Rabbit Island Restoration
Weeks was brought on by the CPRA to restore the only pelican nesting habitat west of the Atchafalaya River, and one of the few remaining colonial waterbird rookeries along the Louisiana coast. The goal was to reinstate 88 acres of elevated habitat that had been washed away due to tidal conditions, wave action, and hurricane storms, creating mostly a bird habitat and including some marsh area. Previously this island had housed pelicans and wading nesting birds, and recently the population had begun to decrease due to the inundation of water.
The unique project circumstances posed various challenges. The island is in the middle of oyster beds, so Weeks installed a turbidity curtain along the access corridor to the island so as to not disturb the oyster beds. In order to get the material to the island from the CR McCaskill 30” Cutter Suction Dredge that was dredging material from the shipping channel, steel pipe needed to be laid, but the reality of the tides and shallowness of the water made this challenging. All the same, we were able to operate within right tide windows which also had to be coordinated with the owner to minimize turbidity. Additionally, Hurricane Laura hit soon after the project had mobilized and so we had to adapt with flexibility to the post-storm landscape, re-installing elements of the turbidity curtain and dealing with increased debris in the water.
Only three months post completion it was documented that over 2,000 nests of different wading birds and shorebird had found their way into the restored area. (200 Brown Pelican nests were documented prior to the peak of nesting season, the pelicans were the birds of concern for this island/work)