THIBODAUX, La. – The Nicholls Farm has dedicated a newly created wetland for coastal restoration research and other projects, thanks to the support of Ducks Unlimited and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Water is pumped from Bayou Folse into the wetland so that the plants can filter out nutrients, and then the nutrient-free water is returned to Bayou Folse. This project will reduce the amount of nutrients that reach the Gulf of Mexico. A second wetland research facility is set to be located directly across from Bayou Folse at the Nicholls Farm.
“DU is happy to be a part of this project. We appreciate NRCS allowing us to be involved, and we look forward to doing more work with Nicholls State University in the future,” said Ducks Unlimited Director of Conservation Programs – South Louisiana Mr. Cassidy LeJeune.
Bayou Folse, an impaired waterway, contains high levels of nutrients caused by fertilizer runoff and home septic systems. The wetland serves as a filter for nutrient removal, returning the clean water back into the bayou.
The 277-acre farm is three miles south of Nicholls’ campus and serves as an environmental research and education center for Nicholls and other partners. Labs, classrooms, greenhouses, shade houses, storage barns and a 7.5-acre pond for wetland plant production are all housed at the farm.
Nicholls biology students and faculty have expanded coastal restoration efforts through the farm by growing and harvesting more than 35,000 plants at the farm and replanting them along the coast and barrier islands. Among the plants grown are black mangroves, beach dune grasses, and coastal oak trees.
“In addition to removing nutrients from Bayou Folse, this weltand will provide multiple opportunities for student learning activities and community engagement,” said Professor and Head of Biological Sciences Quenton Fontenot.
Since 1935, the Barataria-Terrebonne basins have lost about 600,000 acres of land. Louisiana loses a football field of coastal islands and wetlands every 100 minutes and has experienced the highest rate of wetlands loss in the country, accounting for 80% of the nation’s coastal wetland loss, with more than 2,000 square miles turned to open water, an area roughly the size of Delaware.
To preserve and protect the coast from future storms, Nicholls is set to open its Coastal Center, with a groundbreaking slated for fall 2023. The $21 million project will be located on the Nicholls campus at the corner of Colonel Drive and Ardoyne Drive, across from Calecas Hall.
The Coastal Center will work directly with the Nicholls Farm, serving as a testbed for real-world application of the center’s coastal research. The Farm is an integral part of the University’s plans to become the center for coastal restoration research in Louisiana.
The center’s collaborative space will allow scientists from all over the state and beyond, including those from Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Water Institute of the Gulf and Nicholls biological sciences and geomatics departments, to collaborate and advance research to repair and rebuild the state’s receding coastline.