SLU Wetlands Restoration Laboratory

Louisiana’s wetlands are disappearing at a rate unequaled in history.In the time it
takes you to read this introduction, a chunk of marsh about the size of your car (~100
square feet) will disappear from our coastline – or, in other terms, about 3 acres
of wetlands per hour are lost.

Our goal is to design and implement wetlands restoration experiments, both in SITU
and greenhouse, and execute the appropriate restoration procedures once sufficient
data have been obtained.



Saving the Wetlands

Here in the marshes which comprise the western shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain, an
environmental disaster awaits. These wetlands, although reasonably healthy, are rapidly
disappearing from our planet largely due to shoreline erosion and subsidence. 

These marshes were once vibrant growing bald cypress diverse, species-rich wetland
forests. The lumber from bald cypress trees is extremely desirable and has been widely
used since this region was first inhabited.

With the introduction of steam (and later diesel) engines the process became amazingly
more efficient. The process of pullboat logging, as it came to be known, was so efficient
that entire swamp forests were virtually denuded of trees within the lifespan of an
average person.

Logging canals gouged into the swamp over one hundred years ago still scar the landscape.
These logging canals have altered the hydrology of the Manchac/Maureas region to such
an extent that water no longer flows across in a sheet-like pattern. Instead, water
flows into these ditches and directly out into larger bodies of water like Pass Manchac
and Lake Pontchartrain carrying organic detritus along with the water. This loss of
dead plant material is believed to be one of the primary contributors of wetland subsidence
in the region.

After logging operations ceased, very little natural regeneration occurred. What regrowth
did occur, did so on the slightly higher elevations of the spoil bank levees along
the larger logging canals. 

Our research has isolated numerous factors directly responsible for this lack of natural

View Our Research


Experiments in Wetlands Restoration

Some of our current and ongoing projects and research opportunities. 


Manchac/Maurepas Bald Cypress Restoration Project

This program was started in 1989 as a series of graduate student thesis projects designed
to ferret out some of the reasons for the apparent lack of natural regeneration of
bald cypress trees in the Manchac/Maurepas area of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. Our
progress was slow in the early years, but as the initial data were analyzed our survival
rates for the young saplings grew. We have now reached a respectable rate of about
80% survival for saplings after year one. Our knowledge about this fascinating ecosystem
continues to grow at a steady rate as we use previously-planted trees as experimental
units in new studies. Currently we have approximately 6,000 saplings ranging in age
from year one to year seven with which to conduct research.


Field Locations

Most of our field research is conducted on the Manchac Wildlife Management Area, which
is approximately 8000 acres of fresh marsh, “owned” by the Louisiana Department of
Wildlife and Fisheries and located adjacent to Turtle Cove.




The Society of Wetland Scientists

Kew Gardens

Amazing Environmental Organization Web Directory