Delta’s First Climate Mitigation Project
The Avahoula Climate Mitigation Project (ACMP) is a 7,200-acre afforestation/reforestation (A/R) carbon mitigation project located in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley of east-central Louisiana. The site is part of the Saline-Larto Complex, a large natural backwater system composed of Larto Lake, Saline Lake, Shad Lake, and numerous connecting lakes and bayous. The Saline-Larto Complex is a diverse and essential ecosystem that has experienced fragmentation over the last 70 years due to an increase in agriculture demands.
The ACMP will provide enormous environmental benefit to the threatened ecosystem of the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the nation’s largest floodplain. The site, which currently functions as agricultural crop production, is the last remaining gap amid 81,500 acres of preserved forests. The reforestation will consist of planting 3.5 million trees on approximately 6,500 acres – restoring a crucial, forested corridor, while increasing wildlife habitat, improving downstream water quality, and sequestering atmospheric carbon. Once restored to its native bottomland hardwood and cypress swamp habitat, the ACMP will be the largest carbon development and A/R project in Louisiana and, perhaps, the entire southeastern United States.
Delta will apply the same level of dedication to conservation and high-quality ecological restoration to our Climate Mitigation Program as we have for the past 13+ years. As a result, the ACMP will be protected through a perpetual conservation easement and the long-term stewardship of Delta Land Services. We are excited to announce this flagship project, as well as our expansion into the forest carbon market, meeting the growing demand for verified carbon credits generated from nature-based solutions.
The Avahoula Climate Mitigation Project was historically a thriving forested system that provided crucial habitat to the nation’s largest floodplain, the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Prior to clearing in the late 1950s, the site existed as a mosaic of bottomland hardwood and cypress swamp habitat within the ridge and swale complex formed from the adjacent Red and Black Rivers. The dense forested ecosystem of the ACMP was cleared, converted to farmland, and intensively managed for row crops. However, relative to the surrounding farmlands, areas of the ACMP are considered marginal or low producing farmland.
The ACMP mostly consists of Sharkey clay overwash and Dundee-Alligator complex soil types. The Sharkey clay areas are low-lying and historically categorized as wet backswamp lands. Conversely, the Dundee-Alligator areas underlay the higher areas located on the eastern side of the ACMP and once consisted of sweetgum, cottonwood, Cherrybark oak, and water oak. Both soil types were historically dominated by forested systems and are conducive to highly successful tree growth.
The majority of the ACMP is currently protected from river flooding by large exterior levees. There is one small area to the northeast corner of the site that is unprotected and experiences seasonal back flooding from the Red and Black Rivers. Without the current levee system, the ACMP would experience significantly more inundation in backwater flood events. The low-lying areas have a tendency to become inundated in severe rain events, but the current pump system dewaters the ACMP in an expedited fashion.
Connectivity in a Key Corridor
Situated between the 64,000-acre Dewey Wills Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and the 17,500-acre Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), the ACMP is an ideal candidate for reforestation and sustainable conservation. Once restored, it will provide habitat connection from the Catahoula NWR down to the Three Rivers WMA. The Larto-Saline complex is a diverse and essential ecosystem of central Louisiana that has experienced fragmentation over the last 70 years due to an increase in agriculture demands. The reforestation of the ACMP would restore this crucial, forested corridor, increasing wildlife habitat, improving downstream water quality, and sequestering atmospheric carbon on a daily basis.
Need for Restoration
Having been intensively managed for agricultural production for the last 60+ years, the ACMP is in need of an early successional jump start. The prolonged periods of pumping, annual herbicide treatments, and continual agricultural maintenance has prohibited the site from progressing into an early successional forested stand. Delta plans to kick start the restoration process by ceasing all agricultural activities, reconnecting natural surface drainage patterns, and planting native tree species. The ACMP will be protected by conservation easement and managed specifically for carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat to ensure restoration success. Without Delta’s restoration efforts, the site would take years to develop into a forested system on its own. The planting of native stems appropriately by elevation gradients will promote stand diversity and provide ample opportunity for natural regeneration.
The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Meets Climate Tech
It brings us great joy to further advance our partnership with Pachama (www.pachama.com) and to officially launch our Avahoula Climate Mitigation project. Together, Delta and Pachama are working to initiate a Louisiana revival by restoring 6,500 acres of floodplain, providing vast climate, biodiversity, and community benefits to the gulf coast region. Joining forces with one of the top leaders in climate mitigation to generate high-integrity carbon credits in the Gulf Coast region has been exhilarating! Check out our launch video for the project.