CCA Louisiana, along with Chevron, Pontchartrain Materials and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) hosted volunteers and media members to view the installation of the first phase of the West End Reef in New Orleans.
Construction began early Tuesday on the reef, which is comprised of roughly 2,200 tons of recycled limestone and crushed concrete. This first phase of the reef will create fish habitat for the area as part of a plan by Orleans Parish to revitalize West End. Plans call for the boat launch to be refurbished, a large fishing pier to be constructed, and other improvements in an effort to bring families back to the area. The once vibrant gathering place was heavily damaged in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and has been relatively dormant since then.
"The reef we are building today will create a great place for families to fish from the future pier," said CCA Louisiana Vice President of Habitat John Walther. "The material will provide wonderful habitat for our favorite species like trout and redfish, and should help attract anglers to the area."
Walther also acknowledged that the project would not have been possible without partners Chevron, Pontchartrain Materials and LDWF, all of whom were on-hand for the site visit.
"Chevron is proud to work along Louisiana's coast on projects like this one, preserving our natural resources," said Leah Brown, Manager for Policy, Government and Public Affairs for Chevron. "We appreciate the efforts of our conservation partners, and are excited to see this wonderful project begin."
Funding for the project was provided through the LDWF Artificial Reef Development Fund, Chevron and CCA. Continued support of CCA's habitat program is provided by the Paul Candies Family.
"Projects like this one, in which partners from industry, government, and non-profit organizations come together to meet a need, are a real victory for our area," said Cedric Grant, Executive Director of the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. "On behalf of Mayor Landrieu and all of us in parish government, thank you to CCA, Chevron, Wildlife and Fisheries and everyone who helped make this happen."
The limestone and crushed concrete used to make the reef was originally headed for a landfill, but Pontchartrain Materials helped ensure the material was recycled and repurposed for this project.
"The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is pleased to have great partners such as CCA Louisiana, Pontchartrain Materials and Chevron in building new and accessible fish habitat using recycled materials," said LDWF Assistant Secretary for Fisheries Patrick Banks. "It is important to provide access points like this one for residents and tourists to interact with and enjoy Louisiana's diverse fisheries all year long."
Anglers and boaters stopped by to see the construction and said they were excited for what this project will accomplish both in and out of the water.
"Providing families with new ways to access and interact with our marine life is a vital part of this Sportsman's Paradise," said Rick Smith, a Municipal Yacht Harbor Management Corporation board member. "Now ten years after Katrina, this is an important step in revitalizing the lakefront."
Anglers say they've been waiting a long time to hook redfish and speckled trout at West End again. Chris Roos, the volunteer president of the CCA Delta Chapter in New Orleans, helped spearhead the project and says he will be one of the first out on the fishing pier when it is complete.
"The CCA Delta Chapter came together over five years ago to take on West End as our chapter project. Since then, CCA Delta has worked diligently with the city and state regarding the revitalization of the area for multi-use coastal activities," said Roos. "The reef allows us the ability to start working on the rebuilding of the boat ramp and a state of the art fishing pier. The pier will be completely ADA compliant and will allow access to everyone, from professionals to first time fisherman, an opportunity to catch some of Lake Ponchartrain's bounty over our newly installed reef."