OUR VIEW: Caminada windfall great for Lafourche

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Battered by the Gulf for decades to a pathetic state, Caminada is now on its way to resembling a gold-plated coastline.

All told, more than $200 million is being invested in the Lafourche Parish beachfront. The once-scrawny stretch of sand, dunes and maritime forest will be elevated to 10 feet above sea level for nearly 14 miles. About 800 acres of sand and dune are being created during the project’s two phases.

Nestled behind it are Port Fourchon, La. Highway 1 and acre upon acre of vulnerable Barataria Basin marsh.

Louisiana had infused $70 million into the Caminada Headland restoration project with state and federal dollars. That’s less than half the amount granted last week ($144.6 million) by the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, which is administering criminal fines stemming from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.

That Caminada was the first project to receive construction money from the NFWF speaks clearly to its place in the coastal queue.

Its importance to protecting not only the economic hub Port Fourchon, but the freshwater Barataria Basin is universally accepted. Import is not the only piece to the puzzle, however, as it took years of preparation and work by elected and nonelected officials to get the project in a place where it could accept construction money.

It would be futile to attempt to compile a comprehensive list in this space, but officials on the local, state and national levels deserve credit for all of their preliminary work.

It remains to be seen how much of a practical, lasting difference Caminada will make amid the annual barrage of tropical weather. But any improvement in shielding the exposed infrastructure of south Lafourche is welcome.

Considering the rate of erosion at the site, how long will the investment last? Foliage and beach nets will be installed to stem the pace of land attrition, which averaged between 35 and 45 feet per year, according to state officials.

While we’re on the topic: Whether the public is granted access to the beach – a heated topic in Lafourche since the oil spill – in the future is of trivial concern at this point.

Public money is being spent to improve privately owned land, yes, but the private land is a cornerstone of the effort to protect Lafourche’s most valuable asset, as well as the Barataria Basin and the overall plan to bolster the southeast Louisiana’s perimeter lands.

Last week’s announcement is a testament to hard work and a recognition of south Lafourche Parish’s importance to the state’s economy and ecology. To all involved: Thank you.