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Lake Pontchartrain
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Volunteer

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation's success depends on the dedication and talents of thousands of volunteers. People often volunteer with us because they feel a personal commitment to protecting and restoring our basin, so that all of us can enjoy it. Motivated by this valuable feeling of ownership, volunteers get involved in a variety of fun, interesting events that we hold throughout the year. Learn more

Many of these events are annual, including our Back to the Beach Festival, Beach Sweep, Fishing Rodeo, Golf Classic, and Northshore "Let's Make Waves" Party.

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation staff also welcomes those who wish to volunteer in our office. Office volunteers regularly offer their time and talents throughout the year. Their assistance is invaluable. Learn more

Recreation

Coastal projects

 

 

 

Bayou St. John is a natural and historic bayou within the city limits of New Orleans.  The bayou has great historical significance since the bayou was used by French explorers to found New Orleans in 1718. Although the bayou has been highly altered from its natural swamp terrain and hydrology, the bayouhas attained great urban beauty and is a prized green space corridor that runs from the Lafitte corridor to Lake Pontchartrain.
In spring 2013, OLD undertook a dredging project to unplug the mouth of Bayou St. John at Lake Pontchartrain and improve water flow inward when the floodgate is open. This is part of a series of projects intended to improve the Bayou'shydrological and ecological function, including the recent removal of a nearby dam. The dredging project was an opportunity to beneficially use sediment for environmental enhancement.  LPBF biologists developed a plan to build a containment dike using a relatively new product (called DeltaLok), and to have dredge material placed in two areas within the Bayou for the purpose of marsh creation to create an isolated area of marsh area along the otherwise armored seawall which stretches for ten miles along New Orleans’ recreational lakefront and Lakeshore Drive.  LPBF hopes that the new marsh will draw the community to enjoy and embrace the area, and help focus international attention on Louisiana's rich but imperiled environment.

 

Mardi Gras Pass

mgp

 

The development of new distributaries along the Mississippi River is a rare occurrence in modern times because the majority of the length of the river is leveed.   In southern Louisiana, there is 11 mile portion of the river where levees were removed in 1926 to create an outlet for the river during flood events called the Bohemia Spillway (put link to Bohemia Spillway here).  During a flood event on the Mississippi River in 2011, LPBF detected the initiation of channel formation in the Bohemia Spillway.  The channel continued to develop until it connected to the Mississippi River in March of 2012 and formed a new distributary of the Mississippi River, dubbed Mardi Gras Pass. 
LPBF initiated a program to monitor the development and changes in geomorphology, hydrology and biology of Mardi Gras Pass in April 2012.  The monitoring program includes high precision bank and bathymetric, discharge, biological and fate of sediment and nutrient surveys.    In collecting and analyzing this data, LPBF has been able to document and quantify the development of the new distributary pass and propose possible projections on future development.  The great value of this is to study the river’s natural process so that it might be emulated elsewhere with constructed diversion for coastal restoration. 

 

The Bohemia Spillway provides an amazing glimpse into the past to how river systems historically functioned during flooding events.   The Mississippi River is leveed along most of its length and completely leveed along in the 953 miles from Cairo, Illinois to the mouth of the river, except at the eleven mile long Bohemia Spillway.  The construction of the Bohemia Spillway, on the east bank of the Mississippi River about 35 miles southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana, was completed in the fall of 1926 by the Orleans Levee District with the removal of the artificial Mississippi River levees, and remarkably just two months before the onset of the Great Flood of 1927.  Henceforth, during high river stages, the natural levee is over topped and river water flows into the spillway, simulating a somewhat natural condition before levee construction.  Because the Bohemia Spillway may be instructive to coastal restoration, LPBF has been investigating the Bohemia Spillway since 2007. Insights gained from the study of the Bohemia Spillway will inform coastal restoration techniques in southern Louisiana and can be instructive to river management around the world.

 

Blue Moon Cruise

blue moon

 

Estuaries are partially enclosed bodies of water where fresh and salt water mix.  Worldwide, estuaries represent some of the most productive places on earth, acting as nurseries for important fisheries, providing habitat for resident and migratory birds and supporting organisms and material (such as phytoplankton and detritus) that form the basis of important food webs.  Estuaries also support large human populations and economies because of the high productivity. Of the 32 largest cities in the world, 22 are located on estuaries.   The Pontchartrain Estuary, located in southeastern Louisiana, is an important nursery area for Gulf of Mexico estuarine-dependent commercial fisheries.  LPBF conducted the first “Estuary Cruise” through the Pontchartrain Estuary to collect biological and water quality information for a snapshot of the estuary over a 3-week period in June, 2013.  The cruise involved the collaboration and coordination of four different sampling efforts for: (1) benthic organisms and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV); (2) oyster; (3) nekton and blue crab; (4) basin-wide water quality.  The cruise collected data spanning from the freshest to the most saline portions of the estuary.  Data collected from this cruise will be compared to historical fisheries and water quality data to determine and quantify the changes in species composition, abundance, health, and overall water quality.

 

Hypoxia – East Side of Mississippi River

hypoxia pic

 

Hypoxia, the condition of low dissolved oxygen in lakes and coastal waters is a problem in estuaries worldwide.  Often caused by excess nutrients entering the estuary from agriculture and other human activities, hypoxia can stress estuarine organisms, especially benthic organisms that are immobile.  In southern Louisiana there has been yearly documentation of a dead zone near the mouth of the Mississippi River.  However, hypoxia was also detected in Chandeleur Sound in 2008.  Since this time, the Coastal Sustainability Program has monitored water quality in, and around, Chandeleur Sound to locate areas hypoxia.  LPBF has monitored water quality for hypoxia in the Chandeleur Sound since 2010.  The cumulative observations to date provide evidence that suggests the seasonal development of bottom hypoxia on a yearly basis.
Hypoxia, the condition of low dissolved oxygen in lakes and coastal waters is a problem in estuaries worldwide.  Often caused by excess nutrients entering the estuary from agriculture and other human activities, hypoxia can stress estuarine organisms, especially benthic organisms that are immobile.  In southern Louisiana there has been yearly documentation of a dead zone near the mouth of the Mississippi River.  However, hypoxia was also detected in Chandeleur Sound in 2008.  Since this time, the Coastal Sustainability Program has monitored water quality in, and around, Chandeleur Sound to locate areas hypoxia.  LPBF has monitored water quality for hypoxia in the Chandeleur Sound since 2010.  The cumulative observations to date provide evidence that suggests the seasonal development of bottom hypoxia on a yearly basis.

 

MRGO - Mississippi River Gulf Outlet

mergo pic

Large public works projects can be very beneficial economically but disastrous for the surrounding environment.  The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) was constructed to provide a shorter navigation route between the Gulf of Mexico and the Port of New Orleans.  The construction of the MRGO began in the 1958 and was completed by 1968.  The navigation canal was constructed by converting 20,000 acres of marsh to open water as well as destroying 7,600 acres with associated activity.  Over time, the canal continued to impact wetlands and swamps through direct loss due to channel erosion and indirect loss through saltwater intrusion.  The channel has grown to over three times the original width in some locations.  During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the channel acted as a funnel for storm surge into the Lower Ninth Ward and surrounding neighborhoods.  The channel was legally de-authorized by congress and closed in 2009 by placing a rock dam along the Bayou La Loutre Ridge.  LPBF was instrumental in pushing for the closure and locating the closure along the ridge, which is a storm surge reduction feature on the landscape and is slated for restoration in the 2012 Louisiana State Coastal Master Plan.  LPBF continues to advocate for wetland restoration in areas impacted by the MRGO. 

 

Central Wetlands Unit Monitoring

Central Wetlands Unit Monitoring

 

 

Due to their proximity to local communities in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish, the Central wetlands have special historical and cultural significance.  The ghost swamp in the Triangle area adjacent to the Lower Ninth ward has an accessible platform and signage which describes the tragic conditions of our coast and is located just minutes from downtown New Orleans.   The 30,000 acres of the Central Wetlands area is within the newly built hurricane surge defense system that surrounds New Orleans and much of developed St. Bernard Parish. 

The most recent impact to the Central wetlands was due to the completion of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (Link to MRGO page here).   The Central Wetlands, located near New Orleans, Louisiana, experienced saltwater intrusion from the MRGO , is impounded on all sides by levees and has sub units within the wetlands that are also impounded due to canal construction and associated spoil banks.  Numerous wetland restoration projects are under consideration for this area which is adjacent to several communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina. LPBF is engaged in studying the soil salinity and hydrology throughout the Central Wetlands.  LPBF has drafted a restoration plan for the Central Wetlands which will be revised as data are collected.  The goal is to ensure that maximum data is available from which to plan a successful restoration effort.  Historically, much of the Central Wetlands were cypress-tupelo swamp, however the data thus far indicates that the soil salinities in the majority of the Central Wetlands are too high to support cypress-tupelo swamp restoration. 

 

Caernarvon Delta Complex

delta complex

In southern Louisiana, land loss rates are high and areas of delta growth have generally been limited to the Atchafalaya Delta and the Bird’s Foot Delta.  However, extremely rare development of a new delta complex is occurring due to the small, artificial Caernarvon freshwater river diversion.  The Caernarvon Diversion was built to divert freshwater and limit the capture of sediment.  However, new land has been accreting in two areas of Big Mar in the receiving basin of the Caernarvon freshwater diversion. The entire system is referred to as the Caernarvon Delta Complex. The emergence of new land offers an opportunity to preview many State Master Plan initiatives, which rely heavily on river diversions. In the last four years, LPBF has helped carry several wetland tree plantings in Big Mar and surrounding areas as part of a broader reforestation effort to restore coastal Louisiana. These may be the only systematic tree plantings on an actively forming delta in the state of Louisiana. Data from our tree monitoring program will help us understand ecological changes associated with diversion projects and enable us to modify our approach in the future for maximum benefit. 

 

Northshore

northshore pic

 

Population growth and community expansion continues worldwide.  Urbanization often occurs at the expense of natural ecosystems.  The Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain is currently one of the fastest growing communities in Louisiana.  Population in Tangipahoa Parish increase 23% from 2000 to 2012 and in St. Tammany Parish increase by 25% over the same time period, with a large population influx after Hurricane Katrina.  From 1982 to 2000, urbanization was responsible for the loss of 5,400 acres of marsh, 6,700 acres of wetland forest and 30,630 acres of upland forest.  There are efforts on the Northshore for restoration, conservation and land acquisition to protect the important ecosystems and habitats in the region. However, further action on the Northshore is needed now. With expanding populations causing pressure for development and synergistic anthropogenic and natural activities stressing natural ecosystems, people must begin to think about conservation and restoration as a necessary part of community planning. The Northshore has a chance to include the environment and natural areas as part of community and urban planning in order to simultaneously expand the population and economy and protect the natural areas that attracted people to the area in the first place.

 

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"Louisiana has many wonderful resources, and its citizens are chief among those.  We are grateful for our compassionate, unselfish and caring volunteers who give their time and talent to improving the lives of every person.  They are the backbone of our state and set the standard for all of us."

 

 

 

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