New Orleans, La. — John Lopez dreams of creating a little slice of Louisiana nature in the heart of the city.
Within the next several weeks, at the mouth of Bayou St. John, a contractor will dredge a small channel to better connect the bayou with Lake Pontchartrain.
Dr. Lopez, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, sees a unique opportunity to take advantage of the mud. The Foundation is spearheading a $50,000 project to build a half-acre wetland area in Bayou St. John near the lakefront.
"We need to build a dyke so that when they place the material, it won't just slump off and just wash away," Lopez said.
Sometime this fall, Lopez said, they plan to plant marsh grass to keep the sediment in place.
The project's footprint may be small, but Lopez sees a unique opportunity: "This marsh is in the middle of a ten-mile concrete sea wall along Lake Pontchartrain." He envisions a "very special area, where you'll have some of that natural habitat."
Lopez noted the small effort is the type of project that coastal scientists and engineers plan to build on a much larger scale, "a little piece of restoration that people can come and see and look at and feel here New Orleans."
A later phase could involve signage and a boardwalk