Two Years Ago, This Land Didn’t Exist

It's a very exciting time on an uninhabited stretch of coastal marshland approximately two-and-a-half miles from Louisiana's Jefferson Canal landing near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Two years ago, this land didn't exist. What was once open water is now soil and grass populated by nesting birds and watermelons planted by the same team members who helped create this land.

What's so Important About Lake Hermitage?

Ike Mayer of BCG and Jerri Daniels of Dewberry standing on new Louisiana coastal land in August 2013. BCG and Dewberry were joint venture partners on this project.

This 650-acre marshland is known as Lake Hermitage. It and others like it exist as a buffer between natural disasters and low-lying coastal states like Louisiana. Imagine a mighty storm with 30-foot waves slamming into unprotected shoreline. They smash with enough force to rattle your teeth a mile away before retreating back to the ocean. The undertow rakes the ground and carries whatever it dislodges with it into the ocean. These wetlands spare the inland population from the brunt of wave surges, but at a cost of 20- to 25-square-miles of coastland a year.

Historically, these wetlands were the result of the Mississippi River's annual flooding. After exceeding its banks, the river would flood the surrounding area and deposit sediment when it retreated back to its channel. The sediment would then settle and create coastal marshes. Today's levees keep us safe from floods, but also inhibit the natural creation of such land. So, the responsibility to assist Mother Nature falls to us.

To an Outline from a Pipeline

The berm sits on the bottom of the waterway and comes three feet out of the water.

We assist the natural process by hydraulically dredging material from a borrow source - the Mississippi River in this case - and depositing it in a fill area. A mini-levee, known as a containment dike or berm, determines the edge of the marshland and the final destination of the dredged material. To get there, the material is pumped through 34,775 feet of pipe that runs over a levee, under a highway, and out to our project site.

Sediment is pushed to the project site through a 24-inch diameter pipeline.

The soil and water mixture, known as dredge slurry, shoots out the pipe's mouth where we move, push, and compact it until it fills the area within the berm. At Lake Hermitage, we've filled the first half of the 650-acre project, and our teaming partners are already working on filling the second area.

Why is the Louisiana Coast so Important?

The Lake Hermitage marshland.

The people down here are generational. They love this land and are very successful supporting themselves on the centuries-old industries of alligator hunting and oyster fishing. However, this culture is reliant on a very delicate ecosystem, one that could simply wash away.

A Louisiana State University study, prepared for the state's Department of Natural Resources, monetized the impact of lost Louisiana commercial fishing due to coastline erosion. If continued unchecked through 2026, the United States will lose $66 million in revenue that year alone, while citizens across the nation would lose $16.9 million in earnings. Those numbers don't even count the 16,000 jobs, $313 million in earnings, and $957.6 million in sales that would be lost in additional impacts to the recreational market.

We as a company are doing what we can to protect the people, culture, and natural habitats of the entire Gulf Coast. We're building relationships with groups like the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and have leadership who are passionate about solving the area’s toughest problems.

We want Gulf communities to come out of these situations with the capacity to prove their resilience for generations to come, and the new Lake Hermitage marshland is one more step towards that goal.

  • Jerri Daniels
    Jerri Daniels
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