Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle calls Elmer's Island beach, just to the west of Grand Isle, the greatest fishing spot in the world.

"Look," he said, pointing westward. "You go 1,500 feet over there and you will catch the biggest yellow-mouth trout you ever saw."

Fishermen everywhere can now be sure that such an opportunity isn't about to wash into the ocean, at least not for a while.

On Tuesday, Camardelle stood on the white sand at Elmer's beach with a host of other state and local officials for the official ribbon-cutting on what the state's coastal authority calls its "largest restoration project to date."

The result is a pristine 13 miles of white sand beach stretching from Bayou Lafourche to just west of Grand Isle.

The beach will serve as a public recreation area as well as a refuge for more than 170 species of birds that call the island and surrounding marshes home.

To rebuild the island and the dunes behind them, the state dredged and shipped nine million cubic yards of sand from Ship Shoal, a former barrier island now some 30 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. That sand was used to rebuild some 1,059 acres of land.

The project cost about $216 million, with funding from both state and federal sources. 

"This is a cause worth celebrating," said Gov. John Bel Edwards. The project, he said, achieves two goals: It helps restore coast that has been lost and it will help protect inland areas from storm surge.

The project also will help provide a knowledge base for future barrier island restoration projects.

One of the key beneficiaries of the Elmer's Island restoration will be Port Fourchon, which lies directly north of the new beach's western tip.

The port is on "the front lines of coastal land loss," Port Director Chet Chiasson said in a statement. Knowing that the state has committed to helping rebuild the coast around the port will help attract new businesses, he said.

Not everybody is happy about how the restoration has been handled, however.

Joy Aldridge joined a handful of other protesters, some holding signs, in the parking area after the ceremony. Aldridge, who lives in Chenier, said she was upset that vehicles are not going to be allowed on the beach.

"Look," she said, gesturing toward the beach several hundred yards away. "Are you going to walk from here all the way to the water with your fishing gear? And what if you catch something?"

Aldridge said she used to collect trash on the beach, put it in bags and then bring her truck and collect the bags. But now, she can't do that anymore. 

Aldridge and her friends have an ally in Camardelle.

"This is a great project, but we need to get some access for vehicles to the beach," he said.

Some improvements are planned, such as boardwalks and kayak launches, but they need to include vehicle access to the beach, he said.

"What are you going to do? Walk this far carrying an igloo with your grandchild?" he asked.

Camardelle told the group he had presented their concerns to the governor and that he hoped there would be a resolution in their favor.

Others, like Grand Isle seafood company owner Dean Blanchard, are skeptical the restoration will last against the constant pounding of the Gulf.

"There's nothing stronger than water," he said. "Until you stop the water, nothing's going to work." Blanchard wanted the government to build a rock jetty out in the water as part of the project, he said, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

Tuesday, however, pessimism was in the minority.

Edwards even sounded an upbeat note about the federal budget, despite big cuts envisioned by the Trump administration. 

"Most of what's in the (proposed) budget won't pass," he said, adding that he had discussed with administration officials the importance of considering coastal restoration as an infrastructure issue.

"The sooner we can get projects on the ground, the better," he said.

Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.