Chevron, LDWF and local donors join CCA to replace lost oil and gas platform habitat in a former speckled trout hotspot
CYPREMORT POINT (June 27, 2019) – On Thursday, Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana’s REEF Louisiana Program dedicated the Ted Beallieu, Sr. Reef Complex, a new set of new artificial reefs in South Marsh Island Block 233. The new reefs, named in honor of Lafayette area conservation legend Ted Beaullieu, Sr., are being built on a former speckled trout fishing hotspot where oil and gas platforms have been removed.
Along with conservation partners Chevron, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, DLS Energy and Road Rock Recycling, CCA’s REEF Louisiana program is building the two reef sites using a variety of recycled concrete “materials of opportunity.” Some of the materials, including recycled platform legs, catch basins and concrete construction structures, were lowered into the water Thursday where they will become habitat for speckled trout, redfish and other important marine species.
The reefs are replacing habitat that was a favorite of Louisiana anglers before the oil and gas platforms were removed. Each of the new reefs will cover about 2 acres, and the site will total roughly 5 to 6 acres. Each reef is designed to optimize the water and bottom conditions with the hopes of creating the best possible fish habitat. The reefs are in roughly 20 feet of water, and the materials will be placed on the bottom to create up to 6 feet of elevation from the seafloor.
CCA Louisiana President John Walther was on hand at the event, and explained the origins of the project to those in attendance.
“While CCA has built dozens of reefs across Louisiana, this is only the second one we’ve built specifically to replace lost oil and gas platform habitat,” said Walther. “The habitat that is lost when the platforms are removed is absolutely critical to our fisheries in this part of the Gulf, so the opportunity to replace it with larger materials like these is one we could not pass up.”
Walther explained that the road to get to this point was long and sometimes bumpy, but due to the efforts of partners and volunteers, one that will be worth the wait.
“This is the culmination of months of planning, site selection, working with user groups, finding material, and identifying partners,” said Walther. “Getting approval to move to deeper waters and use bigger materials took a tremendous effort by CCA volunteers and LDWF staff. Combine that with the willingness of Chevron, DLS Energy and Road Rock Recycling to donate to the project, it brings us to where we are today, building this amazing new habitat.”
Volunteers noted that one unique aspect of the project is the approval to use larger materials, such as the recycled rig legs and catch basins.
“The rig legs were just sitting in a yard and the catch basins were just removed from a highway project in Lafayette,” said Acadiana CCA member Stuart Billeaud. “They were destined for a landfill somewhere, and now they will become an artificial reef. You can just look at the material and see what a great reef it will make.”
And Billeaud says this is just the beginning.
“With the ability to use these materials, CCA’s REEF Louisiana program hopes to do dozens, or even hundreds of these projects in the coming decades,” said Billeaud. “The platforms are coming out faster and faster these days, so having materials ready to replace them when they do will be critical to our fisheries.”
CCA Louisiana named the project after Mr. Beaullieu, Sr. in honor of his lifetime of service to Louisiana’s coast. Beaullieu (92) and several members of his family were on hand Thursday for the dedication. Beaullieu is a member of the CCA Louisiana Hall of Fame, created the CCA Louisiana Ted Beaullieu, Sr. Scholarship (given annually to a University of Louisiana at Lafayette student) and has been recognized for his conservation leadership by numerous national organizations. He was clearly moved by the dedication, and expressed his appreciation to the project partners.
“Some of my fondest memories are days on these waters with family and friends,” said Beaullieu. “I am extremely honored and humbled by this dedication, and thankful that so many of my family and friends are here to share this with me. Thank you to CCA and all the project partners for helping me give back to a coast that has been so good to me.”
A number of State Representatives were on hand to honor Mr. Beaullieu and take part in the dedication, including Rep. Blake Miguez, Rep. Jean-Paul Coussan and Rep. Stuart Bishop. Bishop, who passed legislation a number of years ago to protect the Artificial Reef Trust Fund from future sweeps, was passionate in his comments about Mr. Beaullieu, and the importance of our coast.
“Mr. Ted is absolutely the perfect person to honor with this reef. He is a pioneer for all of us to emulate, and is the epitome of a gentleman and a sportsman. I am honored to help dedicate this project to him,” said Bishop. “The legacy Ted is creating today through this reef is a starting point, and we are not building it for us. We are building it for our children and their children, so that Louisiana can continue as The Sportsman’s Paradise for generations to come.”
LDWF Commissioner Chad Courville was on hand, and talked about how important collaborations like this one are to the future of our aquatic ecosystems.
“This project has a special meaning to me. Being from this area of the State, and fishing this area my whole life, I know first-hand how important this project is to those who love to fish this part of the coast,” said Courville. “This is how it is supposed to work. Industry, working with nonprofits, partnering with government to create positive results for the State and her citizens. I am proud that we are here today, and would like to thank Secretary Jack Montoucet and his staff, specifically Mike McDonough and his artificial reef team, along with CCA, Chevron, DLS, Road Rock and all the volunteers who made this happen.”
Courville, who was one of the originators of the REEF Louisiana near-shore concept, said he was amazed at how the Beaullieu project went from concept to construction in such short order.
“Some groups talk about getting things done, but never really deliver. CCA and their partners have been delivering results for anglers for years, and this is another example,” he said. “I’ve been involved in plenty of projects over the years, but this is one of the most powerful and impressive I’ve seen. I’m proud to have been involved.”
Representatives from Chevron were on hand to participate in the ceremony and site visit. Steve Conner, Chevron Gulf of Mexico Operations General Manager, said that the company is proud to be part of such an important effort.
“For many years, Chevron has been committed to the Louisiana coast and to the people who call it home. Louisiana fisheries are a critical part of our culture and our economy, and the ability to rebuild lost fisheries habitat through projects like the Ted Beaullieu, Sr. Reef is important to us all,” said Conner. “We are proud to partner with CCA, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the other contributors on this effort, and would like to thank the project leaders and volunteers for making it happen.”
This is the first-ever project for CCA’s new REEF Louisiana Program, and the 25th reef project by CCA Louisiana in recent years, representing more than $10 million in habitat creation. It will be CCA’s second reef project built on the site of removed oil and gas platforms. The first was the “Pickets Reef” complex in Ship Shoal Block 26 (built in 2014), one of the most popular and productive projects ever completed by CCA.
Funding for the Beaullieu project comes from CCA Louisiana, Chevron, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust and LDWF’s Artificial Reef Trust Fund, as well individual gifts from CCA REEF Louisiana Club members. In-kind donations are provided by DLS Energy and Road Rock Recycling.
CCA’s REEF Louisiana Program is working on plans for other new reefs, including projects in Vermilion Blocks 119 and 124, Eugene Island Blocks 51 and 74, and other popular sites across Louisiana. These projects are part of the new REEF Louisiana Program, in which CCA, LDWF and our partners rebuild fisheries habitat on the footprints of removed platforms. For more information about REEF Louisiana or to become a REEF Club Member, please contact David at 225-952-9200.
Construction of the Ted Beaullieu, Sr. Reef complex should take 7-10 days. Once work is completed, CCA will publicize the GPS coordinates for both reefs.