Volunteers wade through the marsh at Burns Point during a coastal restoration planting.

Saving Our Coast, One Plant at a Time

Local conservation agencies and volunteers keep at restoring our coastal marsh

The usual suspects were at it again this year at Burns Point, planting new marsh cover Monday, to reinforce the coastline there.
St. Mary Parish Soil & Water Conservation District, St. Mary Parish USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service & Farm Service Agency, St. Mary Parish 4-H, Franklin Fire Deptartment, St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office-Marine Section, Enlink Midstream, LSU Agcenter, Friends of the Teche, Gulfcoast Soil & Water Conservation District, Lafourche-Terrebonne Soil & Water Conservation District and Louisiana Department of Ag & Forestry provided numerous volunteers to the cause.
However, the Coast Guard reportedly couldn’t make it this year, as well as representation from a fisheries agency was absent.
Andrea Dumesnil of the parish’s SWCD said the day’s efforts were moving faster than in years past. She attributed that to a change in the plants’ packing, “This year, we planted plugs. The plants usually come in trayed gallons, but this year they came in bundles of plugs.”
Dumesnil explained that the gallon-trayed plants tended to stand up more stalwartly to the lapping of the waves, but that she had hope for the plugs, due to placement conditions being particularly good.
She said the plants are placed in different zones every year as the conglomerate works its way up the coastline from year-to-year.
This year’s plant types were the same as last year’s, with one exception.
The volunteers were conducting an experiment with some cypress trees, so those were added to the usual California bulrush and buttonbush plants.
Of last year’s offering and their progress, Dumesnil said, “It looks great. It’s broken the wear and tear on the bank allowing the plants to approach the plantees.”
She clarified that success is measured by how well the bank fills-in with natural vegetation behind the new marsh plants.
The volunteers at the plant sites appeared to be having fun. They labored under the surface of the water, their hands committed to unseen digging and setting, while just above the surface, they chatted and joked as waves slapped at their necks and faces.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” said Dumesnil. “It’s federally funded, but we coordinate the volunteers locally. These are all local people.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can call the parish Soil and Conservation office at 337-828-1461 ext. 3.

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