Although not very high, the ridges are perhaps the most important part of the estuarine system for humans because they act storm barriers, providing protection from flooding and reducing saltwater intrusion into the fresher marshes.
Some ridges that run north to south in Barataria-Terrebonne mark the locations of old river channels and distributaries and are the primary location where residents have built their homes. Each of these channels and associated ridges began as a short and efficient pathway for water to reach the Gulf.
Small maritime forests and associated ridges are found on barrier islands such as Grand Isle and headlands like Cheniere Caminada. These habitats represent one of many unique habitats in Barataria-Terrebonne. Chenieres on barrier islands are of particular importance to migratory songbirds just before or after their gulf crossing during the spring and fall migrations including Swainson’s thrushes, yellow-throated vireos, scarlet tanagers, painted buntings, Baltimore orioles, many species of warblers, as well as many others. These upland plant communities produce seeds, fruit, and host insects important to songbirds that spend part of their migratory journey in these habitats. BTNEP has worked for years to help advance restoration of these unique habitats. These low ridges in the marsh also provide important habitat for mammals and reptiles—such as deer, rabbits, squirrels and alligators.