Missouri Loop Mitigation Bank, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, USACE Vicksburg District

The Missouri Loop Mitigation Bank (under cultivation since the 1940s), will be an important addition and buffer to restored bottomland hardwood and upland forested habitat on the FWS Joe Oliveras Tract, a NWR site adjacent to the bank on the east and north. The bank site and NWR site are bifurcated by an un-named channelized bayou. The bank’s 303 acres lie within documented black bear foraging and denning habitat, with several documented sightings on bottomland hardwood forestlands maintained by the Morehouse School Board directly south and adjacent to the bank site.

The bank also lies within the Mississippi flyway, and currently provides important resting and foraging habitat for migrating waterfowl. Restoration of its historic bottomland hardwood character will provide high quality resting, denning, nesting and foraging habitat for state and federally threatened and endangered species. Once fully restored, the bank site will support a diversity of bottomland hardwood community associations such as elm-ash-sugarberry, overcup oak-bitter pecan, mixed red and white oaks, sweetgum-red oaks, and small pockets of open-canopied cypress-tupelo in the lowest portions of the site providing protected refugia for migrating waterfowl.

E Sciences is providing complete project permitting, implementation and management services. These services include feasibility analysis, USACE and Inter-Agency Review Team permitting, requiring coordination with the EPA, FWS, and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Complete permitting services also included obtaining a preliminary wetland determination from the USACE, wetland functional assessment analysis, and restoration plan design. Post-permitting services consist of construction management, planting contractor coordination and oversight, as-built documentation and reporting, monitoring and assisting the client with long-term management of the bank. Due to past agricultural activities, the site hydrology was severely altered from levee construction and ditching, cutting off hydrology from the unnamed bayou. A hydrologic restoration plan to the site was developed by conducting local watershed and hydraulic analysis. The hydrologic restoration design involved breaching of the boundary leeves with fixed elevation weir structures in strategic locations allowing in-flow and outflow of floodwaters from the unnamed bayou, removal of internal levees to restore overland flow, and rendering internal ditching ineffective through backfilling. The bank site was planted with a diversity of bottomland hardwood tree and subcanopy species in 2010. To date, the bank has secured the construction credit release by meeting performance measures demonstrating successful implementation of the restoration plan.