[Federal Register Volume 65, Number 83 (Friday, April 28, 2000)]
[Notices]
[Pages 24944-24945]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 00-10640]


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DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers


Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) 
for Barrier Shoreline Restoration in Lafourche, Jefferson, and 
Plaquemines Parishes, Louisiana, a Component of the Louisiana Coastal 
Area, Louisiana--Ecosystem Restoration, Barrier Island Restoration, 
Marsh Creation, and River Diversion, Barataria Basin Feasibility Study

AGENCY: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

ACTION: Notice of intent.

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SUMMARY: Pursuant to section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, the Army Corps of Engineers 
(COE), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of the Interior, 
Minerals Management Service, will prepare a draft environmental impact 
statement (EIS) to analyze the direct and indirect beneficial and 
adverse impacts of implementing barrier shoreline restoration in 
Lafourche, Jefferson, and Plaquemines Parishes, Louisiana.
    The purpose of the proposed action is as follows: (1) In general, 
the purpose of the Coast 2050 Plan is to sustain a coastal ecosystem 
that supports and protects the environment, economy, and culture of 
southern Louisiana, and that contributes greatly to the economy and 
well-being of the nation; (2) the purpose of the Coast 2050 strategies 
for the Barataria Basin is to restore and/or protect the natural and 
human environment to create a sustainable ecosystem in the Barataria 
Basin within the context of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, including 
coastal Louisiana; and (3) the purpose of the Coast 2050 Plan's barrier 
island restoration strategy for the Barataria Basin (R2-22 strategy) is 
to provide and sustain the unique ecological integrity of barrier 
islands, headlands, and shoreline. Habitats of concern include 
shoreface, beach, dune, maritime forest, back-barrier marsh, bays, and 
passes.
    The proposed action would consist of the reformation of the barrier 
shoreline from the Caminada-Moreau Headland at the mouth of Bayou 
Lafourche to Sandy Point, Louisiana.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions regarding the EIS may be 
directed to Mr. Robert Martinson, CEMVN-PM-RS, U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, P.O. Box 60267, New Orleans, Louisiana 70160-0267, 
telephone: (504) 862-2582.
    Questions regarding the proposed action may be directed to Mr. 
Edmond Russo, CEMVN-PM-C, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, P.O. Box 60267, 
New Orleans, Louisiana 70160-0267, telephone: (504) 862-1496.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Louisiana Department of Natural 
Resources produced a document entitled ``Coast 2050: Toward a 
Sustainable Coastal Louisiana in 1998.'' That document presented 
strategies jointly developed by Federal, state, and local levels to 
address Louisiana's massive coastal land loss problem and provide for a 
sustainable coastal ecosystem by the year 2050. The Louisiana 
Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) conducted a feasibility study of 
barrier shorelines that was completed in March 1999 that focused on 
barrier shoreline loss and developed several alternatives to address 
the problem. These two efforts culminated in a joint agreement between 
the Corps of Engineers and the LDNR to evaluate selected features of 
the Coast 2050 Plan in a Federal feasibility study.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action would consist of the reformation of the barrier 
shoreline from the Caminada-Moreau Headland at the mouth of Bayou 
Lafourche on the west to Sandy Point on the east. The shoreline would 
have the ecological attributes of shoreface, beach, dune, maritime 
forest if possible, back-barrier marsh, bays, and passes. The 
reformation work could extend Gulfward to approximately the -5.0 foot 
contour and up to about 1,000 feet in the bayside direction from the 
edge of the back-barrier marsh.
    On the eastern fringe where a large distance has opened between 
remnant barrier islands and interior marsh, work could extend into the 
bays up to about 2,500 feet. Larger passes such as Barataria Pass would 
be left open. Smaller passes may be closed. Sand for reformation would 
be obtained from nearby coastal bays, the Mississippi River, or from 
Federal and state waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A combination of sand 
sources may be used for restoration of these features. If sand is 
obtained from Federal waters, a non-competitive lease would need to be 
obtained by the LDNR from the Minerals Management Service. The Minerals 
Management Service will ensure that information needed by them to make 
a decision about a lease will be included in the EIS. Also, the 
benefits of providing geomorphic features at the barrier

[[Page 24945]]

shoreline to inland areas will be considered in the EIS.

Alternatives

    The no-action alternative must be evaluated and retained throughout 
the study. Additionally, the Barataria Basin portion of the recommended 
plan from the LDNR Barrier Shoreline Feasibility Study will be 
investigated. The recommended plan from that study would rebuild dunes 
at the Caminada-Moreau Headland. The recommendation from that study for 
the Plaquemines shoreline from Grand Terre to east of Sandy Point is to 
recreate a dune and marsh platform stabilized with a rock revetment 
along the gulf shoreline. In addition, another alternative to be 
evaluated in detail is expected to be developed during the scoping 
process.

Need for Action

    The focus for initial action is in the Barataria Basin (in 
Lafourche, Jefferson, and Plaquemines parishes), Louisiana, one of nine 
basins delineated in the Coast 2050 Plan. The Barataria Basin has a 
very high rate of wetland loss, estimated at about 11 square miles per 
year from 1978-1990 (Fuller et al. 1995). The area also has tremendous 
potential for restoration because of nearby sediment in coastal bays, 
the Mississippi River, and in Federal and state waters of the Gulf of 
Mexico. While the ultimate goal for coastal restoration under the Coast 
2050 plan is to implement strategies throughout coastal Louisiana, the 
Barataria Basin is in dire need of immediate attention. While most 
Barataria Basin strategies are dependent on the overall input, 
movement, and circulation of water, sediment, and nutrients in the 
basin, there are several strategies that can be implemented largely 
independent of these considerations. The barrier shoreline restoration 
strategy is one of those strategies. Restoration of barrier islands, 
headlands, and shoreline can be applied as a separable activity, 
independent of other strategies in the Barataria Basin and coastal 
Louisiana.
    The barrier shoreline system in Barataria Basin begins about 45 
miles northwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and forms a 
concave arch of about 53 miles along the Gulf of Mexico at the southern 
end of the Barataria Basin. Barrier islands, headlands, and shoreline 
can offer unique ecological characteristics with an assemblage of 
intertidal bottoms, beaches, dunes, shrub thickets, and salt marshes 
not found in interior wetlands. The assemblage of plants and animals is 
different than in any other area of the basin. Some of the species are 
endemic to barrier areas. A variety of seabirds, wading birds, and 
shore birds such as black skimmer, reddish egret, the threatened piping 
plover, and least tern can utilize barrier islands. The islands can 
serve as a protection zone for many species of fish, resting areas for 
migrating birds, nesting locations for birds such as the endangered 
brown pelican, and nesting beaches for threatened and endangered sea 
turtles.
    The barrier areas in Barataria Basin from Bayou Lafourche to Sandy 
Point have undergone significant movement and reduction in size during 
the past 100 years. While some lateral movement of barrier areas is 
expected as sand is reworked in the nearshore environment, the 
Barataria Basin barrier areas have retreated and narrowed rapidly, 
symptoms of a sediment-poor system. Tidal passes that have opened in 
the islands during the passage of storms do not reseal in fair weather 
(Levin 1993). Islands have diminished in size (narrowed) to the point 
that they are likely to vanish in the near future. For example, it is 
predicted that Grand Terre Island may be gone by 2008 (McBride et al. 
1992). Overall, the Barataria barrier islands decreased in area by 47 
percent from the 1890s to 1988 (Fuller et al. 1995).
    The Caminada-Moreau Headland, forming the western portion of the 
Barataria barrier system, has experienced some of the highest rates of 
shoreline movement on the Louisiana or Gulf coast. Between 1978 and 
1988, the shoreline on the Barataria coast retreated at a rate of 45 
feet/year. The shoreline has retreated over one mile in some locations 
from 1887-1988 (McBride et al. 1992). The Plaquemines Barrier System in 
the eastern portion of the system retreated at an average rate of 33 
feet/year from 1973-1988. In 1884, Grand Terre Island was 4,198 acres 
with an average width of 2,982 feet, but by 1988, it was only 1,268 
acres with an average width of 1,740 feet. Shell Island was 314 acres 
with a width of 446 feet. In 1988, it was 171 acres and 345 feet in 
width (McBride et al. 1992). The shoreline has retreated 0.5-0.75 miles 
over a large part of the Plaquemines Barrier System.
    Many of the barrier areas in Barataria Basin have become nothing 
more than fragmented, low mounds of sand, easily overwashed by minor 
storm events, maintaining little ecological value. As the barrier areas 
become narrower and disintegrate, bays and wetlands behind the barriers 
become more directly connected with the Gulf of Mexico and its 
associated wave action and higher salinity water. The implications of 
these changes for coastal industries and communities are severe even 
without the threat of hurricane surge and waves. Action to restore 
barrier areas has become critical.

Fuller, D.A., J.G. Gosselink, J. Barras, and C.E. Sasser. 1995. 
Physical Setting. pp. 9-23. In: D.J. Reed (ed.) Current Status and 
Historical Trends of Hydrological Modification, Reduction in 
Sediment Availability, and Habitat Loss/Modification in the 
Barataria-Terrebonne Estuarine System. BTNEP No. 20. Barataria 
Terrebonne National Estuary Program, Thibodaux, LA.
Levin, D.R. 1993. Tidal inlet evolution in the Mississippi River 
delta plain. Journal of Coastal Research 9.2:462-480.
McBride, R.A., S. Penland, M.W. Hiland, S.J. Williams, K.A. 
Westphal, B.E. Jaffe, and A.H. Sallenger, Jr. 1992. Analysis of 
barrier shoreline change in Louisiana from 1853 to 1989. pp. 36-97 
In: S.J. Williams, S. Penland, and A.H. Sallenger (eds.) Louisiana 
Barrier Island Erosion Study, Atlas of Shoreline Changes in 
Louisiana from 1853 to 1989. U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous 
Investigations Series I-2150-A.

Scoping

    The Corps of Engineers and LDNR invite NEPA input in writing or 
in person concerning the scope of the EIS, resources to be 
evaluated, and alternatives to be considered. Individuals, groups, 
and agencies can write comments to the Corps of Engineers using Mr. 
Martinson's address shown above. The Corps of Engineers and LDNR 
plan to hold a scoping meeting in Thibodaux, Louisiana on June 8, 
2000 from 7-10 pm in the Century Room of the John L. Guidry Stadium 
located on Audubon Drive of Nicholls State University Campus, 
Thibodaux, LA 70301. The entrance to the Century Room is a red door 
under the stadium. Additional meetings with local interests will be 
held after the scoping meeting as necessary.
    A draft EIS is scheduled to be available for public review 
during March of 2001. A public meeting on the draft EIS will be 
scheduled at that time.

Dale A. Knieriemen,
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Acting District Engineer.
[FR Doc. 00-10640 Filed 4-27-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3710-84-U