One area along Louisiana's coast comes back from the dead - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

One area along Louisiana's coast comes back from the dead

White Pelicans take flight near the mouth of Empire Canal near Shell Island in Plaquemines Parish White Pelicans take flight near the mouth of Empire Canal near Shell Island in Plaquemines Parish

Empire, La. -- Mitch Jurisich, a third-generation oyster grower, fondly remembers fun times growing up at the family's camp on Shell Island.

"The dune was at least 10, 12 feet high," Jurisich said. "We could hear the Gulf roaring, but you couldn't see the Gulf from the back."

Only weeks ago, all that remained of Shell Island were some tiny patches of green, jutting out of the Gulf.

That has changed dramatically in the last 45 days, as Great Lakes Dredging Company has pumped sand onto the island by a long-distance delivery method.

"The big difference is the sustainability of the island with material built from the Mississippi River," said Ancil Taylor of Bean Dredging Co, which helped construct a back marsh area on Shell Island.

While some coastal projects have been short-lived, quickly eroding into the surrounding waters, Taylor believes Shell Island's prospects are much brighter.

The material was mined from the Mississippi River 22 miles away and pumped to Shell Island with a series of booster pumps.

"I can feel the difference of this material just in the coarseness," Taylor said, who points out material dredged from adjacent areas to projects often prove inferior.

The state employed the same delivery method earlier this year on Scofield Island a couple miles to the south. 

The method, which Taylor points out is used in various places around the world, is new to Louisiana largely because of cost. Scofield Island rang up a $60 million price tag, paid for by money BP allocated for building sand berms to block oil during the 2010 Gulf spill.

The company agreed to the state's request to use leftover funds for the islands, dubbed the "berms to barrier islands" program.

Taylor argues the projects offer bang for the buck since islands built of river material are likely to last several times longer.

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