Public Lab Research note

Urban Restoration Mapping Trip - Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle

by geraldmc |

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geraldmc was awarded the Basic Barnstar by stevie for their work in this research note.

What I want to do

Share stuff from the Urban Waters Mapping Blitz this past weekend; talk a bit about Bayou Bienvenue.

Our attempt and results (Gerald, Molly, Claire, and Leslie behind the camera)


Flying kites was out due to almost no wind, the pole was a wash. At Site #1 there were huge power lines to the southwest so the balloon seemed a bad idea. At Site #2 (the wastewater treatment plant) we had luck and flew the balloon several times with different camera configurations.

The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle refers to the triangular-shaped body of open water that is immediately adjacent to the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans (see main photo and historic photos below, for reference). Our first site was exactly where "You Are Here" is on the photo below. The 2nd site was about where the 'h' in 'here' is, on the right image (labeled 1976).


Up until the 1960s, this area of the city was a healthy cypress swamp, part of the central wetlands system that ran from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lake Borgne. Since the 60's levee and canal construction, along with natural subsidence of the surrounding area, have acted together to transform this freshwater swamp into a saltwater marsh. After Hurricane Katrina, Congress instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to close the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (to slow the advance of salt water). The next step is to begin dredging sediment from the river, and start the restoration process.


It's been argued that the Bienvenue Triangle is a restoration priority, due to its close proximity to New Orleans and for it's ability to educate and make people aware of what's happening up and down coastal Louisiana.

Questions and next steps

The team's results are still being processed. Leslie, Molly, Claire and I gave the Infragram camera a workout!

How to extend this site's work off road (into a boat) so we can get a little deeper into the surrounding area, especially east of the wastewater treatment facility. The NDVI results would be more interesting, I think, away from open water. In the meantime here's some foolish NDVI, not meant for science but only cause I think it looks cool. It's shot facing west from Site #1 towards New Orleans. Note the steel barricades "protecting" the Lower 9th from water that could advance from the east, from the Gulf, in the event of a storm.


Why I'm interested

I live in Louisiana.

gulf-coast balloon-mapping louisiana bayou-bienvenue urban-ecology urbanwaters epaurbanwater



Can't wait to see the flight photos. That's a nice NDVI image. Were you holding the dual-camera rig on it's side and letting the external timer shoot?

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Chris, yes I was holding the Titan rig while it triggered, there was no room for flying there (you can see the power lines in the upper left corner of the picture). Same thing for the panoramic at the top. We flew the Titan II from a balloon at site #2 but it was a bit heavy and suddenly lost altitude. It took a bath in the water but survived after I let it dry off in the sun. A testament to the durability of the Titan II!

At site #2 we flew the Infragram camera at near 1000 feet for some time, there should be quite a lot of data from it. I wasn't able to stay long enough later that afternoon to see final results but look forward as well.

Yikes, two Powershots got wet? And survived? Did you bake them in a warm oven when you got home? Powershots don't like water. I have opened an ebay Powershot to find dried cola inside. Couldn't tell whether it was Coke or Pepsi. Camera worked fine though.

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It was so hot here on Saturday, I didn't need an oven. I just turned everything off and let it sit in the sun for while. All seems well, fingers crossed.

yeah, we did the shoreline in a canoe before, didn't have that lined up for today, although it's pretty easy to call James Stram, he lives right there, and has a canoe

Can;t wait to see photos from the WasteWater plant!

lookit what Dan Beavers did:

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