd., Zachary, LA 70791, USA
2
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
3
Department of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond LA 70402, USA
4
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
5
Wetland Resources, LLC 17459 Riverside Lane, Tickfaw, LA 70466, USA
6
School of Renewable and Natural Resources, Louisiana State Univerisity, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Y. Jun Xu
Received: 10 November 2015 / Revised: 25 January 2016 / Accepted: 2 February 2016 / Published: 24 February 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2637 KB, uploaded 24 February 2016]   |  

Abstract

The Central Wetlands Unit (CWU), covering 12,000 hectares in St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes, Louisiana, was once a healthy baldcypress–water tupelo swamp and fresh and low salinity marsh before construction of levees isolated the region from Mississippi River floodwaters. Construction of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), which funneled saltwater inland from the Gulf of Mexico, resulted in a drastic ecosystem change and caused mortality of almost all trees and low salinity marsh, but closure of the MRGO has led to decreases in soil and surface water salinity. Currently, the area is open water, brackish marsh, and remnant baldcypress stands. We measured hydrology, soils, water and sediment chemistry, vegetation composition and productivity, accretion, and soil strength to determine relative health of the wetlands. Vegetation species richness is low and above- and belowground biomass is up to 50% lower than a healthy marsh. Soil strength and bulk density are low over much of the area. A baldcypress wetland remains near a stormwater pumping station that also has received treated municipal effluent for about four decades. Based on the current health of the CWU, three restoration approaches are recommended, including: (1) mineral sediment input to increase elevation and soil strength; (2) nutrient-rich fresh water to increase productivity and buffer salinity; and (3) planting of freshwater forests, along with fresh and low salinity herbaceous vegetation. View Full-Text
Keywords: baldcypress swamp; saltwater intrusion; Louisiana; wetland restoration; wetland assimilation; coastal marsh baldcypress swamp; saltwater intrusion; Louisiana; wetland restoration; wetland assimilation; coastal marsh
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hunter, R.G.; Day, J.W.; Shaffer, G.P.; Lane, R.R.; Englande, A.J.; Reimers, R.; Kandalepas, D.; Wood, W.B.; Day, J.N.; Hillmann, E. Restoration and Management of a Degraded Baldcypress Swamp and Freshwater Marsh in Coastal Louisiana. Water 2016, 8, 71.

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