Chandeleur Island Restoration

FY 2025 STATUS Engineering & Design

Type Barrier Island Maintainence

Funding Source(s) NRDA

Estimated Cost In Development

The Chandeleur Islands are a thin chain of unpopulated barrier islands located east of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico. The islands are a world-renowned recreational fishing spot and have historically served as an important storm surge barrier for some of southeast Louisianas most densely populated areas. The Chandeleur Islands are also part of Breton National Wildlife Refuge, the second oldest national wildlife refuge in the U.S., which supports an incredibly diverse group of wildlife and fish species. Over 300,000 migratory birds, including piping plovers, red knots, redhead ducks, and shorebirds, inhabit the islands in a typical year. The islands are notably the only nesting ground in the entire world for the Chandeleur gull.

However, the islands have lost nearly 90% of their landmass over the past 200 years due to intense weather events, including Hurricanes Georges (1998) and Katrina (2005). The islands were also heavily oiled during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, impacting many birds, plants, and aquatic species that inhabited them.

CPRA is currently in the engineering and design phase to restore 13 miles of the Chandeleur Islands. Once complete, restoration will increase overall resiliency and sustainability of these landmasses long term. With full funding in place, the Chandeleur Islands Restoration project will provide significant protection to several coastal communities through a whole ecosystem restoration approach intended to preserve, rebuild, and improve marsh habitat with a special focus on birds, sea turtles, and sea grasses.

Even though it had long been presumed that the Chandeleur Islands were not suitable for nesting sea turtles, CPRA and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) discovered 53 sea turtle crawls in the summer of 2022. This discovery marks the first time in over 75 years that Kemp's ridley turtle hatchlings, the most endangered sea turtle in the world, had been observed on the islands. Further observations in 2023 revealed 54 sea turtle crawls, 12 confirmed nests with eggs, and at least two successful nests. Scientists were even able to capture video documentation of baby Kemps ridley turtles moving from a nest on the Chandeleur Islands into the Gulf of Mexico.