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The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group is considering several restoration projects to restore for injuries to marine mammals and oysters.  Those projects are included in a draft restoration plan now open for public comment for 30 days through April 20, 2020. The trustees are also holding a public webinar on the plan on April 8. The plan, fact sheets in English and Vietnamese, and the executive summary in Vietnamese are all below.

The plan, “Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment #5: Living Coastal and Marine Resources – Marine Mammals and Oysters” (PDF, 218 pages), includes one preferred marine mammal project, and three preferred oyster projects.

Marine Mammal Restoration

The preferred project for marine mammal restoration will increase capacity for marine mammal stranding response along the Louisiana coast. It proposes enhancing the Louisiana Marine Mammal Stranding Network to enable more rapid responses to injured and dead dolphins and whales, and better understand the causes of death and illness by:

  • Hiring a Louisiana-based Stranding Coordinator that will build partnerships and conduct outreach
  • Providing additional infrastructure, equipment, and supplies needed to facilitate stranding response and improve rehabilitation capabilities (expected cost: $3,095,628).

Oyster Restoration

There are three preferred projects for oysters:

  • The Enhancing Oyster Recovery Using Brood Reef Project will construct a network of spawning stock oyster reefs to increase spawning oyster populations and offset impacts through construction of two reefs in the Lake Machais/Mozambique Point area and two in the Petit Pass/Bay Boudreaux area; and construction of up to 20 reefs in Chandeleur Sound (expected cost: $9,701,447).
  • The Cultch Plant Oyster Restoration Project will create oyster reefs through placement of limestone at a planting density of up to 200 tons per acre at select locations, with harvest closed until performance criteria are met (expected cost: $10,070,000).
  • The Hatchery-based Oyster Restoration Project will provide funding to support continued operations at the Michael C. Voisin Oyster Hatchery in Grand Isle, Louisiana with spat-on-shell deployment of hatchery-produced oysters onto existing shell substrate in public oyster seeding grounds that are low-producing or in need of rehabilitation (expected cost: $5,850,000).

We may select one or more of these projects for implementation.

Funding for oyster restoration under the preferred alternatives above is a commitment of all remaining dollars for oyster restoration in the Louisiana Restoration Area.  The programmatic structure of the proposed oyster cultch and brood reef projects should allow the trustees to continue to construct specific reef sites in the future. Additionally, the trustees may also propose projects in the future that benefit oysters through the wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitats restoration allocation as described in the 2016 Programmatic Restoration Plan.

Public Comment and Webinar

The public is encouraged to review and comment on the draft plan through April 20, 2020 by submitting comments online, by mail, or during the public webinar.

We will hold a public webinar on April 8, 2020 at 4:00 pm CT. We will present the draft plan and take written comments submitted through the webinar.

Also released today is a separate Louisiana Restoration Area plan designed to restore marsh at a large scale in the Barataria Basin. The Draft Phase II Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment #3.3 is open for public comment until April 20, 2020.  Please submit comments for this plan separately.

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