Master Plan Success: Rabbit Island

06.15.2023 | In Coastal Restoration

Project Highlight: Rabbit Island Restoration  

Rabbit Island is essential to many colonial nesting bird species, including Brown Pelicans and reddish egrets. Prior to restoration, the island had lost 89 acres of landmass. This land loss had led to the deterioration of the Rabbit Island rookery and jeopardized the second largest Brown Pelican rookery in Louisiana.

The island restoration was completed in 2021 as part of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. This barrier island project used sediment dredged from Calcasieu Ship Channel to rebuild 102 acres of nesting habitat. Experts recently anticipated 370 nests on the island – but around 6,100 were observed, including 1,150 brown pelican nests.

Voice for Restoration

“Rebuilding Rabbit Island and the recent shoreline stabilization work at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge reminds us of how important it is that projects work together to create essential wildlife habitat. So many species rely on our healthy marshes and barrier islands, which is what makes Louisiana a true Sportsman’s Paradise.”

– Doug Miller. Calcasieu Parish resident, Wildlife Biologist & Director of Operations, Grosse Savanne Lodge

This project utilized dredged sediment from the Calcasieu Ship Channel to restore the island. Rabbit Island has exceeded expectations in providing nesting habitat for bird habitat. Many additional existing and planned marsh restoration projects around Calcasieu Lake will only help strengthen the resiliency of the island and its nesting bird populations.

Restoring this island helps increase resilience for all residents of coastal Louisiana, including people, birds, and the other wildlife that calls this region home. Rabbit Island restoration will help decrease erosion on Calcasieu Lake’s shoreline by reducing wave action in the lake, thereby helping to protect local communities from storm surge.

Recently the National Audubon Society hosted a tour of the restored island. As you can see from Michael Crowley’s video below, the rookery is flourishing:

Learn more about the Brown Pelican.

Louisiana Supports the Master Plan

There remains overwhelming bipartisan support for action to address Louisiana’s urgent land loss crisis through sediment diversions and other science-based restoration efforts. A new poll of coastal Louisiana voters by Global Strategy Group (GSG) shows widespread support for coastal restoration projects consistent with prior polls in recent years.


Learn more about the 2023 Coastal Issues Poll

Louisiana at Risk

According to Audubon’s Survival by Degrees Report, 15% of Louisiana’s 240 bird species are vulnerable to climate change across all seasons. Climate threats to coastal parishes include droughts, fires, sea level rise, and severe heat. A rapidly changing climate could lead to population declines and local extinctions if species are not able to adapt.

As warming increases, Brown Pelicans in Louisiana may face many climate threats including drought, spring heat waves, urbanization, heavy rain, and sea level rise.

Learn more about how climate change will affect birds in Louisiana.

Add Your Supports for the Master Plan

Louisiana is losing a football field of land every 100 minutes, and the science says it isn’t getting better. But for the 4th time in 16 years, Louisiana has a robust science-based, publicly informed comprehensive plan to address this challenge. In a recent poll, 92% of Louisianians said it was important for the state to have a science-based based plan

Please add your voice to the map below so, together, we can show our support for coastal restoration and the Coastal Master Plan.

The new 2023 Coastal Master Plan is the state’s science-based blueprint for large-scale restoration and protection of Louisiana’s critical coastal areas. Without additional action on restoration and protection projects from the state’s Coastal Master Plan, Louisiana could lose 4,000 square miles of land over the next 50 years.

Everyone who cares about our coast has a role to play to make sure our state prioritizes coastal protection and restoration now and into the future.

Please show your support for the 2023 Coastal Master Plan! 

Support the coast, share your voice