Timbalier Island is a barrier island in the southern
extent of Terrebonne bay in Terrebonne parish. It is an important
economic resource for the marine fishing industry of Louisiana.
Its back marshes provide habitat for countless mollusks, shellfish,
and fish species. The waters around Timbalier island are particularly
noted for the speckled trout and it is said that they are the most
productive in all of the Gulf, compared to all other places combined
|The Breaux Act task force has been granted funding
for four restoration projects focused on Timbalier Island since 1991.
Aside from one project which focused solely on marsh grass plantings
and sand dune fences they have all been projects that involve the
deposit of dredged sediment in the hopes that land would be created
and stabilized between the East and West halves of Timbalier. The
first project (TE-18),
was a demonstrative planting and sand fence construction. Because
of several hurricanes, tropical storms and severe weather events
that disturbed the project it was deemed unsuccessful by the monitoring
committee in their final progress report. They cited their opinion,
"the only way to maintain a vegetated dune on Louisiana's barrier
islands is through the maintenance of a beach wide enough to dissipate
wave energies" (Clark et. al, 2000).
The second and third projects on Timbalier Island (TE-25 &
both completed in 2000 and were both phases in a large dredging and
sediment pumping operation. Aside from a combined use of 2.8 million
cubic yards of material phase one and phase two of the joint project
involved at least one more restoration strategy, plantings and sand
fence and an offshore rubble mound to serve as breakwaters respectively.
These two projects are both being called successful.
|Another dredging project on Timbalier Island (TE-40),
is also shaping up to be a large successes as a result of positive
criticism and experience from the previous projects. It involves
the creation of more land, between the two halves and behind (on
the bay side) the island in the form of marsh. Along with the production
of beaches and marsh land through the addition of three million more
cubic yards of sand the project also allows for more plantings and
dune fencing. Approved in 2000, TE-40 was delayed by a single
land owner who objected to the construction, and again in 2001 by
several hurricanes. Eventually the project proceeded and was recently
completed in January of 2005. Reportedly it was a great
success by creating some eleven-thousand feet of shoreline at a width
of around 1500 feet. Although there will be no official evaluation
of the projects ability to meet objectives until 2007, USEPA and
LADNR officials are “almost giddy” (Wold,
Isle Dernieres was once a single barrier island,
in 1856 a hurricane changed all that and made the land mass change
into five smaller islands, East, Trinity, Whiskey, Raccoon, and
of its relative size there has been no priority projects proposed
to date focusing on Wine Island and the bulk of the projects focus
on Whisky Island and Raccoon Island. Whisky Island is already considered
a wildlife refuge and bird sanctuary by the Department of Wildlife
and Fisheries (Dunne, 1998), probably for its large population
of brown pelicans. The Louisiana state bird that is now on the
rebound from near extinction.
|Following the assessment of the breakwaters project
and the successes of the Timbalier Island dredging projects it was
another land creation operation should take place on Racoon Island
This project will involve dredged material depositing, planting
of native marsh grass and the construction of dune fencing, it is
currently in construction.
|There has been recent focus on Whiskey Islands and
recently there have been two projects approved that are still
in the engineering and design
phases (TE-47 & TE-50).
The single project that has been completed on Whisky island (TE-27) was
a joint dredging, planting, dune fence project and there are no publicly
available progress reports on it to date. This projects
dredged material was deposited in the back bay marsh portion of the
island and not on the frontal beach section. There was a portion
of the frontal area where they deposited sand and that is where the
gulf had breached the island and had penetrated to the back bay.
It would be nice to see if further study shows
this to be a worthwhile restoration strategy.