Material from Katrina damaged Buras High School used to create new fish habitat

Posted on December 19, 2012

CCA Louisiana, Shell Oil Company, The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, The Barrier Island Restoration and Development Society (BIRDS) and Bertucci Contractors have begun construction on a new artificial reef in Breton Sound, to be called the Buras High School Reef. A visit to the construction site was held earlier today.

The reef is being built using recycled material taken from historic Buras High School, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and never re-opened. Now the school that was once filled with students will provide a home for schools of fish.

“Plaquemines Parish is so appreciative to CCA, Shell Oil, Wildlife and Fisheries, and BIRDS for working together on this great project,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. “The new Buras High School Reef will be a great new place to fish and a boost for Plaquemines businesses that depend on recreational fishing.”

Darren Angelo, owner of Delta Marina and a founding member of the CCA Plaquemines Chapter, agreed with Nungesser. “The marinas in South Plaquemines will certainly benefit from this new reef,” he said. “We expect that anglers will come to the area from all over to check out this new hot spot.”

The reef is located in an area well known to anglers, just north and east of California Point. Many of the area’s historically popular fishing holes have disappeared over recent years due to hurricanes and coastal erosion. According to NOAA’s Tim Osborn, this new reef should withstand the elements for many years to come.

“The size and make-up of this material should make the reef very resistant to erosion and weather,” said Osborn. “I would expect anglers to enjoy this reef for generations.”

The project was conceived by CCA Louisiana’s new Plaquemines Chapter, which was founded in 2010. Chapter leaders and volunteers have been integral throughout the planning process.

The Buras High School Reef is the 11th reef constructed by CCA over recent years and the fourth project to use recycled material. The Southshore Reef and the Kim and Dudley Vandenborre Reef were completed in Lake Pontchartrain in 2010 and 2011 respectively, using material from the Katrina damaged I-10 Twin Span Bridge. In July of 2012, CCA completed construction of the Brad Vincent Artificial Reef in Calcasieu Lake using recycled road rubble. CCA has immediate plans for additional projects in Vermilion Bay, Lake Pontchartrain and Terrebonne Bay.

Funding for the Buras High School Reef was provided by Shell Oil Company, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust, LDWF’s Artificial Reef Trust Fund, and BIRDS. Continuing support of CCA’s Artificial Reef Program is also provided by the Paul Candies Family.

“Having graduated from Buras High School myself, this project takes on special meaning for me,” says Shell’s Bryan Bergeron. “It was difficult to take when the school was damaged so badly by Katrina. Building this new reef out of the old high school somehow gives the place new life.”

“As always, CCA is proud to work with our wonderful partners in conservation to make this project possible,” said CCA’s John Walther. “The collaboration between private industry, local and state government and CCA has once again resulted in a victory for coastal habitat.”

After completion, mooring buoys placed around the perimeter of the site will mark the reef. Anglers will have the option to tie off to the specially designed buoys if they choose.

“If recent projects are any indication, we would expect this reef to begin supporting marine life shortly after deployment,” said CCA Louisiana CEO David Cresson. “It would not be surprising to hear reports of specks and reds being caught on the reef during Summer 2013.”