(WVUE) - It is some of the newest land on earth, and today the Army Corps of Engineers was showing it off for southern Plaquemines Parish. It's called the Spanish Pass Ridge project, and it's about to enter a new phase near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
For the past several months, engineers have been pumping in millions of cubic yards of dredge material from Pass-a-Loutre and transporting it using pipeline and barges. It's the latest project in lower Plaquemines, designed to strengthen a weakened coast.
"It creates marsh, which helps the environment and provides additional protection for the surrounding areas," said James McManis with the Louisiana Coastal Protection Authority.
Massive dredges pull up millions of cubic yards of sediment from one of the river's main passes. It's then barged to a location 2 miles away, and then pumped into two large pipelines where it is sent to Spanish Pass.
"These two areas will create 23 acres, and it will grow overtime," said Matt Roe with the Army Corps of Engineers.
At a height of 6 feet, it is some of the highest land around, all made possible with the help of financing from the Army Corps of Engineers, the state, and seed money from Plaquemines Parish.
"They were the catalyst. They saw this as a historic area, so they wanted it rebuilt," said Roe.
The Corps would ultimately like to repair about 13 miles of the Spanish Pass Ridge. Coupled with the extensive West Bay Reclamation Area nearby, they have created more than 250 acres using sediment that used to run off into the Gulf of Mexico.
"We have a dredge that maintains the shipping channel, and they store the dredge material, and when the funding comes through, it's used for projects like this," said Roe.
Spanish Pass is one of dozens of new projects being guided by a master plan developed by the Coastal Protection Authority.
"To date, 41,000 acres of land has been created since CPR's inception," said McManis.
And with the help of Deep Water Horizon money, the state says there will be many more projects like this on the way.
The Corps would like to see vegetation grow here quickly to help hold the soil in place. Though they have planted it in the past, they say Mother Nature will take over quickly, and vegetation will solidify the newly created land.
State coastal experts say local participation from Plaquemines Parish was key to getting this project off the ground.