August 31, 2013 – August Update – new breakwater

Dredge and Rainey Report
August Update

August 31, 2013

Summary of accomplishments:

  • No dredging
  • Cell 3 averages marsh level or above
  • New OysterBreak off the Sagrera beach
  • Guesthouse work

This report can be downloaded in PDF file format by clicking the Dredge and Rainey Report, new breakwater hyperlink.

Summary:
With C3 full, we took a break from dredging to concentrate on other Sanctuary issues. There were a couple of weeks when I did not go to the Sanctuary for one reason or another.

August 13-14, 2013 – OysterBreak and Plover Survey

On August 7-8, 2013, I attended a workshop on artificial oyster reefs sponsored by the Lake Pontchartrain Foundation. In a discussion with Tyler Ortego, and engineer for Wayfarer, I was made aware that the artificial oyster reef being constructed by their company off of Chenier au Tigre next to the Rainey beach was due to be finished this week. I arranged to observe their operation with the project manager.

Tuesday, August 13 – Timmy picked me up from the dock in the flat boat at 8:00, we stopped briefly at the house for me to drop gear and to load up the 4-wheeler onto the Goose. By 9:30, we were on the Gulf beach and could see the work barge and a line of breakwaters to the east. We traveled down the beach to a point opposite the work area to watch them work for a little while, but no one seemed to notice us.

Figure 1. When we made it to the beach, we could see the barge a distance to our east, and traveled down the beach to a point opposite the work barge.

We decided to run a plover survey first since water level conditions were good for that. The tour of the beach revealed relatively few shorebirds, a salt-water cow on the tombolo behind one of our breakwaters, a suspicious looking water-logged package that had washed ashore, lots of litter, and a few Wilson’s, piping and semi-palmated plovers.

We could see clouds building on the horizon, and as we headed back to the barge, rain showers began to fall. I had planned to wade out to the operation, but a bolt of lightning dissuaded me of that notion and we made a direct run back to the boat and the house.

Figure 2. A wild bull stranded on the exposed land behind the breakwater (left) and the work area being targeted by a rain shower (right).

When the rain cleared later that day, we made a trip to the dredge site to check on conditions. The water level was +2” ML (above marsh level), and a four-some of Black-necked Stilts were enjoying the shallow water.

Figure 3. Four Black-necked Stilts were enjoying the shallow water of Cell 3.

Wednesday, August 14 – Timmy and I made it out to the beach early on the 4-wheeler, and made the artificial oyster reef our priority for the day, so we wouldn’t get caught by weather again. When we arrived, the crew boat and 2 of the crew were working on the pyramid structures at the west end of the breakwater. Once again, they didn’t seem to notice us.

Figure 4. Left - bringing the 4-wheeler to the chenier; and right - the workboat at the west end of the breakwater under construction.

I really wanted to see the operation, so after standing on the beach watching for a while, I stripped down to my bathing suit and water shorts and waded out. It was a long walk, but the water never got higher than my chest. The substrate was surprisingly firm and silty. Timmy stayed with the ATV on the beach.

Apparently, the project manager had not relayed the information that we would be coming (which explains yesterday as well), so Randy (boat pilot) and two men who were at work in the water were a bit surprised when they finally noticed me. In a confused tone of voice the boat pilot asked “Do you want a ride?” After a brief introduction, he invited me aboard and we had a great show and tell. After they finished the task at hand, and the two fellows in the water climbed aboard, he took me for a ride along the entire structure.

The project is in two parts – the east section is made of the typical OysterBreak interlocking ring structures, and the west section is constructed out of a new design of interlocking pyramids. Both are intended to host oysters that would cement the structures together, shed shell to armor the beach, provide habitat, and keep up with sea level rise. The stack of pyramids you could see from the beach were only temporarily stored there, waiting for the supply barge to return with another load. The entire line was intended to be near mean water level.

As soon as each unit was placed, it was under attack by waves, and some of the units were already tilting, possibly because of an uneven bottom. They put a geo-textile down first to spread the weight of the concrete structures and help prevent them from sinking into the substrate. The fellows told me it was already accreting material behind the structure to a depth of 8 inches or so. It will be very interesting to watch what results from this effort.

Figure 5. The west end of the continuous breakwater was constructed of interlocking, hollow pyramids.

Figure 6. The east end of the continuous breakwater was constructed of the typical OysterBreak interlocking rings.

After I took enough pictures and satisfied my curiosity on the process, they took me ashore to rejoin Timmy. Their boat was very shallow draft, and the bow reached the beach so that I stepped off onto dry sand.

Figure 7. The guys pulled right up to the beach for me to disembark. The long breakwater can be seen in the background.

I changed back into dry clothes, and we headed down the beach to count plovers to the west. We didn’t make it all the way to the end, however, because of incoming thunderclouds. Once again we had to make a dash back to the boat and house. Another afternoon was spent in the guesthouse, finishing up the kitchenette sink and bathroom before I had to head back.

Figure 8. Racing back along our track, we did our best to beat the rain to the boat.

Figure 9. More progress was made in the guesthouse.

August 27-28, 2013 – Guesthouse construction

This week was a quick trip for me. Timmy picked me up on Tuesday and took me back on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 27 – I spent almost the whole day on the floor in the guesthouse. I vacuumed up all of the dead roaches first, and worked my way across the floor scrubbing glue, paint and mud off of the tile. Before I left, I sprayed the whole thing down again with roach poison. Timmy spent the day mowing and trimming the yard and the cross canal clearings.

Wednesday, August 28 – Timmy took me back to dock on his way to pick up another Audubon employee from the Lafayette airport. We would all meet again at a meeting of the Rainey Conservation Alliance the following day.

 

 

Karen A Westphal and Timmy J Vincent, National Audubon Society
Audubon Louisiana and the Paul J Rainey Wildlife Refuge
6160 Perkins Road, Suite 215, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
225-768-0921x202 office, kwestphal@audubon.org
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