THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University celebrated the rebuilding of the Nicholls Farm bridge on Wednesday, May 18 with project partners ConocoPhillips and the Lafourche Parish Government. The project is considered critical to unlocking the research, educational and ecological potential of the Farm.
The nearly $300,000 bridge replacement project gives Nicholls Biology faculty access to the land on the other side of Bayou Folse, which will be used to grow species of coastal plants and trees to be transferred to our coast.
Over the last two years, key partners have stepped up to help the university address the issue. Lafourche Parish Government donated $200,000 and ConocoPhillips donated an additional $100,000. Without that help the project is likely not finished today, said Dr. Quenton Fontenot, Nicholls Biology department head.
“Our dream for the Farm is a place that brings people together for coastal restoration initiatives, and so to have the support of partners such as ConocoPhillips and the Lafourche Parish Government means we are going to be able to do that,” Dr. Fontenot said.
The university already has several native Louisiana irises ready to plant once they have access to ponds on the other side of the bridge. Through a collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, it will also be planted on land accessible by the bridge for seed harvest production. Native to the Bayou Region and sustainable in our coastal habitats, these plants are crucial to maintaining coastal wetlands and barrier islands.
“The vast wetlands in southeast Louisiana are ideal for coastal restoration research,” said John Harrington, ConocoPhillips Coastal Wetlands director. “We are proud to support key partners like Nicholls State University to drive habitat-enhancement research and promote coastal resiliency and sustainability.”
Nicholls first purchased the land that would become the Nicholls Farm in 1969 from Harvey Peltier. Located down La. 1 from the main campus, the Farm is an integral part of the university’s plans to become the center for coastal restoration research in Louisiana. In recent years, Nicholls Biology has produced over 30,000 black mangroves at the Nicholls Farm, which were planted along coastal areas. A Nicholls Farm master plan lays out plans for additional land, classroom space and areas to test coastal restoration projects.
ConocoPhillips is one of the world’s leading exploration and production companies based on both production and reserves, with a globally diversified asset portfolio. The company is also the largest private wetlands owner in Louisiana through its subsidiary, The Louisiana Land and Exploration Company LLC (LL&E). They have an office in Houma that supports the stewardship of its coastal wetlands and are longtime supporters of Nicholls State University.