Bayou Auguste Neighborhood Wetland Park transformed a degraded tidal stream into a living landscape, creating a public asset for a historically underserved community. The project implements part of a community plan for East Biloxi, a low-income, racially-mixed community devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The design team secured multiple grants, leading a partnership including the City of Biloxi, Biloxi Housing Authority, Biloxi Public School District, and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, to leverage grant funds and volunteer labor.

The bayou’s wetland habitat had been seriously impacted over time. Its natural, meandering course was straightened, forming a steeply cut channel that degraded the bayou’s function and aesthetic appeal. To reveal the site’s social and ecological potential, the project reshaped the stream banks to create tidal marsh habitat and open views into the constructed wetland. To provide streambank stability and stormwater filtration, a gabion wall was constructed reusing concrete from the removed retaining wall and filled with locally-sourced oyster shells. These same materials were used in making an outfall structure which reduces stormwater velocity and prevents erosion at the mouth of the culvert. Volunteers contributed over 2800 hours of service and participated in the construction of these elements, installed erosion control materials, removed debris and installed 5000 native plants.

GCCDS engaged the local community and students through educational programs focusing on ways to improve the bayou’s important functions including: 1) restoring and improving nursery habitat for fish and shrimp, essential to the local economy; 2) reducing pollution and debris entering the ocean through the integrated bayou and stormwater system; and 3) creating marshland to contain floodwater from extreme storm events.  Bayou Auguste has an important social role allowing the community to enjoy wildlife, encouraging environmental stewardship and appreciating the unique coastal environment that makes Biloxi home.