The Mississippi River
South Louisiana, including the famous City of New Orleans, is protected by an engineering marvel composed of navigation corridors, concrete levees, dams, canals and bayous. Without this system of protecting levees, the city of New Orleans would not be able to exist and the Mississippi River would have taken over long ago.
The Mississippi River is the second largest river in North America and is about 2,350 miles long. The river starts in Minnesota and travels all the way down to Louisiana to the Gulf. In 1718, French settlers founded New Orleans, but were constantly having problems from the flooding of the Mississippi River. By 1812, the settlers started to build levees and over the next two centuries the cities continued to grow draining surrounding wetlands to further expand their communities. In 1928, Congress authorized a major levee improvement project and the US Army Corps of Engineers began shoring up the flood control system. Today, Louisiana is protected by a very intricate system of levees that help to protect the residents, but these changes have also impacted the surrounding marsh lands.
The Louisiana marshes have deteriorated over the centuries for a variety of reasons ranging from erosion and salt water intrusion to storms and hurricanes. Hurricanes can cause extensive erosion at the coastal edge and can easily destroy miles of marsh lands. The wetlands and the barrier islands are extremely important, and they are the first line of defense for protecting cities like New Orleans. Today, there are many projects taking place to continue to restore wetlands. The Wilco Marsh Buggies equipment is used for many marsh land restoration projects. The Bay Denesse Restoration Project is one project where Wilco’s equipment is helping divert sediment-rich Mississippi River water into Denesse and Quarantine Bay in an effort to restore and rebuild marsh habitats.