Mother Nature Forces Closing of Famed Louisiana Marina

Port Eads Marina in Louisiana, the final stop for many anglers heading into or coming from the Gulf of Mexico, has closed due to siltation in South Pass.

Mother Nature Forces Closing of Famed Louisiana Marina

Anglers coming from or going into the Gulf of Mexico for years have cruised up South Pass and docked at Port Eads Marina, a welcome site to relax, eat, drink and tell tales at the southernmost point of Louisiana.

The Pelican State's marshes and passes — channels large and small carved by the Mississippi River — are notorious for filling in due to heavy sediment loads deposited by the river. What may be open and navigable one or two years could be shallow and problematic the next due to hurricanes, flooding or other issues. It's just part of the diverse ecosystem of the marsh.

Mother Nature is fickle and dredging the passes often is a solution, but her latest nasty trick is leaving anglers with nothing but memories. Port Eads Marina is closed due to siltation in the South Pass channel that makes it unnavigable for large vessels. The marina is reachable only by boat and dredging is too costly.

Rene Cross is owner of Cypress Cove Marina and a board member with the Port Eads Fishing Refuge. The non-profit foundation was formed after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2006 to care for the marina. Cross told Louisiana Sportsman that despite the best efforts and planning, the marina had to be shuttered.

“Port Eads Marina is an institution to us. It’s the closest place to the best fishing in the world, and it has everything anglers could want. Gas, a restaurant, a store, sleeping quarters — all in the most convenient location to the Gulf,” he told the magazine. “And it didn’t close down because of politics, poor management, or disinterest. It just became unsustainable to operate because the silt has filled in so badly that the bigger fishing boats simply cannot get to it safely. Mother Nature is the reason it’s been closed."

After Katrina leveled the previous marina, the federal government put in $12 million to rebuild it due to the economic impact and importance to the state. Securing flood insurance was impossible due to the cost, so the marina was put into the non-profit foundation. It hired High Adventure Company to manage it on a five-year contract, which has expired. The company could not continue management due to the costs and impending problems due to the silt load.

Now, navigation of large offshore boats is impossible. Cross said dredging South Pass would cost $40 million to $50 million. Nearby Southwest Pass still is open, though, and Cross said the federal government is putting its efforts there for dredging.

“The federal government is committed to dredging Southwest Pass, which is where all the commerce flows," he said. "That pass has to stay open and must be a priority over all others, because there’s just too much money and too much commercial shipping taking place there. And if Southwest Pass silts in, it will all come to a halt.

"They dredge daily there, with numerous dredging machines, and it’s all they can do to maintain just enough depth to make it navigable by ships that draw up to 45 feet. The only way they could help South Pass is if Southwest Pass didn’t need dredging any longer, and that’s simply not going to happen. It’s unfortunate, but Southwest Pass benefits the most people, so that is where the federal government has to concentrate their dredging."

Port Eads Marina may reopen someday and see anglers eager to head out into the Gulf or tired but happy crews with full boxes coming in from a day or more on the water. But for now, only memories remain of the last stop in Louisiana on the Big Muddy.


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