The Barataria Basin is one of the nation’s most productive estuaries. The basin is bounded on the north and east sides by man-made levees along the Mississippi River, to the west by Bayou Lafourche and to the south by barrier islands. The ecosystems in the Barataria Basin provide a vital storm surge buffer for communities on the west bank of the river and in Plaquemines Parish.
The basin hosts a variety of coastal habitats, including bottomland hardwood forests, swamps, marshes ranging from fresh to saltwater, bays and barrier islands. The basin also contains the Barataria Preserve, which is the only natural area on the Louisiana coast that is part of the National Park system.
Starved of sediment, habitats throughout the estuary system are collapsing. In the upper basin, cypress trees stand in stagnant waters, too deep for new trees to sprout, while freshwater marshes are converting to floating peat in the absence of a sediment source. The sediment-starved marshes in the mid-basin have all but disintegrated.
The priority projects chosen for this basin include two sediment diversions, Mid-Barataria and Ama, and the rebuilding of a key marsh area in the mid-basin via the Large-scale Barataria Marsh Creation project. The marsh creation will accelerate land building from the diversions, and the diversions will maintain and create a diversity of wetland types over time. These projects can work in concert to protect the upper basin’s freshwater wetlands, enhance storm surge protection and reintroduce annual infusions of fresh water, sediment and nutrients to build land and sustain existing wetlands throughout the basin.