The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program has acquired the permits to begin the rebuilding of the northern tip of Mon Louis Island at the mouth of Fowl River.
The area is in a critical condition at the moment due to erosion. Construction will begin this week and will include two phases:
First a continuous rock breakwater structure will be built along the 1995 footprint of the shoreline, tying back into the island. It will be around 1,500 feet long from the northernmost part of the island, tying into an existing property directly south of the project.
After the wall is complete Orion Marine Construction will dredge material from the Fowl River disposal area and pump it over the wall to fill it in, creating around four acres of restored marsh. The plan is to build the marsh above grade, due to the excessive amount sand settles, and then plant native species in the restored area after the settling is complete.
The dredge will then move into the Fowl River navigation channel and dredge it down to 11 feet deep. Using that material, they will replace the borrowed material used to build the marsh.
Phase two will include the final grading of the new wetland area, the placement of a tidal creek and the planting of native species.
MBNEP Watershed Protection Coordinator Tom Herder said that people aren’t able to get in and out of the inlet like they used to.
“With this project a much needed navigation channel maintenance can be coordinated with hazard mitigation and habitat creation efforts,” he said.
The $2.2 million project has been funded by two different sources: $1.4 million will come from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit fund, which is money collected from criminal penalties. The other $800,000 came from the State Deepwater Horizon Impact Fund.
The Mobile Bay NEP has had this project in the works for a year and a half, and jumped many hurdles getting it off the ground. According to them this area was in an emergency state in 2014, and instead of just building a wall they wanted to restore wetlands in the process. If a hurricane would have hit us in the last couple of years, they might not have any wetland left to protect.
“The development in the Fowl River watershed isn’t such that it’s all degraded, we’re catching it on the protection side rather than the restoration side,” said Herder.
Thompson Engineering won the design for the project and post construction monitoring will be conducted after completion for the next three to five years.
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