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Volkert, Inc.

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2012 Engineering Excellence Award

Post Katrina Finfish &
Shellfish Recovery Project

Little Bay Peninsula | Bayou la Batre, AL

When Hurricane Katrina devastated the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in 2005, Dauphin Island, the coastal barrier island offshore of the western Alabama Gulf Coast, was breached and allowed wave action and storm surge to extend as far as the Bayou La Batre area just west of the ship channel entrance. The impact of this surge further eroded and breached a small peninsula that protected seagrass, oyster reefs and extensive salt marsh habitat. Review of historic aerial photography of this area also revealed severe erosion and land loss of 30 acres over a period of 50 years.  The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – State Lands Division, in cooperation with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – Marine Resources Division, conduced a post-hurricane Katrina Finfish and Shellfish Nursery Habitat Restoration Program with goals that included a large scale salt marsh restoration of protective land areas and creation of finfish and shellfish nursery habitats along publicly-owned shorelines in and around Mississippi Sound and lower Mobile Bay. The selected project site was subject to severe erosion from hurricanes, tropical storms, and other weather events. The intent of the program initiative was to develop data to evaluate the efficacy of various restoration techniques and was scheduled for completion in the Fall of 2011. Construction plans and specifications allowed for two segmented breakwater alternatives.  The coastal engineering team’s use of computer modeling and wave tank experimentation helped to validate current engineering methods for similar coastal engineering projects and will provide a process for future coastal restoration efforts. The use of Wave Attenuation Units was selected as the primary solution to produce a safe haven for small finfish and provides a medium for oyster growth. Benefits of the project collaboration include: Protecting the Forever Wild Land located adjacent to the project site; Created jobs for local fishermen, engineering and scientific research opportunities; and, provides for a public educational site.  The Post Katrina Finfish and Shellfish Recovery Project has earned the Grand Award for Engineering Excellence by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Alabama, a National Recognition Award for Engineering Excellence by the ACEC, the 2011 Project of the Year Award by the Mobile Area Council of Engineers, and American Conservation Engineers Award of Excellence and a U.S. Environmental Projection Agency Gulf Guardian Award.