Hurricane Isaac deals blow to two critical bird nesting islands

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 4, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 5 at 7:00 AM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

CAT BAY, La. -- On Cat Island East, the evidence of nesting birds remains on what is left of the island.

"Before Isaac, it was beautiful," said Plaquemines Parish Coastal Director P.J. Hahn.

Two months ago, Hahn showed Eyewitness News the birds and nests, which were holding on to the less-than-one acre that remained of the island after the BP oil spill. Hurricane Isaac then created more problems.

"[The eggs and chicks] all got washed away," he said. "We lost a lot of birds out here."

That's not all: the changes are easy to spot on nearby Cat Island West. This summer mangroves with pelican nests thrived there, but the storm wreaked havoc on them as well. It also changed the composition of the island itself, by splitting it in half.

"These islands are not in any type of plan to be rebuilt," Hahn said.

The parish currently has $3 million it received from various sources to rebuild the islands. Officials have been pushing for a permit to rebuild both islands back up to 15 acres each. This week, the state approved the plan for Cat Island East.

"I think the island is going to be okay," Hahn said. "We still have time to save it."

State officials, though, said the islands' needs show why long-term plans need to be put in place.

"The key to long-term sustainability is reconnecting the Mississippi River with those adjacent areas-- allowing sediment out, allowing fresh water out, to replenish, renourish those wetland areas, those barrier islands," said Garret Graves, chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

As for Cat Island West, its rebuilding permit is still pending and is currently undergoing a 30-day public review. If approved, crews could begin working on both of the islands by early next year.

 

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