Mobile District Celebrates Cat Island
Cat Island in Missippi has nearly been restored to its 1990’s shoreline. For more on the current work at Cat Island, see the article in the Sep/Oct 2017 issue. (Photo by John Barker)
In October, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District announced that Cat Island in Mississippi has been nearly restored to its 1990s shoreline. The shoreline restoration will reduce hurricane risks to Mississippi and boost the natural habitat for birds and turtles. The shoreline work concluded in October and sand fencing and vegetation would be installed by May 2018.
Under a Memorandum of Agreement between the State of Mississippi and the Mobile District, the Corps agreed to renourish the east beach with about two million cubic feet of sand. The renourished area is approximately 350 feet wide and between 5 to 7 feet in height, sloping toward the Gulf. The renourishment will restore the island to its 1990’s condition, at a cost of $14.3 million. The work was fully federally funded through the 2009 Department of Defense Supplemental Appropriations Act. The project will be monitored for up to 10 years post-construction to determine its success.
“In 2005, one of the most destructive storms on record, Hurricane Katrina, exposed some vulnerabilities along the Mississippi coast,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Yoder, Mobile District deputy commander. “We are in the final stages of restoring Cat Island, a barrier island just off the Mississippi coast that is critical to reducing wave energy that impacts nearby Gulfport and Biloxi. Once the re-restoration of Cat Island is complete, we will continue to monitor the efficacy of our efforts to ensure that we have met our purpose.”
In addition to restoring Cat Island’s shoreline, the Corps built a turbidity barrier, approximately 3,500 linear feet long that was completed in June
“The purpose of this barrier is to protect sub-aquatic vegetation beds that are present around the southern end of the island,” said Joseph Black, project engineer.
Dune construction is the final stage of the project, where approximately 85,000 plants and 4,750 linear feet of fencing will be placed on two dunes. Dune construction is scheduled to begin in late November.
“The entire project will be monitored for up to 10 years to determine the success in terms of turtle and shorebird nesting habitat and risk-reduction to the mainland,” said Rees. “Modifications to the project will be made if necessary, based on the monitoring.”
The Mobile District started planning for the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program Barrier Island Comprehensive Restoration in early 2006. Design and construction funding was received in 2009. Engineering, design and environmental compliance were finalized in June 2016. In December 2016, Mobile District purchased 492 acres on the eastern side of Cat Island in the name of the state of Mississippi.
Restoration of another nearby barrier island, Ship Island, is scheduled to begin with the initial closure of Camille Cut in November and is expected to last approximately 2.5 years. Under that project, the district will place 19.5 million cubic yards of sand to fill Camille Cut, the 3.5-mile breech between West and East Ship Islands, and replenish East Ship Island’s southern shoreline.
Lt. Col. Andrew Yoder, Mobile District deputy commander,
addresses those in attendance at the Cat Island
press conference on September 29. In the background,
from left, are: Jamie Miller, executive director,
Department of Marine Resources; Rep. Greg Haney
(R-Gulfport); Delbert Hosemann, Mississippi secretary
of state; Susan Rees, project manager, Mobile
District’s Coastal Resiliency Program; and Sen. Mike
Seymour (R-Vancleave). (Photo by John Barker)