LAROSE, LA (WAFB) - Along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Larose, there's new promise in the restoration of Louisiana's fragile coast.
It's a stabilization project America's Wetland Foundation believes can be the solution to saving the erosion eating away at the state.
At the center of the project is a product called "Vegetated Ecoshield," a finely woven grid of plastic, embedded with vegetation, that's placed in areas wherever saltwater intrusion has done damage for decades. Martin Ecosystems, a Baton Rouge company, is the manufacturer with recycled plastic water bottles as the key ingredient to the intricate mesh.
A one-mile stretch on the south side of the GIWW is where Delta Farms once thrived. A levee system always in peril now separates the waterway from what looks like a huge lake. You would never know that cotton and sugar cane were once farmed in the area or that homes stood and families lived. There was even a hotel in this now watery section of Larose.
Ted Falgout, the former longtime director of Port Fourchon, whose parents grew up farming this land, said the patchwork levee system is the perfect place to test ecoshield.
"This is one of the harshest environments that you can experience," Falgout said. "You not only have the wind driven waves that every other place has, you have the vessel driven waves and when a large tow comes, you have linear driven waves."
Time and money are two things Louisiana lack in the daunting battle to restore and preserve the coastline.
"It could be a game changer," said Chip Kline, director of the Louisiana Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority (CPRA).
"If successful, this project has the potential of being a win-win in cost and time savings for the state."
The first phase is on the south side of the GIWW. Phase two will be on the north side and begins in a matter of months.