2022 Coastal & Estuarine Summit
Hosted by Restore America's Estuaries
New Orleans, LA | December 4-8, 2022
Poster Board OEE.1

Expansion of the Galveston Bay Foundation’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program

Shannon Batte, Galveston Bay Foundation

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After oysters are consumed at restaurants, the majority of the shells are sent to landfills. The removal of oyster shells from Galveston Bay, via harvesting practices and extreme weather events, has led to a shortage of hard substrate, a key component of successful oyster development. To reestablish hard substrate in the bay, the Galveston Bay Foundation’s (GBF) Oyster Shell Recycling Program partners with local restaurants to collect spent oyster shells in 5-gallon buckets or 32-gallon bins. The shells are transported weekly by staff to curing sites where the shells are properly quarantined in preparation for reuse in local oyster reef restoration projects. The shells are stockpiled and sun cured on land for a minimum of 6 months to prevent the introduction of parasites and bacteria into the bay. Then the fully cured recycled oyster shells are returned to the bay via shoreline protection projects, small and large-scale reef creation projects, as well as reef enhancement initiatives such as volunteer oyster gardening. With the assistance of Coastal Management Program funds, donations, and sponsorships, GBF was able to purchase a one-of-a-kind heavy‐duty truck equipped with a dump bed and bin lift to facilitate the expansion of shell recycling efforts to the inner loop of Houston. The program has expanded to 26 restaurants and 3 storage sites, steadily increasing the tonnage of shells recycled on an annual basis. GBF has managed this program since 2011, collecting over 1,300 tons of oyster shells as of March 2022. Of this amount, over 500 tons have been incorporated in restoration efforts in Galveston Bay, with plans for utilizing the remaining shells in the next 3 to 5 years.
Poster Board OEE.2

Targeted Outreach for Green Infrastructure in Vulnerable Areas (TOGI): A Pilot Study Empowering Historically Underserved Communities in Resiliency Actions

Katlyn Fuentes, Chesapeake Research Consortium

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The Targeted Outreach for Green Infrastructure in Vulnerable Areas (TOGI) is a pilot project being led by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Habitat Goal Implementation Team. The goal of this pilot project is to work with communities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to design green infrastructure projects that meet both community and habitat conservation goals. Areas within the City of Williamsport, Pennsylvania; Middle Peninsula, Virginia; and Cambridge, Maryland were selected as areas susceptible to climate change within the Chesapeake Bay watershed that could benefit from green or nature-based infrastructure projects. The selection of these communities also included overlaying locally relevant information about diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, as well as social science best practices. The process included listening sessions to help identify local opportunities where climate change problems can be addressed through green infrastructure options, while also helping to meet social needs. Following the listening session, a design workshop was held to develop a preliminary design concept for a community-identified project. The outcome is a design concept for the selected project and assistance in identifying implementation funding.
Poster Board OEE.3

Conservation Districts Partnering to Conserve our Nation's Coasts

Mariah MacKenzie, National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD)

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Across the United States, nearly 3,000 conservation districts—almost one in every county—work directly with landowners to conserve and promote healthy soils, water, forests, and wildlife. Conservation districts help to coordinate assistance from all available sources—public and private, local, state, and federal—to develop locally-driven solutions to natural resources concerns. The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) represents these districts and the more than 17,000 citizens who voluntarily serve on conservation district governing boards. There are over 300 conservation districts with ocean and Great Lakes coastline across the country. In this poster, NACD will showcase how conservation districts partner with others to conserve coasts, spotlighting four examples: one each from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts, and the Great Lakes. Participants will learn from the poster the varied work conservation districts are doing across the country to conserve coasts and watersheds, and gain ideas on ways they might collaborate with local conservation districts for voluntary, locally-led conservation. The poster will also include interactivity through the use of a QR code and social media hashtags. Participants will be able to scan a QR code on the poster to learn more about conservation districts. The poster will also encourage participants to interact with NACD and conservation districts with posts to social media using the hashtags #NACD and #DistrictsConserveCoasts.
Poster Board OEE.4

Nature-Based Solutions: Community Volunteers Come Together to Help Defend a Vulnerable Coastal Town

Brittany Collins, The Nature Conservancy

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The Eastern Shore of Virginia is one of the nation’s most threatened coastal regions from rising sea levels. The Town of Wachapreague, one of the last fishing communities left on the Eastern Shore, is protected from the sea by a system of barrier islands and marshes, where marshes are the last natural defense against storms and rising seas. As a result of climate change, protective saltmarshes are eroding, and flooding events are more frequent. Waves are the driving force behind these erosional processes causing the marshes to retreat. Without maintaining broad saltmarshes to diminish wave energy, the town will be more vulnerable to storms in the future. Thus, wave attenuation and marsh accretion are critical components of any coastal protection and resilience plan. To help this small community, The Nature Conservancy has had hundreds of volunteers donate thousands of hours to help construct oyster reefs adjacent to an eroding saltmarsh island directly protecting the Town of Wachapreague’s waterfront from the open water of a large coastal bay. The volunteers are crucial to this project for the manufacturing of substrates on land and the field installation of the reefs. The oyster reefs were constructed of two materials: OysterCatcher, by Sandbar Oyster CompanyTM, and Oyster Castles. These reefs are designed to attenuate wave energy that erodes the marsh edge and to facilitate sediment accretion to enhance conditions for potential marsh expansion. The University of Virginia took direct field measurements to quantify the effects of oyster reef restoration on the physical and geomorphic environments associated with the marsh island. This study demonstrates the coastal protection benefits, including wave energy mitigation and marsh sedimentation provided by combining different substrate designs.
Poster Board OEE.5

Barge-ing Ahead for the Bay: The Prudence H. and Louis F. Ryan Mobile Oyster Restoration Center for Remote Setting

Julie Luecke, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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In 2019, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) splashed its innovative, new remote setting facility, the Prudence H. and Louis F. Ryan Mobile Oyster Restoration Center, for large-scale oyster restoration and community engagement in the Chesapeake Bay. This uniquely mobile facility sits atop two linked barges that hold six 850-gallon tanks where oyster larvae will set on recycled shells and reef balls. When the oysters have set, these shells and reef balls are planted on nearby sanctuary reefs or given to volunteers to grow as part of CBF’s VA Oyster Gardening Program. For years CBF has done this setting work on the campus of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), which has been a key partner in supporting restoration efforts. While CBF continues some activities on shore at VIMS, the new mobile facility has increased the efficiency and doubled the capacity of our oyster-setting work and reduced the risk of losing oysters during transit as the oysters are grown on the rivers they will be planted in. As a result, CBF can plant millions more oysters and engage with new communities as the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance works toward a goal of 10 billion new oysters in the Bay by 2025.
Poster Board OEE.6

Going Further, Together: Values and Benefits of a Large Scale Regional Collaborative Group

Lorie Staver, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

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The Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative (CBSSC) is a regional collaborative network of scientists, coastal managers, decision makers, and community representatives whose aim is to assess how changes in sea level will affect the Chesapeake Bay. A working group of scientists (i.e. SET WG) who monitor tidal wetlands at multiple sites throughout the Bay region have been meeting since 2015 to pool together site-specific data to assess regional trends. This group represents several different organizations (e.g. NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserves, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, state natural resources departments, academia). Importantly, the group has built trust over the years which allows participants to work collaboratively and feel comfortable sharing intellectual property and data. Regular meetings among the working group members have strengthened cross-agency collaborations and fostered synergy among the group members that has resulted in a variety of work products that include: an interactive map inventory of surface elevation tables and associated metadata within the CBSSC, an outreach video highlighting monitoring at a suite of marsh types, multiple joint grant applications to pursue monitoring analyses, and journal publications currently in development. The SET WG also largely influenced the planning and content of the CBSSC Marsh Resilience Summit, the articles for a Wetlands Journal Special Feature on “Tidal Wetland Resilience to Increased Rates of Sea Level Rise in the Chesapeake Bay”, and a workshop on vertical land motion. This poster will describe the benefits and challenges of a regional working group connected by mutual scientific objectives, and approaches to forging a productive working relationship. Given the geomorphic suite of different marsh types, we feel that this working group yields a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Poster Board OEE.7

Shorebird Science and Conservation Collective, A New Project to Translate Shorebird Tracking Data into On-The-Ground Conservation.

Candace Stenzel, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

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Shorebirds are among the planet’s most migratory groups of animals. Scientists across the Americas have used miniature technologies to track species, revealing hemisphere-spanning journeys. Shorebirds travel thousands of miles every year, and coastlines and estuaries are of particular importance to shorebirds for feeding, resting, and nesting. However, coastlines and estuaries are changing, impacted by industrial development, urbanization, and altered hydrology. These alterations are a significant contributor to declines in shorebird numbers. Some populations have lost over 70% of their numbers in just the past 50 years. But restoration projects, protected areas, private lands conservation, and effective outreach activities are in turn, creating habitats for shorebirds along coasts and estuaries. The challenges and opportunities of conserving shorebirds across multiple sectors emphasize the need for coordinated, focused attention on shorebird conservation and access to available data on shorebird use and connectivity of coastal and estuarine habitats. The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's newest initiative, the Shorebird Science and Conservation Collective, is one such group aiding in these efforts. The Collective is a partnership of over 50 scientists and practitioners who have contributed tracking data collected from over 2,800 individuals of 29 shorebird species to inform on-the-ground conservation action. This poster will introduce the Collective and highlight partner case studies showing how tracking data is used to support their work. Examples include informing species status assessments at the National level, siting of conservation easements at the regional level, and outreach initiatives at the local level. The Shorebird Collective is bridging this gap for effective shorebird management of coastlines and estuaries.
Poster Board OEE.8

Everyone Poops - Keeping Waste of Out Puget Sound One Load at a Time

Jeff Barney, NW Mobile Pumpout and Environmental Services

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The South Sound Mobile Pumpout Program operates two custom built Pumpout Vessels covering an extensive area of islands, bays and inlets. The program is funded in part by "Clean Vessel Act Funds" to help reduce pollution from recreation vessel sewage discharges into U.S. waters. In a collaborative partnership with NPO's, private shellfish companies, and local government we service this remote section of Puget Sound. We offer FREE Pumpout Services and educate recreational boaters about the greater Puget Sound Estuary and its No Discharge Zone classification. This poster will tell the story of Captain Paul Weyn days on the water, the interesting people he encounter's and how he educates our boaters about water quality and No Discharge into this fragile estuary we call Puget Sound.
Poster Board OEE.9

Crowd Sourcing Plastic Pollution Data Throughout the United States

Tracy Weatherall, Mission-Aransas NERR

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A citizen science program called Nurdle Patrol has recorded plastic pellet concentrations along beaches, lake shorelines, riverbanks, and railroads from volunteers conducting 10-minute surveys. Over 5,000 volunteers have collected over 12,000 surveys at over 5,000 sites across the United States, Mexico, and 16 other countries to help identify possible sources of the plastic pellets (nurdles). Nurdles are small plastic pellets that are the basis of almost everything plastic. Nurdles look like food to animals causing possible intestinal blockage and/or starvation if eaten, and they absorb harmful chemicals in the environment that are known to have negative impacts on fish and wildlife. Other benefits to the Nurdle Patrol program include removal of nurdles from the environment, creating an awareness about the nurdle issue, and using citizen science data in management decisions. This presentation will focus on Nurdle Patrol efforts by citizen scientists along the Gulf of Mexico, what the data is showing, and future direction of the program in changing policy about plastics reaching the ocean.
Poster Board OEE.10

Lessons Learned While Restoring Oysters to New York Harbor

Jennifer Zhu, Billion Oyster Project

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Billion Oyster Project (BOP) is a non-profit organization with a mission to restore oyster reefs to New York Harbor through public education initiatives and engaging one million new yorkers in the process. Since 2014, BOP has made efforts to foster awareness, affinity and understanding of the harbor by engaging New Yorkers directly in the work of restoring one billion oysters to the estuary. This presentation focuses on some of the lessons learned through years of research and hands-on experience of oyster restoration in the harbor. Starting with aquaculture, we found higher spat (oyster larvae that settled on shell) count at lower depths during settlement within our hatchery container. This was expected as oyster spat prefer to settle away from the light source (where it is likely affected by temperature changes) and the water pump near the top of the container. We also found that certain restoration techniques and structures may be more appropriate at different oyster restoration sites, which can be identified through pre-installation surveying for bottom substrate (sediment characterization and benthic sampling), wild oysters, and biodiversity (epibenthic and fish surveys) of the site. Moreover, a combination of different oyster restoration techniques and structures for one site or project can be used to jump start the oyster population and maximize larvae settlement, in addition to partnering with other practitioners to restore ecological function and protect vulnerable shorelines through wetland restoration and living shoreline installations. Consistent feedback and input from staff and volunteers that participate in the restoration process will help incorporate these lessons learned into our protocols and shared with organizations alike. BOP strives to build upon past experience and explore new eco-friendly designs for estuary restoration that will not only enhance marine ecosystems but also serve New Yorkers.
Poster Board OEE.11

Spreading Awareness and Prevention of Marine Debris through Community Cleanup Events

Jessi James, Mississippi State University Extension Service

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Marine debris constitutes any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and, directly or indirectly, disposed of or abandoned in the marine environment. The presence of marine debris has been shown to have significant environmental and economic impacts. Unfortunately, the quantity of marine debris is increasing at accelerating rates due to the increased production of single-use items and poor stewardship practices. To address these issues, a team of Extension specialists founded the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup Program (MSCCP). The mission of the MSCCP is to prevent and remove litter from the environment through education, outreach, research, and cleanup events. During cleanup events, the relevant information is utilized to create marine debris-focused outreach materials that are distributed through a variety of methods, including social media and direct presentations. Feedback gathered during outreach events has led to several additional activities and materials for the program. These activities include the addition of a July 5th Star-Spangled cleanup, monthly cleanups at peer-suggested sites, as well as the creation of the Mississippi Inland Cleanup Program (MSICP). This new program will extend the cleanup efforts inland to serve a total of twenty-one counties across the southeastern region of Mississippi by promoting trash-free education and additional cleanup events.
Poster Board OEE.12

Science in Action: Evaluating the Application of CTP Skills and Knowledge to Decision Making

Patricia Hopp, ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve, NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholar

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The Coastal Training Program (CTP), located within the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve, provides science-based trainings to South Carolina’s coastal decision makers and the community. These trainings provide hands-on skills and knowledge that will help leaders address natural resource management and foster a more resilient coastal community. An evaluation of the program is crucial to maintaining high quality trainings for community members. An initial survey gathered general information on participant success in their attempts to implement knowledge and skills learned at CTP events. This survey was sent out to most every participant in one or more of the Coastal Training Program’s 61 events since January 2019 which included over 1300 participants. 83 participants responded to this survey. From those participants, seven interviews were conducted with questions asking about the participant’s experience in coastal decision making, the Coastal Training Program, and how they have tried implementing skills learned from CTP events into their workplace and community. Responses from these interviews were used to create success and challenge stories of CTP participants. The stories indicate that CTP is having a positive impact in the community through the success of participants. However, changes made in the program could promote more long-term solutions and awareness for increasing concerns along the South Carolina coast.
Poster Board OEE.13

Fostering Water Quality Management and Flood Resilience with the Coast Watershed Game

Brenna Sweetman, NOAA Office for Coastal Management

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Coastal regions are densely populated, ecologically rich, and economically valuable environments that are also increasingly threatened by water and coastal hazards. Serious environmental management games help improve understanding of best practices to address these challenges through hands-on experience that improves critical thinking and creative problem solving. The Coast model of The Watershed Game, a large format board game developed by a team from Minnesota Sea Grant, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, is one such tool to educate and engage local leaders and youth on the interconnection of water quality, land use and flood resilience. Developed through social science research activities with Gulf and national stakeholders, the game is designed to facilitate conversations on water quality and flooding challenges; introduce plans, practices and policies to improve water quality and resilience; and inspire individuals to take actions and change behavior to support clean water and future flood resilience. These topics are crucial as coastal communities pursue new, more robust strategies to manage, protect, and restore their communities and resources in the face of climate change. The team is pleased to share the final versions of the classroom and local leader versions of the tool to support the health and vitality of our coastal regions through hands-on learning and engagement.
Poster Board OEE.14

Risk Communication: A Campaign for Coastal New Jersey

Devon Blair, NJDEP

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The NJ Coastal Management Program in partnerships with the NJ State Council on the Arts and the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, work with NJ communities in creative ways to communicate risk to flooding. The risk communication campaign aims to increase awareness and understanding of coastal flooding risks through several outreach efforts – community-based art program and social media campaigns. Each component aims to improve the methods and materials used by the state and local-decision makers, as well as community organizations and members, when communicating about the risk of coastal flooding. A series of community-based art installations allow us to work closely with community organizations around the state to host and partner with artists to create a unique artwork, events are held to engage communities around the artwork. To date there have been eleven Community-Based Organizations and artist teams that have participated in this program. “Know Your Tides NJ” social media campaign using infographics, videos, and photos to involve and inform the public about how they can be impacted from and need to plan for high tides. “Rising Together NJ” a communication campaign that allows anyone from NJ submit a variety of stories from anyone who has been impacted by flooding to raise awareness and how it impacts everyone across the state. MyCoastNJ, website and mobile app, allows users to connect through tools used to document tides, storm damage, beach cleanups, and more. NJ has deployed two tools “Highwater” and “Places We Love” with “Rising Together” tool coming soon. Through Risk Communication: A Campaign for Coastal New Jersey is able to share the importance of understanding flooding and how you can best protect yourself while communicating in a way that is understandable and welcoming to community members.
Poster Board OEE.15

The New and Improved NOAA NCEI Coastal Water Temperature Guide

Jennifer Webster, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) / National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)

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We are introducing a new twist on a great beach companion - the NOAA NCEI Coastal Water Temperature Guide. This popular interactive map provides recent ocean and Great Lakes temperatures based on data collected from buoys, tide gauges, and other monitoring stations from NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center and NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. Newly added to this product, is a daily, optimally interpolated sea surface temperature satellite image which fills in the water temperature gaps between physical stations. The satellite layer is clickable and will reveal a daily climatology temperature calculated by NCEI's Surface Marine in-situ group. Along with the popular calculated monthly means, users can use this information to plan recreational or vacation decisions in advance. Scientists, fishermen, and others can use this guide for invasive species determination, hypothermia estimates, or even when to store boats for over-wintering. By having access to regional data, users can compare the area’s current ocean temperature to past averages and also click through and view additional information collected by each monitoring station.
Poster Board OEE.16

Oyster Reef Exploration: Using Virtual Reality as a Method of Science Communication

Katherine Harris, University of Central Florida

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First-hand, positive experiences with nature are a dominant factor in developing a person’s concern for the environment and influences engagement in conservation and restoration. For many people, gaining first-hand experience is limited, particularly for inaccessible habitats like oyster reefs. This impacts people’s awareness and may reduce community support for restoration efforts. The use of innovative and creative mediums of science communication can be used to increase awareness and environmental attitude in these cases. Virtual reality (VR) is an immersive virtual environment that simulates realistic experiences. Additionally, it has the power to evoke the same cognitive processes that occur when people interact with spaces in the real-world. Oyster reefs in Mosquito Lagoon, Florida were used as a case study. Through VR, participants learned about the importance of oyster reef habitats and how restoration can re-establish vital ecosystem services. It was hypothesized that oyster reef restoration communicated through a VR medium would increase participants’ knowledge and environmental attitude compared to an in-person, outreach-style of science communication. Realistic, 360° videos of oyster reef restoration projects were captured and displayed through fully immersive VR headsets along with narration. The in-person outreach consisted of games and activities that mirrored the content of the VR videos. A pre- post- assessment was used to measure the knowledge retention of participants and a pre- post- survey was used to measure environmental attitude. Preliminary results suggest that knowledge retention and environmental attitude increases in both the VR and in-person versions. However, viewing oyster reefs in VR was shown to have a stronger impact on participants. This preliminary data demonstrates that VR may be an effective way to increase access to threatened habitats and provide a positive, experience-based method of engaging with habitat restoration projects.
Poster Board OEE.17

Taking a Grassroots Approach: Local Community Science Partnership Pilots Environmental Justice Field Study for Phytoremediation Potential of Grasses on Common Contaminants in a Coastal Urban Park

Jacqueline Wu, Randall's Island Park Alliance

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Phytoremediation continues to be a highly researched area of remediation across the world. However, much of the research is conducted in controlled greenhouses or in areas with low disturbance. Meanwhile, many urban areas contain highly elevated soil level contaminants due to centuries of human and industrial use. Randall’s Island Park Alliance’s Park-As-Lab program, a community science research collaborative, and researchers from local universities developed a pilot field study to investigate the ability of plants and soil microbes to stabilize or degrade soil contaminants. This took place at a two-acre Living Shoreline recreational area recently constructed on a vacant lot at Randall’s Island Park, an urban park with large volume of pedestrian traffic. Randall’s Island Park sits at the juncture of East Harlem and South Bronx, two historically underserved communities. A result of unequitable city-planning, soil contamination is disproportionately distributed where people of color and low-income communities are located, increasing their risk of exposure to harmful contaminants. This project aimed to reduce such risks in East Harlem and the South Bronx by studying phytoremediation strategies and increasing soil safety awareness in an urban environment. Toward this goal, RIPA and public university partners facilitated phytoremediation research, engaged stakeholders in scientific research, and promoted youth development in STEM careers at local high schools through applied research, ultimately supporting youth to drive change in their communities.
Poster Board OEE.18

Community Ambassadors: Learning from Outreach for a Largescale Living Shoreline Project in South Carolina

Nicole Pehl, The Nature Conservancy

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The Boyd Living Shoreline project, primarily funded by the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation, will be the largest living shoreline in South Carolina upon its completion in 2023. Sized at one acre, the project will reduce site-specific erosion and create marine habitat while maintaining the look and function of a healthy marsh. Located alongside Morgan Park in downtown Georgetown, SC, this site is a community gem, offering refuge to people and animals alike in a small-town setting. Due to the site’s value among locals, community outreach has been a central focus during the project’s planning and design phase. Social restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented usual outreach initiatives, such as community forums and information-sharing workshops, leading to the formation of a Community Ambassador program. The goal of this program was to identify local representatives who were willing to learn about the project, disseminate information, offer input on the project’s design, and participate in follow-up meetings with the project team. To ensure that community representation was diverse and equitable, multiple avenues were used to find ambassadors, including flyers, Facebook ads, survey posters, and digital media. Working with the Ambassadors has built relationships, developed trust, and allowed for the free sharing of ideas between the project team and the community, leading to improved project design and community awareness. It has also led to additional outreach and engagement opportunities with various groups in the community, such as middle and high school students, library patrons, and business owners. The Community Ambassador program has proven to be an effective means of outreach for the Boyd Living Shoreline project and was vital to ensuring that community engagement and education occurred despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The project team will continue soliciting input from the Community Ambassadors through the project’s construction and monitoring.
Poster Board OEE.19

Partnerships in Action: Integrating Estuary Restoration Techniques into Recreational Angling and Education

Kevin Swain, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

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Since the inception of the SCDNR South Carolina Oyster Recycling and Enhancement (SCORE) Program has worked with more than 500 unique organizations who have volunteered time focused on estuarine habitat restoration activities. Over 20+ years, through volunteerism, more than 106,800 hours of service has been focused on oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and salt marsh (Spartina alterniflora) restoration at 136 coastal SC sites. None of these efforts would have been possible without the continued commitment and participation by volunteers and programmatic partners. Continued partnerships have allowed this program to continue growing since 2000. In 2019, SCORE partnered with the Southeast Atlantic Resources Partnership (SARP) to secure a grant from the Fish Habitat Partnerships (FHP) to involve SC recreational angling groups in the creation, pre-deployment planning, deployment, and monitoring of oyster reefs in waterways accessible by target groups. Due to the COVID-19, pandemic the SCORE team was unable to utilize previous restoration methods and instead integrated recycled oyster shells into fabricated wire mesh cages dubbed Manufactured Wire Reefs (MWRs). The MWR reef unit more effectively utilizes recycled oyster cultch while also allowing for a portable, socially distanced activity to engage recreational angling groups. SCORE and 16 recreational angling groups deployed 296 MWRs at 13 sites in coastal SC. This methodology shift along with new and existing partnerships within the estuarine conservation community has opened the door to a variety of new oyster substrates and communities to work with. One such project will engage 3 Title 1 K-12 schools with the goal of developing an estuarine habitat conservation ethic while fostering youth recreational angling in underrepresented communities. Students will be enrolled in a comprehensive educational curriculum developed by SCDNR and partner organizations involving students in activities related to salt marsh education, estuarine habitat creation, and recreational angling.
Poster Board OEE.20

WETshop: A Wetland Teacher Experience for Louisiana's Educators

Lindsay Seely, LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

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WETshop is a coastal awareness, teacher stewardship workshop that is typically held in mid-July for five days at the Grand Isle Fisheries Research Laboratory on Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island, Grand Isle. With approximately 15-20 Louisiana teachers in attendance, the goals of WETshop are: 1) to provide teachers with a comprehensive, phenomena-based look at wetland issues related to history, fisheries management, wetland habitats, wetland ecosystems, coastal land loss and restoration, water quality, and oil & gas exploration; and 2) to educate a large population of Louisiana’s citizenry about the serious issues that Louisiana is facing due to coastal land loss. WETshop provides educators the rare opportunity to interact with scientists in a field environment along coastal southeast Louisiana and interface this experience with classroom activities, which provide the tools needed to improve wetland education. One of the culminating activities is a field trip from freshwater to saltwater ecosystems to experience the changing landscape, including changes in water quality parameters, biodiversity, and land loss. This immersive experience encourages teachers to take their newfound knowledge back to the classroom to not only educate their students but their colleagues as well. Once teachers complete this workshop, they are encouraged to complete a six-hour wetland project for their students, coworkers, and/or community, which will have a long-lasting and valuable impact. Teachers take a pre- and post-assessment of the topics discussed over the course of the workshop, and data has shown from the 2021 workshop that teacher scores improved from 50% to an average of 86%. WETshop could not happen without the continued partnerships between LDWF, BTNEP, Port Fourchon Commission, Sea Grant Louisiana, The Nature Conservancy, CWPPRA, LUMCON, and LA Department of Natural Resources as they all contribute current and useful materials along with meaningful experiences for the teachers involved in this workshop.
Poster Board OEE.21

Stories from the Alabama Waterfront: Preserving the Oral Histories of Bayou La Batre

Jody Thompson, Auburn University

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Working waterfronts along the Gulf coast share a rich tapestry of historical, cultural and economic significance that can be difficult to communicate. One of the best ways to capture the fabric of the working waterfront is through oral histories. Over the years, many efforts have been made to capture the oral and video histories of those along Alabama’s working waterfront, resulting in a trove of valuable high-quality information that carries the importance of preserving these spaces. However, although a wide library of content exists, it remained piecemeal, serving as a static resource to be accessed on demand. In an effort to put these resources into a more active use, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium in partnership with Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and the University of Mississippi, worked with oral historian Anna Hamilton to create a dynamic, interactive picture of Alabama’s working waterfront. Using ArcGIS StoryMaps, the team used multiple media types to create an impactful audiovisual and interactive telling of arguably Alabama’s most important working waterfront town, communicating the importance of this economic and cultural system. The StoryMap (https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/7e91d589406f4ed2828c1b5504998c3b) includes historic, current, and future working waterfront trends, interviews with industry workers, cultural aspects and events, and other important information. Capturing and showcasing oral history interviews was particularly important, as many of the participants have passed on. Our StoryMap is one example of an outreach tool that can be used to tell a working waterfront story and utilize some of the many oral histories that have been gathered. We hope to leverage this tool to create a coffee table book as well as to transcribe and catalog a number of audio histories from the Alabama waterfront that can be used to further enhance our story.
Poster Board OEE.22

Using TNC Mapping Tools & Community Engagement to Enable Local Coastal Resilience Projects

Susan Bates, The Nature Conservancy

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The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and partners have developed an online coastal resilience tool (CR Tool) which allows users to plot information about sea level change, habitat change, living shoreline feasibility, and coastline change. Offline, TNC also maintains a land protection prioritization tool which further aids our Coastal Resilience (CR) Program. TNC’s CR work at the Virginia Coast Reserve is focused on and driven by our communities, so robust engagement is crucial to our process. Built with community input, the CR Tool is used by local decision makers to inform local and regional planning, by the public to inform property and community decisions, and by TNC to inform our local coastal resilience work, land protection and habitat restoration. This includes projects within Oyster Village, a seaside community on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, to enhance resilience to sea level rise and storm surge for both habitat and community alike. This poster will illustrate the capabilities of TNC’s CR tools and community engagement, including how these methods inform and enable coastal resilience work in the village of Oyster.
Poster Board OEE.23

People of Guana: Collaborative Science, Heritage, and Working with Descendent Communities

Glenda Simmons-Jenkins, Florida Public Archaeology Network and Gullah/Geechee Nation

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For 6,000 years people have called the Guana Peninsula in Northeast Florida home. Now, natural and cultural resources on the peninsula are threatened by climate change. The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM NERR) directly manages the southern portion of the Guana Peninsula, providing stewardship, research opportunities, and visitor access. Using a collaborative science mindset, the People of Guana project hopes to gain a better sense of how resources were used in the past and how they currently are being used by communities to ensure responsive resource management and relationship building with visitors, descendants, and other community stakeholders. One key descendent community is the Gullah/Geechee, descendants of Africans who were human trafficked to the coastal Southeastern United States. While a historic marker at the park entrance describes clearing and building done by enslaved Africans, as well as their removal to South Carolina in 1784, little is known about their lives on the Guana Peninsula. The current community is striving to fill in lost connections to these ancestral landscapes. This project combines archaeological investigations and applied anthropological methods to broaden the scope of interpreted history and connect living Gullah/Geechee descendants with the conserved marsh landscape to better understand their significant role in Florida’s collective coastal heritage.
Poster Board PPF.24

A Literature Review for Salt Marsh Insurance Feasibility Pilot Project

Hannah Crawford, The Nature Conservatory / Northeastern University

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Salt marshes cover 1.7Mha of land in the continental US and in particular, two-thirds of it can be found along the Southeast coast. They are gaining more attention than ever as climate change initiatives seek to maintain existing carbon stocks, sequester carbon, and adapt to climate change. Research has indicated that salt marshes sequester more carbon/acre compared to other habitats and on top of that they provide resiliency to coastal communities, making them a excellent location to combat climate change. Salt marshes face both acute and chronic threats, including damage from storms, sea level rise, and oil spills. After these events, rapid response is crucial to restore functional, resilient marshes. Funding these repairs and restoration projects is often prohibitively expensive and complex. Salt marsh insurance represents an innovative financial solution to enable salt marsh restoration after damaging events occur. The first phase of this salt marsh insurance feasibility assessment provides a comprehensive overview of hazards and threats to salt marshes, the types of actions needed for salt marsh repair and restoration, and restoration cost estimates. Salt marsh insurance can increase the resilience of coastal communities and salt marsh habitats by ensuring that funding is directed to salt marsh restoration when damages occur.
Poster Board PPF.25

Flooding the Gulf: The Federal Response to a Declared Fishery Disaster Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act

Dave Storment, Louisiana Sea Grant / Louisiana State University

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In 2019 the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway was open 123 days to alleviate floodwater pressure on the levees of New Orleans. This marked the Spillway’s longest open duration and the first time it opened twice in one year. The introduction of freshwater into the Gulf of Mexico, via Lake Ponchartrain, had deleterious effects on saltwater species. State monitoring trawls indicated that brown shrimp populations had dropped over 80%, and a June study found an oyster mortality rate of over 90%. The affected fisheries were estimated to have lost over $100 million in dockside revenue. These unprecedented events led to fisheries disaster declarations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. While disasters may trigger one or more disaster declarations, the process and timeline can vary widely. Fisheries disaster declarations are one of the declarations that may follow a natural disaster, but many fishermen do not understand the process by which one is declared or how the funds are allocated and administered. Additionally, these fisheries disaster declarations require evidence of impact, which differs from other disaster declarations that the impacted individuals may be familiar with. Anecdotal evidence from stakeholders demonstrates lack of understanding about fisheries disaster aid resources, timelines, process, and access to the funds. This poster will outline the steps leading up to and following the 2019 fisheries disaster declaration, the awarding of funds, the agencies involved, and how the funds were allocated, as well as highlight challenges with this process and potential areas for improvement. It will also discuss outreach methods used by Louisiana Sea Grant to provide information to impacted stakeholders in a quick and accessible method.
Poster Board PPF.26

Uniting Partners and Resources to Protect Central and Southwest Florida’s Future Water, Wildlife, and Habitat: a Habitat Restoration Needs Plan for the Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership Area

Nicole Iadevaia, Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP)

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The Habitat Restoration Needs plan was created for the protection of Central and Southwest Florida’s water and wildlife through habitat restoration, conservation, and effective management. The partnership works together toward a common vision using landscape-level recommendations and maps from the project to meet natural systems needs while balancing other land use needs in the region. These include community needs such as land for development and economic growth, agriculture, water supply, and flood reduction. A strategic and opportunistic approach will minimize the impacts of threats in this area such as construction of transportation corridors, new development, and climate change. During the process, stakeholders from a variety of perspectives were involved in implementation, from municipal land use and transportation planners to ecologists and environmental land managers. National Estuary Programs are uniquely positioned as a collaborative of governmental, non-profit, and community partners pooling resources to research, plan and implement this type of regional project. Planning for the future also needs to account for habitat shifts that may occur in response to climate change. The project modeled habitat migration in response to sea level rise and also evaluated how climate will be impactful in other ways for non-tidal inland areas. Looking at habitat migration by examining effects on evapotranspiration, rainfall, and future hydrological conditions will be a helpful planning tool for managing and preserving strategic natural areas for partners in upper reaches of the watershed, especially as municipalities continue to build to accommodate growth. While many are focused on sea level rise, National Estuary Programs work regionally and could step in to fill research gaps, taking the lead on examining climate impacts throughout the watershed, and helping partners to make strategic decisions for the future to meet increased needs across the spectrum.
Poster Board PPF.27

Supporting Water Resources Planning through Long-Term Hydrological Monitoring in Texas Bays and Estuaries

Zulimar Lucena, U.S. Geological Survey

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The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas General Land Office, has established the Texas Coastal Hydrologic Monitoring Program to support water resources planning. The USGS Texas Coastal Hydrologic Monitoring Program combines the collection of continuous and discrete streamflow and water-quality data to support calibration and validation of estuarine hydrodynamic and salinity transport models and provide data that informs on the role that freshwater inflow plays in supporting habitats and estuarine productivity. Continuous water-quality data (temperature and specific conductance at a minimum) are collected at eight USGS monitoring stations in Galveston Bay, Matagorda Bay, and Sabine Lake. Four additional USGS water-quality monitoring stations will be installed at existing Texas Coastal Ocean Observation Network stations during 2022–23 to support coastal management and resiliency activities. In addition to continuous water-quality monitoring stations, continuous streamflow data and discrete nutrient and suspended-sediment samples are collected from five major river basins that empty into bays and estuaries in the Texas coast. These data are used to assess the variability and timing of freshwater, nutrient, and sediment delivery into bays and estuaries. In these five major basins the USGS also implements sediment surrogate techniques to estimate suspended-sediment concentration and loads on a continuous basis based on turbidity or acoustic backscatter data. The combination of multiple monitoring activities provides short-term and long-term datasets from which changes in water quality over time can be studied to help inform restoration and resiliency efforts and a variety of water resource management decisions.
Poster Board PPF.28

California Coastal Commission Whale Tail Grant Program Equity Analysis

Korrin Davis, California Coastal Commission

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The California Coastal Commission has regulatory authority over development along the coast in balance with the protection of coastal resources, environmentally sensitive habitats, and public access through careful planning and regulation of environmentally sustainable development, rigorous use of science, strong public participation, education, and effective intergovernmental coordination. In 2019, the Commission adopted its Environmental Justice Policy to provide guidance on how the Commission will implement its environmental justice authority and integrate the principles of environmental justice, equality, and social equity into all aspects of the Commission’s program and operations. As part of this effort, the agency’s Public Education Unit is conducting an end-of-year equity analysis on the WHALE TAIL® grant program, which supports experiential education and stewardship of the California coast and its watersheds. More than $3 million was distributed in the 2021/22 grant cycle, with a maximum award of $50,000. Grant projects engage both youth and adults and can take place anywhere in California. The analysis entails collecting data from grant proposals, hosting listening sessions with grantees, and surveying grantee organizations’ current practices in collecting demographics. Grant proposal data will provide an overview of how many programs offer translation services and engage underserved and/or BIPOC communities. The grantee programs’ anticipated participant demographics will also be analyzed to identify populations that need further meaningful engagement and consideration. This data will help inform future actions that can be implemented by the Public Education Unit to ensure the Whale Tail application is accessible to a larger audience and that grant programs are catered to a diverse array of participants. The findings from this analysis are broadly applicable and can be used by other grantors who aim to improve diversity and equity efforts through their programs.
Poster Board PPF.29

Planning for Everglades Restoration Success: Overview of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan Adaptive Management

Michael Simmons, Jessica Dell, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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Authorized by Congress in 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) aims to find the correct balance among flow characteristics throughout the Everglades by changing the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of water leading to improved ecosystem health and ensuring quality of life in south Florida. The goals of CERP are to enhance ecological and economic values and social well-being. The 2003 Programmatic Regulations for CERP (ProRegs) provided for the establishment of an adaptive management (AM) plan for CERP. The ProRegs define AM as “the continuous process of seeking a better understanding of the natural system and human environment in the South Florida ecosystem, and continuous refinements in and improvement to CERP to respond to new information resulting from changed or unforeseen circumstances, new scientific and technical information, new or updated modeling; information developed through the assessment principles contained in CERP; and future authorized changes to CERP to ensure that the goals and purposes of the CERP are fulfilled.” Completed in 2015, the CERP Programmatic AM Plan describes: (1) the scientific framework and processes upon which Everglades restoration is undertaken; (2) how new knowledge is integrated into decision making; and (3) how and when adjustment to CERP implementation can be made. The CERP Programmatic AM Plan identifies and prioritizes system uncertainties related to implementation, describes strategies to address uncertainties, and provides management options linking monitoring to implementation. The CERP AM Plan provides the framework to inform changes to projects and their operations, updates to CERP implementation schedules and the System Operating Manual, revisions to planning models, and updates to the CERP monitoring plan
Poster Board PPF.30

Equity of Living Shoreline Access in Pinellas County

Linden Cheek, University of South Florida

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Pinellas County Environmental Management has begun to pursue living shorelines as a mitigation and adaptation strategy to coastal erosion and sea level rise along public county shorelines. Living shorelines leverage the natural infrastructure of native shoreline plants and animals to protect against flooding and erosion, while providing additional benefits including improving the health of the local ecosystems and the creation or preservation of greenspace. Decision makers currently use a Living Shoreline Suitability Model (LSSM) to aid in selection of sites for publicly funded living shorelines. While this model considers many bio-physical elements in its recommendation, it does not consider any socio-economic factors, such as the demographics of who will have access to living shorelines benefits based on their spatial placement. This is particularly important as federal agencies consider new #justice40 requirements for projects. As such, this research analyzes the equity of current living shoreline placement in Pinellas County and provides recommendations to better integrate these considerations with the LSSM. Nine publicly funded living shorelines projects, completed and planned, were identified in Pinellas County and plotted in ArcMap. Publicly available census data was used to assess the racial and income-level demographics of the populations who have access to the protection and green-space benefits of living shorelines. This was compared to the demographics of Pinellas County as a whole. Site visits were done to observe access and use of those sites. Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) within ArcMap is being used to improve the LSSM performed including factors to consider the demographics impacted. Results to date include new locations for future living shorelines projects using an equity lens based on socio-economic demographics.
Poster Board PPF.31

Barriers and Enablers of Living Shorelines in Florida

Carlie Dario, University of Miami

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Living shorelines have been promoted as a nature-based alternative to hard infrastructure for shoreline stabilization while providing additional ecosystem services. In the state of Florida, where sea level rise and increasing storms impact coastal areas, living shorelines are recognized as a state research priority to support coastal risk reduction and resilience goals. However, while the ecological benefits of living shorelines are well-documented, few studies have examined the social and institutional factors that hinder or support the implementation process of living shorelines in the state. Combining expert interviews with a legislative policy analysis, this study aims to answer the primary research question: what are the perceived barriers and enablers of living shorelines in the state of Florida? This study provides initial results from 28 individual, semi-structured interviews with living shoreline practitioners and contractors exploring their perceptions on the challenges, opportunities, and potential conflicts and congruences of current practices with existing policies. This study applies thematic analysis and the Institutional Analysis Development (IAD) to characterize the social-institutional action space of living shorelines based on three major aspects of the Framework: 1) the physical environment, 2) community of actors, and 3) informal/formal rules impacting the implementation of living shorelines. Preliminary analysis show regional district and stakeholder group differences, but find common barriers (b) and enablers (e) across these three components: 1) physical environment (b: uncertainty toward effectiveness, areas of high urban and boat traffic; e: enhancement and experimentation); 2) community of actors (b: homeowner misperceptions, permitting staff turnover; e: education of uncommon audiences, increased demonstration sites); 3) informal/formal rules (b: permitting process; e: network groups, preference and standardization of living shoreline criteria). Ultimately, this research provides a baseline of experiences with Florida living shorelines to potentially pave new directions in planning and policy of nature-based solutions in the state.
Poster Board PPF.32

Developing a Louisiana Living Shorelines Permitting Guide

Sarah Morgan, Louisiana Sea Grant Law & Policy Program/Loyola Law School

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Louisiana has over 7,700 miles of tidal shorelines and over 3 million acres of coastal wetlands. Nature based solution, such as living shorelines, are a more ecologically-sound approach to controlling erosion while maintaining ecosystem services. However, living shorelines can be more difficult to permit than traditional hard infrastructure.Louisiana Sea Grant is developing a state-specific Living Shoreline Permitting Guide that will step landowners through the regulatory process with Louisiana DNR and the USACE. Although the USACE created Nationwide Permit 54 for living shorelines, that permit is not available for use in coastal Louisiana. However, living shorelines may still be permitted through traditional permitting routes. While other Gulf states have already developed similar guides, a Louisiana-specific guide will provide property owners a detailed analysis of the legal permissions needed within the state and the agencies involved. In addition to permitting, property owners have been hesitant to implement living shorelines due to liability concerns. These liability concerns can be true impediments to advancing the living shoreline community in Louisiana. The goal of the guide is to provide a greater understanding of the legal issues so that property owners can make more informed decisions. This presentation will provide an overview of the living shoreline permitting process in Louisiana from a state and federal perspective as well as discussing legal liability concerns.
Poster Board PPF.33

Vulnerability and Resilience of U.S. Coastal Wetlands to Sea Level Rise

Kelly Van Baalen, Climate Central

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Coastal wetlands are some of the world’s most economically and ecologically valuable habitats. Regrettably, the United States is rapidly losing its coastal wetlands and their associated benefits. Sea level rise due to climate change threatens to accelerate this critical loss. Coastal wetlands have some natural defenses against rising waters, but they need human help to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. In a new study published in Environmental Research Communications, Climate Central analyzed the factors—how fast seas rise, how much undeveloped land is conserved for wetlands to migrate into, and how fast wetlands can accumulate sediment and grow vertically—that will decide whether America’s coastal wetlands thrive or drown. Each of these factors is controlled, to at least some extent, by human choices, so understanding their impact empowers communities to make more informed decisions about their wetlands conservation strategies. We find that conserving land for wetlands migration is a decisive factor in the future of U.S. coastal wetlands. Assuming moderate wetlands growth and modest cuts to emissions, conserving all available land for wetlands to migrate into would limit coastal wetlands loss to a 17% reduction in wetlands area by 2100, down from a 63% reduction if all that land is developed. To complement our research, we have built a pair of interactive mapping tools which allow users to explore the possible futures of coastal wetlands in their area and how the pace of sea level rise, how fast wetlands can grow vertically, and how much land is conserved for wetlands migration impact those futures.
Poster Board PPF.34

Using Performance Measures for Restoration Evaluation and Assessment in the Florida Everglades

Tasso Cocoves, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) aims to restore natural functions of the Florida Everglades by improving the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of water through the construction and operation of water management infrastructure. Ecological benefits are expected in freshwater and estuarine ecosystems with increased wetland connectivity and freshwater flow projected from CERP implementation. In the planning process for CERP projects, several alternative project designs are evaluated to ensure that projects are successful and achieve desired outcomes. REstoration COordination & VERification (RECOVER) is a multi-agency team of scientists, modelers, planners, and resource specialists designed to perform system-wide analyses to support the CERP. RECOVER contributes to the evaluation of project alternatives by conducting an independent review using a combination of project-specific and RECOVER system-wide performance measures. Performance measures can be used to quantify anticipated ecological and hydrologic responses to project alternatives. For one CERP project, the Western Everglades Restoration Project (WERP), RECOVER conducted an evaluation of four project alternatives (WALT1R, WALT3R, WALT3RNL, and WALTHR) using output generated from eleven performance measures. In its evaluation, RECOVER found that WALT3R consistently performed the best among the performance measures within the WERP study area. However, outside of the study area, the project alternative reduced freshwater flows into Shark River Slough and the Florida Bay, which may negatively impact freshwater and estuarine organisms in those areas. These potential effects may be alleviated with increased freshwater budgets and operational flexibility provided by future CERP projects, like the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir. In conclusion, the use of performance measures enables CERP projects to anticipate the hydrologic and ecological impacts of project implementation, informing design and selection of project alternatives.
Poster Board PPF.35

The Everglades Vulnerability Analysis: An Iterative and Integrative Tool to Address Systemwide Uncertainties and Inform Decision-Making

Jenna May, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District

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Authorized by Congress in 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) aims to find the correct balance among flow characteristics throughout the Florida Everglades by changing the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of water, leading to improved ecosystem health and ensuring quality of life in south Florida. The Everglades is one of the largest and most expensive ecological restoration efforts in the world, and its implementation requires extensive cooperation among stakeholders to ensure that restoration efforts are successful. REstoration COordination and VERification (RECOVER) is an interdisciplinary, interagency scientific and technical team that is designed to perform system-wide analyses to support the CERP. RECOVER identified the need for the development and application of an ecosystem vulnerability model that would enable integrative analysis to ecological responses to multiple ecological stressors and restoration actions that operate on a wide range of scales. In collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service, the Everglades Vulnerability Analysis (EVA) was developed using Bayesian Belief Networks, which connect several disparate models to provide a system-wide understanding and predictive ability for the Everglades ecosystem. The EVA provides decision-support for restoration plans and has the ability to provide insight on responses and relative vulnerability of areas, species, or systems to climate-related long-term changes, such as sea-level rise.
Poster Board PPF.36

The REstoration, COordination, and VERification (RECOVER) Mission: Evaluating and Assessing Everglades Restoration

Rodrigo Sedeno, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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In 2000, the U.S. Congress authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) with the aim to restore the natural composition and functions of the Florida Everglades by improving the quality, quantity, timing, and distribution of water throughout the landscape. The goals of CERP are to improve ecological health in the freshwater and estuarine ecosystem as well as to contribute to other water-related needs in the region such as water supply and flood protection. CERP is the largest ecosystem restoration project ever undertaken and its implementation is driven by a unique federal, tribal, and state partnership to secure that restoration efforts are successful. REstoration, COordination, and VERification (RECOVER) is a multi-agency team of scientists, modelers, planners, and resource specialists that provides technical and scientific support in ways that are most effective in supporting CERP’s goals and objectives The RECOVER science-framework is designed to take a system-wide and integrative approach by evaluating the planning, design, and the performance of restoration projects using numerical models and other ecological tools. RECOVER’s primary tool for assessing the CERP is a system-wide ecological monitoring program, which aims to establish pre-restoration conditions to track and define ecological response as restoration progresses. Using these tools, RECOVER conducts scientific and technical evaluations and assessments for the CERP and communicates and coordinates the results to managers, decisions makers, and the public. It is acknowledged that there is uncertainty associated with predictions of ecological restoration responses. To inform implementation of the various CERP components, a formal process in the form of a sound adaptive management approach is exercised, and RECOVER applies this framework to address uncertainties by testing hypotheses through monitoring, linking science to decision-making, and making recommendations on how to adjust implementation, as necessary.
Poster Board PPF.37

The Community Playbook for Healthy Waterways: Strategic Planning for Holistic Community Action

Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

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The Playbook is a comprehensive collection of actionable recommendations to achieve and sustain community-wide nutrient management for water quality in our ponds, creeks, bays, and estuaries. This nutrient management strategy was developed for a Florida Gulf Coast community through a facilitated brainstorm of experts and practitioners, followed by research and stakeholder interviews to determine feasibility. More than forty specific recommended activities organized around ten topics aim to: reduce anthropogenic-based nutrient loading in natural systems; remove excess anthropogenic-based nutrients from natural systems; and build capacity and resilience of ecosystems and human systems to sustain nutrient management. Activities are keyed to type of strategy (research, policy, or education) and provide actionable information for implementation, including importance, overview, recommended approach, resources, status, performance measures, experts/leads, and cost-estimate or cost-benefit. The Playbook does not replace, contradict, or preempt existing management plans, but instead aims to focus, prioritize, and coordinate community activity and philanthropy at the grassroots level to accomplish water quality improvements. It also aims to engage community stakeholder leaders not traditionally involved in water quality management and provide a conduit by which they can engage with and add value to existing programs and initiatives. The Playbook can be adapted and customized by communities across Florida for use by municipal, county and state governments and agencies, non-profit environmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, businesses, homeowner associations and other leaders. Since the Playbook launched, the community has made progress in coordinating and implementing specific recommended activities. Here we present lessons learned.
Poster Board PPF.38

Leading Legislation: The Value of the Coastal Wetlands, Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act

Kacie Wright, Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA)

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The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA), approved by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, brings together five federal agencies and the State of Louisiana in a committed and concerted program to stabilize, protect and rebuild Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. CWPPRA’s area of activity encompasses nearly half of Louisiana’s population and thus, includes the public, local governments, stakeholders and nonprofit organizations in a synergistic approach to coastal restoration and protection. Though the program works specifically to restore and protect Louisiana’s wetlands, the impacts of the CWPPRA program are not bounded by state lines; Louisiana’s working coast is an economic, recreational and cultural asset for the nation. The restoration of Louisiana’s wetlands provides protection of oil and gas infrastructure and ports for shipping, healthy habitat and nursery grounds for commercial fisheries to flourish, direct influence on diverse cultures, and the rebuilding of ecosystems that capture and store carbon in wetland plants with complex and dense root systems. Since its inception, CWPPRA has funded over 230 coastal restoration and protection projects, building, protecting, and enhancing over 100,000 acres of wetlands, through a combination of restoration strategies. CWPPRA projects are notable for their interagency cooperation, academic collaboration, and local engagement to move a project from conception to construction in three to five years. CWPPRA restoration and protection projects are federally funded by the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Fund with a 15% cost-share from the State of Louisiana. CWPPRA is a successful federal-state partnership with far reaching impacts at the local, state, and national level. With 32 years of success, CWPPRA continues to work to address immediate restoration needs based on strong science, public participation, and agency cooperation.
Poster Board PPF.39

Land Acquisition for Estuarine Conservation and Management: Leveraging Community Partnerships in Response to Rising Costs and Competition

Savannah Horton, Texas Parks and Wildlife

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Galveston Island is a barrier island within the Galveston Bay Estuary that contains valuable habitats which provide a multitude of recreational and economic benefits. The island’s bayside wetlands improve water quality, support fisheries, and enhance resilience to storms, while it’s coastal prairies absorb floodwaters and sequester carbon. These habitats are experiencing severe decline due to the increasing threat of development and climate change. Intervention to protect land prior to disturbance and degradation is an important component of conservation on Galveston Island. However, growing human populations and competitive real estate markets have strained the conservation of land resources. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s (TPWD) mission is to protect and manage natural resources, thus the agency has a strong interest in conserving unprotected estuarine habitats. To contribute to this goal and empower local communities, TPWD partnered with a local organization, Artist Boat (AB), whose mission is to promote awareness and preservation of coastal margins through science and arts. AB owns the Coastal Heritage Preserve (CHP), a conservation area with a mission to acquire, protect, and manage approximately 1,372 acres of coastal habitat on Galveston Island. Artist Boat has successfully conserved 810 acres of land through eight transactions and three donations. TPWD has been able to assist with five CHP acquisitions and is currently working to acquire another 148 acres. Through this partnership TPWD has been able to further efforts to protect crucial habitats and participate in fostering a local community that has a strong relationship to their environment and values protecting it for future generations. The success of CHP and its ability to leverage a diversity of funding from individuals to federal grants is a testament to the importance of coastal management agencies cultivating strong relationships with community partners to address the challenges of protecting land in competitive environments.
Poster Board PPF.40

Collaboration Across the Coast: Public-Private Partnership Opportunities to Restore Louisiana’s Ecological Communities

Jessica Converse, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

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Since 2008, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has contributed over $11 million dollars in funding to non-federal partners and their restoration projects through a program known as the Conservation and Restoration Partnership Fund. The Partnership Fund is an additional tool used by non-governmental and non-profit organizations as well as parish governments and corporate entities to further their projects impact and build capacity locally. Partner designs have included swamp and coastal reforestation, shoreline protection utilizing nature-based solutions, marsh creation, terracing, and the construction of recreational areas to educate and enrich future generations. We are proud to have supported these projects, all of which have helped advance the objectives of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan. The mission of our state plan is to protect the natural, economic, and cultural resources of our coast and for our nation, a goal made possible through the collaboration and partnership with our communities. We encourage interested parties to apply August 2024!
Poster Board PPF.41

Recommendations to Reduce Coastal Wetland Loss through Interagency Collaboration

Susan-Marie Stedman, NOAA Fisheries

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This poster will present key issues and recommendations for interagency collaboration to reduce the loss of wetlands in coastal watersheds. The five major themes include 1) increasing the acreage of wetlands restored in coastal watersheds, 2) reducing loss of coastal wetlands to development, 3) reducing coastal wetland loss associated with silviculture in the Southeast, 4) supporting the collection, enhancement, and dissemination of landscape-scale monitoring data, and 5) conducting targeted outreach and stakeholder engagement. This work is being conducted/developed by the Interagency Coastal Wetlands Workgroup, which consists of representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Poster Board PPF.42

Restoration and Management of the Lower Perdido Islands in Orange Beach, AL

Kate Dawson, Moffatt & Nichol

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The Lower Perdido Islands are a group of three, small undeveloped islands located near Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Alabama. In recent decades, the valuable habitats of the Lower Perdido Islands complex have experienced sustained erosion and other ecological injuries from storms, intense boat traffic, and heavy recreational use of the islands. To support management and restoration of the islands the project team performed hydrodynamic and sediment transport studies, contributed to a Comprehensive Management Plan, and developed habitat restoration alternatives for the islands. The comprehensive management plan categorized the ecology and habitats of the islands and the anthropogenic influences that negatively impact the project area while providing conservation strategies and restoration concepts to support sustainability of the islands. Conservation strategies included enforcement, plantings, signage, and education and outreach to be coupled with on-ground restoration. Potential project alternatives included restoring historic island footprints, restoring island elevations, strategically placing material to fortify or protect specific zones within the project area, and creating new habitat. These concepts were developed to balance human uses with the conservation, restoration, and long-term sustainability of the Lower Perdido Islands. The project team evaluated the alternatives with consideration for numerous data and influences to advance from preliminary concepts to 30 percent engineering and design. Primary considerations included results of the hydrodynamic modeling and sediment transport study; feedback received from the client, stakeholders, and public; maximizing the habitat created, restored, or enhanced while minimizing impacts to existing habitat in the project area; and human use of the islands and surrounding waters. The alternatives included creation or restoration of marsh, beach, dune, and upland habitats through beneficial use of dredged sediment.
Poster Board PPF.43

A Model Approach to Ecological & Community Resilience in Oxford, Maryland

Amanda Poskaitis, National Wildlife Federation

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The Oxford ecological & community resilience project employs an innovative and holistic design approach to address flooding and coastal erosion issues throughout the Town of Oxford, Maryland. The project utilizes a combination of natural and nature-based features to mitigate impacts at several high-priority sites identified through the Town’s Stormwater Management and Shoreline Protection Master Plans. Project elements include beach nourishment, dune restoration, cobble headland breakwaters, and most notably, the creation of three offshore “living breakwaters”. While the use of breakwaters to interrupt wave-energy is a common approach across the Chesapeake Bay, creation of living breakwaters to protect municipal infrastructure and establish critical wildlife habitat is comparatively novel. Many coastal municipalities do not have adjacent habitats to restore as a means to mitigate erosion and flooding. In these cases, living breakwaters, built offshore of a project area, in conjunction with additional shoreline features, can serve as an innovative win-win approach for risk reduction and habitat creation. Advances in coastal engineering have reduced the implementation costs and increased effectiveness such that living breakwaters are an affordable approach for addressing coastal impacts where previously hard/gray infrastructure would have typically been utilized. The proposed project further advances thinking on how to protect coastal communities from climate-accelerated impacts by incorporating future projections to inform baseline build elevations and the materials used for project construction. Community involvement in this project has been a key component of its success from the beginning. National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with the town and Maryland Department of Natural Resources, engages community scientists in monitoring for horseshoe crabs and terrapins annually.
Poster Board PPF.44

Valuation of Ecosystem Services in Texas and the Limitations of Developing a Standard Methodology

Victoria Salgado, AECOM

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Traditional strategies and approaches to coastal hazard mitigation and resiliency have relied heavily on gray infrastructure; however, gray infrastructure has shortcomings. Green infrastructure on the other hand, draws on the services that nature provides. However, it alone cannot substitute for the civil engineering that gray infrastructure provides. Hybrid strategies that use both natural and/or nature-based green infrastructure systems in conjunction with traditional grey infrastructure offer maximum flexibility. The implementation of green infrastructure is becoming more widespread in practice, but there are still a few challenges with implementing green and hybrid infrastructure projects. In Texas, the coast is both the main trade hub for the rest of the state and the leading energy producer for the nation. As coastal populations increase, so does the need for better ways to increase coastal resilience to natural and human-caused hazards. While the benefits of ecosystem services are recognized, there is limited ability to directly compare green or hybrid infrastructure benefits and costs to those of gray infrastructure when assessing and selecting projects and identifying funding sources. As a result, opportunities to implement hybrid solutions for projects that are creating a more resilient Texas coastline can fall short.
Poster Board PPF.45

Estimating the Vulnerability of the Property Protection Ecosystem Service of Tidal Wetlands to Climate Change

Christina Folger, U.S. EPA/ORD/CPHEA/PESD

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Stressors such as climate change, pollution, and development affect ecosystem condition and consequently, they affect the goods and services that people use, appreciate, or enjoy that are produced by those ecosystems (i.e., ecosystem services, ES). Anticipating how ES are affected by stressors can allow stakeholders and managers to monitor key ecological attributes (KEAs) for changes of condition or to proactively protect or restore those features. We developed a conceptual framework and assessment methodology for identifying the KEAs necessary to produce ES, assessing the vulnerability of KEAs to stressors, and assessing which ecological processes can increase the resilience of KEAs to stressors. This method relies on mining existing information from peer-reviewed scientific articles. We demonstrate this method with a case study of the effects of storms and sea level rise (i.e., the stressors) on the property protection ES provided by tidal wetlands (i.e., the ecosystem). We identified 12 KEAs for the property protection ES, determined that KEA decline due to storms was most frequently associated with inundation (i.e., surge flooding), that decrease in wetland size/area was the most frequently reported impacted KEA primarily due to erosion, and that some KEAs (i.e., vegetation aboveground biomass and vegetation cover/density) can recover within 1 year of a storm, but others (i.e., wetland size/area and wetland platform elevation) can take more than 10 years to recover. A natural supply of sediment, accretion processes, plant growth and reproduction, and upland space for marsh migration were most frequently cited as processes that increase the resilience of KEAs. Our results also identify priority end points for condition-assessment monitoring and needs for research to fill critical knowledge gaps. The framework and assessment methodology are applicable to any ecosystem type, ES, and type of stressor, limited by the availability of published scientific information.
Poster Board PPF.46

Quantifying the Community Benefits of a Tidal Wetland Restoration Project in Oregon

Lauren Senkyr, NOAA Restoration Center

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At the Southern Flow Corridor restoration project on the Oregon Coast, tidal wetlands were restored in 2016 and 2017 to provide habitat for salmon and reduce flooding in the town of Tillamook, OR. The project created 443 acres of wetlands and opened 13 miles of tidal channels to migratory fish such as chum, Chinook, and threatened Oregon Coast coho salmon. It also reduced flooding to 4,800 acres of the surrounding community. A recent socio-economic analysis conducted by researchers at Oregon State University looked at theeconomic, ecosystem service, and community resilience benefits that the project had, including: -Supporting 108 jobs and $14.6 million in total economic output in Oregon. -Increasing the value of homes in nearby residential areas by 10 percent, with an average benefit of $19,000 per home. -Reducing flooding on Highway 101, a major transportation corridor. Fewer highway closures would save approximately $7,200 in travel costs per flooding event. -Improving water quality by decreasing the amount of sediment that accumulates in Tillamook Bay. Less sediment would decrease the amount of dredging needed to maintain shipping lanes, saving approximately $1,500 to $8,000 per year. -Storing 27,000 tons of coastal blue carbon. The estimated value of this carbon storage ranges from $530,000 to $736,000. -The publicly accessible project site also provides opportunities for activities such as hiking, kayaking, wildlife viewing, and a dog park. NOAA’s partners on the Southern Flow Corridor project included Tillamook County, Tillamook Estuary Partnership, Federal Emergency Management Agency, local landowners, the Institute for Applied Ecology, Oregon State University, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and many others.
Poster Board PPF.47

Resiliency for Compound Flooding: Preventing a Neighborhood from Being Stranded

John Frey, Weston & Sampson Engineers

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Not far from the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, the Ring Island neighborhood is situated close to the mouth of the Merrimack River in Salisbury, Massachusetts. In 1642, the Town founders recognized the significance of the abundant natural resources lying within the sheltered estuarine complex and granted Ring Island as a 2-acre parcel fishing camp. Today, coastal flooding during storms and extreme high tides inundates roads and causes damage to homes and businesses on the island due to the low elevation and restriction of tidal flow. Eight to ten times each year, the roadways are overtopped, leaving one evacuation route, stranding residents, and making it difficult for emergency vehicles to reach the neighborhood. Weston & Sampson and Woods Hole Group worked with the Town to successfully apply for funding under the Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Action Grant program. The project improves resiliency through elevating access/egress roads and by increasing tidal flushing with up-sized culverts. Stakeholders were engaged to discuss approaches, recommendations and project goals, and data was collected to compare the proposed roadway elevations with existing conditions. Final design included simulation modeling as well as a wind-wave analysis to determine the wave conditions during storm events. The project team worked with regulatory agencies to review the necessary permitting for the road and culvert design alternatives and included supporting documentation of the extent of saltmarsh restoration. The use of appropriately sized culverts will also promote re-establishment of healthy wetlands and provide improved aquatic habitat, water quality, and carbon sequestration. The reduction in flooding and associated damage will also reduce clean-up efforts and costs on access roads. The Town of Salisbury has received a grant for preliminary and final design of about $400,000 to move forward with the project.
Poster Board PPF.48

Keeping It in the System: Beneficial Use of Dredged Sediment to Increase Resiliency

Susan Cohen, University of North Carolina

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The reuse of dredged sediments to create and enhance Natural and Nature-based Features (NNBFs) has now emerged as a valuable strategy for increasing the resilience of coastal regions to sea level rise (SLR). Actions like thin-layer application of sediments to low-lying marshes have demonstrated value for coastal infrastructure protection (increased marsh resiliency to SLR and erosion), and the ecosystem and societal (carbon sequestration) services they provide. Utilizing dredged sediments for management approaches keeps critical sediment supplies within the local ecosystem instead of discarding sediment in upland or offshore sites where it is no longer available to support marsh accretion. Dredged sediments are available from routine dredging operations needed to maintain navigation channels, ports, Department of Defense facilities, and marina operations. Working on a regional level at two different sites in the Southeast (NC and FL), a NOAA ESLR project is developing and demonstrating an approach for the beneficial reuse of dredged sediments within their watershed of origin, that is, keeping the sediment in the system. Four projects are being developed with the MCSF Blount Island, FL, the City of Jacksonville, FL, Cape Lookout National Seashore, NC and the Michael J. Smith Airport in Beaufort, NC. The process of site selection and NNBF recommendation is guided by site conditions and vulnerability, proximity to and frequency of dredge events, and stakeholder goals. A model-based approach will be used for project design and the development of guidance through the iterative project development process will provide end-users with tools to identify areas where dredging needs align with coastal marsh vulnerability.
Poster Board PPF.49

Undoing the Past and Putting the Wet Back into Wetlands: The Chocolate Bay Prairie Unit Example

Michael Lane, Freese and Nichols, Inc.

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The Chocolate Bay Prairie Unit of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge (located south of Houston on West Galveston Bay) is a diverse complex of grasslands, wetlands, and mima mounds home to a variety of coastal wildlife. Historical ditching, diking, and construction of drainage ditches across the site diminished wetland hydrology and reduced water quality of runoff into Chocolate Bay. The Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Federation is supporting efforts to design hydrological modifications to the prairie that would restore some of the lost wetland ecological structure and function. Modeling under different rainfall scenarios was conducted to assess existing conditions and evaluate how different suites of restoration actions might improve wetland hydrology by modifying stormwater runoff flow amounts, duration, and direction. A critical feature of modeling was identifying changes that would not flood public or private property upstream of the site or impact operations of the local drainage district. Using the model to evaluate different alternatives facilitated development of the project implementation plan. As a result of this intensive analysis, ten different modifications including removal and addition of berms, partial filling of ditches, moving water control structures, and replacing old water control structures were proposed. Model analyses allowed the project team to optimize specific and combined actions reducing anticipated costs while maximizing improvements of the natural hydrological regime. Development of the permit application to make those changes has begun. A monitoring and adaptive management (MAM) plan has been developed to assess the effectiveness of the proposed changes on flow to wetlands. Challenges in developing the monitoring plan with limited time and budget included balancing access to remote locations, measuring extent and duration of wetland inundation, appropriate locations to monitor rainfall, and how to measure changes in flow.
Poster Board PPF.50

What Happens to a Wetland Ecosystem When Hydrological Issues Meet Environmental Policy Limitations?

Chloe Van Grootheest, Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy

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Wetlands are important ecosystems that support diverse communities, sequester carbon, provide nursery habitat for important fish species, and provide protection to our coastal cities from oceanic processes. Despite the numerous ecosystem services wetlands provide, they are vulnerable habitat and are often threatened by factors including habitat alterations, introduction of invasive species, and various natural or anthropogenic induced disasters. Huntington Beach Wetlands (HBW), located in southern California, consists of 127 acres of restored wetland habitat which was historically home to 3,000 acres and is now mainly urbanized. Unfortunately, HBW has experienced a variety of stressors throughout this past year, which included an oil spill and an unexpected 5-month inlet closure. While periodic inlet closure due to seasonal swell patterns is a regular occurrence for HBW, it is maintained by Orange County Public Works (OCPW) in order to prevent degradation of the HBW ecosystem. However, the inlet closure in April 2022 was unique in that it occurred abruptly just before California least tern nesting season. Because the HBW inlet is adjacent to a protected California least tern nesting reserve, this introduced a 5-month long challenge to open the inlet and reestablish tidal inundation to the HBW ecosystem. With help from OCPW, AES and State Water Board, HBW found innovative ways to maintain living conditions in the marsh. In response, Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy partnered with researchers at the California State University, Long Beach and Moffatt and Nichol to understand the impacts of this inlet closure on HBW’s ecosystem, and the events that followed. This included monthly fish community assessment and water quality monitoring throughout six locations of the wetland habitat. By the end of the project, we were able to draw associations between habitat condition and fish community and observed some interesting effects in the aftermath of the inlet reopening.
Poster Board PPF.51

Understanding Bayou La Batre’s Marine Economy

Marian Hanisko, NOAA Office for Coastal Management

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Bayou La Batre, Alabama is a town with a rich history of commercial fishing and interdependencies with the water. Known as Alabama’s Seafood Capitol, it boasts fleets of shrimp and oyster boats, a variety of seafood processors and wholesalers, as well as shipyards to keep the fishing fleet up and running. Aquaculture has also seen an uptick in the community. Bayou La Batre has recently made significant investments into two key projects to restore and enhance access to, and enjoyment of, the local waterways for both recreation as well as for commercial fishing through the Lightning Point Shoreline Restoration and the City Docks Redevelopment Projects, underscoring the importance of these resources to the community. To better understand the importance of the working waterfronts to Bayou La Batre, this project inventoried the number of businesses and workers who depend on the working waterfronts using data from ESRI Business Analyst. The project also incorporated flood hazard layers (FEMA Special Hazard Flood Area and Sea Level Rise) to explore potential risk from current and future flood events. This information was generated using publicly available data sets, and the findings can be used for a variety of purposes, including economic development planning, grant proposals, and hazard mitigation planning. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. (2022) Bayou La Batre’s Marine Economy: An Analysis by the NOAA Office for Coastal Management.
Poster Board PPF.52

The Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification's Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification.

Courtney Cochran, NOAA Ocean Acidification Program

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The Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification (IWG-OA) consists of representatives from 14 U.S. federal agencies and coordinates federal activity on ocean and coastal acidification. The IWG-OA recently released a draft Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification, which sets priorities for federal actions related to ocean acidification over the next 10 years. The first strategic research plan was released in 2014, and this is the first revision. It will guide research and monitoring investments that will improve our understanding of ocean acidification, its potential impacts on marine species and ecosystems, and adaptation and mitigation strategies. The plan focuses on seven priority theme areas: (1) monitoring; (2) research; (3) modeling; (4) technology development; (5) socioeconomic impacts; (6) education, outreach, and engagement strategies; and (7) data management and integration. Under each theme, the plan details multiple objectives as well as action items to support the objectives. There are a number of action items related to research and monitoring in the coastal and estuarine environment.
Poster Board PPF.53

Destin – Fort Walton Beach: Local government support for ecological research, restoration, and eco-tourism to improve quality of life.

Michael Norberg, Okaloosa County Coastal Resources

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The Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners (northwest Florida) recognize the direct relationship between healthy ecosystems and quality of life for citizens, visitors, and the economy. So much so that “preservation of natural resources” is engrained in the Board’s mission statement. With a forward-thinking vision for the future of Okaloosa County, the Board created the Coastal Resource Division which consists of a unique team of marine scientists whose goals focus on marine and coastal ecosystems. As a component of the Tourism Development Department (Destin – Fort Walton Beach), the Division is funded directly through tourism-derived monies at no cost to locals. Coastal Resources supports several of the county’s environmental and ecotourism initiatives including managing one of the state’s largest and most active artificial reef programs, sea turtle nest monitoring, marine debris removal, coastal restoration projects, coastal and marine related outreach and education, and promoting environmental stewardship. This presentation will highlight several successful Coastal Resource programs that foster ecosystem-minded approaches to improve quality of life, develop ecotourism-based products for Destin – Fort Walton Beach, promote environmental stewardship, and demonstrate the ability for local governments to balance economic growth by investing in environmental initiatives.
Poster Board PPF.54

Looking Forward: Conservation Goals for the San Francisco Bay Area's Estuary for 2035

Nikki Roach, SF Bay Joint Venture

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The San Francisco Bay Joint Venture (SFBJV) is part of the Migratory Bird Joint Venture Program and is one of 22 joint ventures across North America. In October 2022, the SFBJV released an implementation strategy, which includes a framework for habitat, wildlife, and bird conservation through 2035. The San Francisco estuary is the largest on the west coast of North America and supports 77% of California’s remaining perennial estuarine wetlands. It is critical habitat for millions of shorebirds and threatened species such as the Ridgway’s Rail (Rallus obsoletus) and the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris). To achieve our goals, we rely on our partnership of over 100 organizations across nine counties, to implement projects and advocate for policy measures and funding. Scientific studies from the SF bay area predict that sea levels will rise up to one meter by 2100. The SFBJV strategy lays the framework for implementing projects founded on nature-based solutions and building climate resilience. Our ambitious strategy highlights specific habitat and waterfowl goals required in order to meet both the SFBJV goals and state and federal 30 x 30 goals. We identify that a 14-fold acceleration in conservation efforts is needed to meet our goals to protect, restore, and enhance 1.2 million acres of habitat. To date we have helped conserve more than 60,000 acres of diverse coastal habitat. In order to continue to achieve success, we aim to increase funding and project implementation and expand our partnership and capacity.
Poster Board STP.55

Advancing the Science of Coastal Ecosystem Restoration

Christopher Miller, USDA-NRCS Cape May Plant Materials Center

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The development/release of conservation plants to commercial seed and nursery markets has traditionally been a high priority of the USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Program (PMP). While plant development remains an important function, emphasis on it is expected to lessen as a greater variety of desirable conservation plants become commercially available. Subsequently, the focus of the PMP has shifted to plant technology development. Direct Seeding Smooth Cordgrass for Tidal Shoreline/Marsh Stabilization: A marsh islands restoration project in Jamaica Bay, NY was conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers in coordination with the Cape May Plant Materials Center (PMC). Over 150 acres of marsh island habitat was restored with appropriate tidal marsh species and successful smooth cordgrass direct seeding methods were developed. Wetland Plants Salinity Tolerance Screening: Trials to develop standardized protocol assessing plant salinity tolerance in controlled greenhouse studies were conducted using automated hydroponic systems to subject plants to treatments of varying salinity concentrations. Preliminary trials examined Southampton Germplasm prairie cordgrass with plans to repeat the trial methods testing other PMP conservation plant releases. The primary goal of these trials is to determine appropriate plant recommendations for living shoreline restoration applications and use on marginal farmland to mitigate the impacts of saltwater intrusion due to climate change. Saltmeadow Cordgrass Variety Performance Study: PMC staff initiated a study to examine the performance of a local and two southern saltmeadow cordgrass varieties. Findings from this study could help distinguish the best performing variety for coastal restoration applications and NRCS practice standards in the Mid-Atlantic region. Improving Plant Diversity of Living Shoreline Plantings: Grasses and grass-like plants provide the primary stabilization for living shorelines. Including adapted flowering forbs and wildflowers provides additional ecosystem services. Seaside goldenrod, amberique-bean, and Virginia saltmarsh mallow are species under evaluation for shoreline planting applications.
Poster Board STP.56

Greening Up Gray Shorelines: Implementing a Green Bulkhead as a Means of Ecological Uplift

Taylor Beck, DNREC Division of Coastal, Climate and Energy

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Bulkheads are built to control erosion, but the installation of this gray infrastructure along tidal wetlands reduces marsh habitat and the associated ecosystem services marsh habitat provides. Green bulkheads can uplift the ecological value of the space by adding native marsh plants and creating functional habitat for intertidal organisms. Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Coastal Programs installed phase I of a green bulkhead project in front of an existing bulkhead in Little Assawoman Bay, Delaware. The design is an interpretation of a marsh organ structure in which PVC are installed in rows of declining height to accommodate tidal fluctuations. PVC were lined with natural burlap, filled with sand, and planted with smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora). We anticipate growth of the planted smooth cordgrass and potential recruitment of other plants and epifauna. Data will be collected April – October 2022 from the green bulkhead site, a bare bulkhead reference site, riprap, and natural marsh. Data collected will include scour patterns in and around the green bulkhead, vegetation growth, benthic epifauna and nekton species richness and abundance. Adaptive management strategies applied to the second installation phase (Fall 2022) as well as the results of data collected over the 2022 growing season will be presented. Erosion control and flood protection is becoming increasingly necessary, especially in areas with high erosion rates where living shorelines are not feasible. Green bulkheads may be a way to restore some functional ecological value to a gray area that is needed for shoreline stabilization. We hope to provide information and helpful strategies for how green bulkheads may be applied in other places as a means of ecological uplift.
Poster Board STP.57

Flooding Impacts of Hurricane Ian in Charlotte Harbor (Florida): What Was the Mitigation Role of Coastal Wetlands?

Megan Kramer, University of South Florida

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Over a third of the global population is concentrated within 100 km of the coast, with some of the fastest growing megacities located next to deltas. This concentration of development along our coastlines exposes dense human populations to coastal hazards such as storm surge and tropical storm winds, while also altering the natural landscape and reducing associated ecosystem services. Coastal wetlands such as mangroves have been recognized for their ability to attenuate wave energy and reduce inland flooding, though mangrove cover continues to decline globally. In this study, we evaluate a 2-dimensional hydrodynamic model of Charlotte Harbor during Hurricane Ian (2022), which passed through Port Charlotte as a Category 4 hurricane. The model, developed in Delft3D FM, features a high-resolution flexible mesh with grid lengths ranging from approximately 15 to 300 meters. Water level sensor data deployed before the storm by USGS, high water marks, and aerial imagery collected after the storm are used for model verification. We compare inundation levels and water velocity magnitudes in urban areas with and without mangrove forest buffer. Simulation results demonstrate the value that coastal wetlands serve for flood mitigation and indicate the potential role that wetland restoration and design may play in protecting tropical and subtropical regions from future extreme weather events.
Poster Board STP.58

Living Shoreline Solutions with Tied Concrete Block Mat

John Slupecki, Motz Enterprises, Inc.

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The focus point for this poster is the evolution of the living shoreline. The project is a repair using tied concrete blocks to repair sections of an oyster bag living shoreline. Oyster bags, and shells are not as available in many areas and a solution is needed that will also work with newly developing oyster spat. This project highlights on how to build a living shoreline that isn't just for low energy areas. The site is located within a tidal marsh of Sapelo Island, GA. Sapelo is a state-managed barrier island, the fourth largest in the chain of coastal Georgia islands between the Savannah and St. Marys rivers. Accessible only by passenger ferry, Sapelo provides a number of public access recreational, educational and lodging opportunities. The project was completed in Early 2022 by Zulu Marine and Aerial with the oversight of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), who manages the island. Motz Enterprises, Inc. is the manufacturer of the tied concrete mat called Flexamat. The company has been in business for over 30 years and is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio with multiple regional manufacturing facilities. We developed the first tied concrete block mats with the technology to manufacture and package concrete erosion mats into rolls. Through our experience in a wide range of environments, we have pioneered successful methods to achieve fully vegetated concrete erosion mats. www.flexamat.com
Poster Board STP.59

Living Shoreline and Oyster Reef Creation to Improve Water Quality and Resiliency along Forked River Beach, Lacey Township, NJ

Capt. Al Modjeski, American Littoral Society

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Historically, Barnegat Bay had over 12,000 acres of eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) beds. Yet today, nearly the entire natural oyster population is gone. With their elimination, Barnegat Bay not only lost the oysters themselves, but the ecosystem services they provided such as water filtration, wave energy mitigation, and nursery habitat. Funded by NJDEP, this restoration 1) Restored, enhanced, and protected 2,600 linear feet of shoreline with living shoreline oyster reefs, 2) Incorporated current outreach programs and stakeholder meetings to maintain project cohesiveness, and 3) Established a long-term volunteer program and public/private partnership to improve public and community awareness and protect reef resources.
Poster Board STP.60

Implementing Oyster- and Natural Fiber-based Living Shoreline Approaches to Reduce Shoreline Erosion and Saltmarsh Habitat Loss in South Carolina, USA in order to Increase Coastal Resiliency

Graham Wagner, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

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Estuaries form one of the predominant landscapes of the coastal zone in South Carolina, consisting of interconnected networks of intertidal salt marshes (predominantly Spartina alterniflora) often protected by fringing intertidal oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reefs that serve as natural breakwaters. Coastal salt marshes are, however, being lost at a higher rate than any other wetland habitat due to the synergistic effects of sea level rise, habitat degradation, coastal development, and shoreline hardening. Such loss is of concern as salt marshes represent one of the most biologically valuable habitats in the coastal region, supporting a suite of critical ecosystem services that cannot be achieved through the installation of sea walls and bulkheads that disrupt the land-water continuum and that are unable to adapt to sea level rise. In efforts to address salt marsh habitat loss, restore ecosystem services, and increase coastal resiliency, researchers at South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Marine Resources Research Institute (MRRI) have been conducting experimental scale living shorelines research to assess the effectiveness of nature-based solutions. Researchers at SCDNR have developed effective methods to install living shoreline materials that attract oyster larvae and rapidly create new 3-dimensional reef habitats. These living shorelines reduce wave energy, which facilitates sediment capture, and increases the elevation landward of the reefs. Over a longer timeframe, naturally occurring marsh grass fills in behind the reef in a manner similar to natural salt marsh proliferation. Monitoring these installations and quantifying metrics of success have facilitated improvements to material selection and workflows and to the implementation strategies that have achieved shoreline stabilization and habitat creation in a threatened coastal environment. This presentation will showcase some successes from this work across a range of environmental conditions.
Poster Board STP.61

Restoring Ecologically Beneficial and Resilient Infrastructure at the Mouth of the Maurice River

Shane Godshall, American Littoral Society

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The American Littoral Society and its partners are working on a project to protect the inlet of the Maurice River (Cumberland County, NJ), the most economically important river on Delaware Bay, using proven living shoreline methods. Erosion throughout the river mouth has made it unsafe and ecologically damaged while impeding economic growth. Our project will provide improved resilience and ecological value to the mouth of the Maurice River by protecting the marsh vulnerable to erosion while creating new intertidal habitat. By employing a combination of hybrid breakwaters and oyster reef/ribbed mussel beds along with salt marsh restoration, this project will achieve storm protection of fragile and rapidly eroding shorelines that shelter the port and surrounding communities. Work will be conducted in three phases. Phase I will involve the creation of a 600’ planted, hybrid rock revetment; Phase II will create 2,025’ of hybrid living shoreline breakwaters and subtidal oyster reefs/ribbed mussel beds placed landward of the breakwaters; and Phase III will create 4,600’ of hybrid living shoreline breakwaters and oyster reefs to reduce the wave energy impacting an adjacent dike and allow for the recovery of low marsh. Overall, the creation of the hybrid living breakwaters and revetment will protect infrastructure and surrounding communities, provide ecological uplift, and sustain economic activity.
Poster Board STP.62

Examining Sediment Contaminant Levels in Living Shorelines in Comparison to Both Natural and Armored Shorelines in Galveston Bay, Texas.

Ryan Gilbert, Lee College/University of Houston-Clear Lake

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Despite extensive efforts to armor coastal areas in the United States with concrete, vinyl, and metal bulkheads, problems such as subsidence, flooding, and shoreline stabilization persist, and in some cases, have been exacerbated by shoreline armoring. Living shorelines, or shorelines engineered to mimic natural shorelines, have emerged as a popular combatant against coastal squeeze, a process in which encroaching land development coupled to armoring leads to the loss of wetlands and the associated ecological services. An often-mentioned ecological service provided by natural shorelines is their ability to filter water by sequestering chemicals from the water column to the sediments. However, this function has yet to be quantified in living shorelines. Along the Texas coast, where subsidence and shoreline erosion rates are among the highest in the world, there have been over one hundred living shoreline projects developed on coastal properties, with minimal comprehensive scientific research to evaluate whether or not these engineered shorelines are functioning similarly to natural shorelines. Research regarding contaminants in living shoreline sediments is novel and extremely critical to understanding how these environments might influence the distribution of contaminants in estuarine systems. This study examined the concentrations of selected heavy metals and organic pesticides in living shoreline sediments and compared them to both natural and armored shorelines to test the hypothesis that living shorelines are more similar to natural shorelines than armored shorelines in terms of sequestering contaminants. Results from ICP-AES and GC-MS analysis of fifty-four (54) sediment cores collected from shorelines in the Galveston Bay system indicate the relationship between shoreline type and contaminant concentration may be obscure and contaminant dependent.
Poster Board STP.63

Examining Sediment Macrobenthic, Microbial, and Nekton Communities in Living Shoreline Restoration Sites in Galveston Bay, Texas

Myrah Urquidez, Lee College/UHCL

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Artificial bulkheads are a popular means of erosion control, but they have significant drawbacks. Restoring marsh grasses along shorelines is an alternative method of erosion control that also provides numerous ecological benefits. Living Shorelines are small-scale restored marshes that can be installed near homes and businesses. Our study evaluates the ecological functions of Living Shorelines. Benthic macroinvertebrates are reliable indicators of ecosystem health, as they respond predictably to stress and pollutants in the aquatic environment. Marsh ecosystems provide habitat to nekton that are valuable for food and sport. The marsh microbiome plays an important role in supporting a rich ecosystem, because microbes regulate many biogeochemical processes. This study tests the hypothesis that Living Shoreline sites are more ecologically similar to natural marsh sites than bulkhead sites. The hypothesis was tested by gathering data on benthic macroinvertebrates, nekton, and the microbiome. Data were collected from Living Shorelines, armored shorelines, and natural shoreline sites in Armand Bayou, Trinity Bay, and West Galveston Bay on the upper Texas coast. Sediment samples were collected and analyzed to characterize and compare the benthic macroinvertebrate and microbial communities, while modified minnow traps were used to assess the nekton community across these sites. The data partially supports the hypothesis: The abundance of benthic macroinvertebrates are higher in abundance and similarity between living shoreline and reference sites, whereas bulkhead samples are significantly lower in abundance. However, data on nekton suggest variability that may be affected by factors beyond those examined in this study. Microbial abundance data are in line with the findings of the benthic macroinvertebrates; microbial representations in several undisturbed Living Shoreline sites appear more similar to those found in natural marshes than in artificial bulkheads. The relative abundance of nitrogen cycling microorganisms in all Living Shoreline sites is also consistent with this trend.
Poster Board STP.64

Examining Shoreline Stability and Restored Plant Communities of Living Shorelines in Galveston Bay, Texas

Ashley Van Wieren, Lee College/UHCL

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The shorelines of Texas beaches, bayous, and bays are increasingly impacted due to erosion, sea level rise, and climate change. A common solution to the problem of retreating shorelines has been to armor shorelines using artificial bulkheads. However, armored shorelines break down over time, increasing erosion on adjacent shorelines, and negatively impacting plant abundance and diversity. An increasingly popular alternative for erosion control is living shorelines, which utilize natural plant communities to protect the shorelines of homes, parks, and other individual sites. Living shorelines provide habitats for recreationally and economically important species. Implicating effective methods to preserve and restore natural shorelines may lead to increased species diversity, improved water and sediment quality, and gain of public and private lands. This study tests whether living shoreline sites effectively stem shoreline erosion while being more ecologically similar to natural shoreline marsh sites than armored sites. Geospatial and plant community data were collected from restored, armored, and natural reference shorelines in the Galveston Bay system. Plant communities were examined by measuring: species diversity, percent coverage of each species, individual stem counts for each species, Spartina alterniflora biomass, and chlorophyll levels. Drones, equipped with natural color and color-infrared cameras, were used to capture low altitude aerial imagery at each site. This imagery was combined with GPS data to assess elevation and shoreline location at each site. This method is also being investigated as a means to provide low-cost seasonal data at each site, such as percent plant coverage and species composition. Results suggest plant communities are undergoing successional processes, approaching functions similar to native shoreline habitats, and are stabilizing erosion at living shorelines.
Poster Board STP.65

Restoring Piping Plover (Charadrius Melodus Melodus) Habitat using Living Shorelines and Nature-Based Solutions

Kirsten Ellis, CBWES Inc.

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Near Shippagan, New Brunswick, Canada, an exciting project is leveraging salt marsh creation and sand engine techniques to create and improve nesting habitat for the endangered Piping Plover. This project is the first sand engine in Atlantic Canada and the most northern created marsh with sill to date. The barrier spit, where the project is located, and its habitats have been altered and degraded by more than a century of human activity. In 2020, construction began on the sand engine which included the beneficial reuse of sediment dredged from the adjacent channel. The marsh and marsh sill are scheduled to be built in Fall 2022 using rock from seawalls that are being removed from the site and historic (1983) dredge material present on the site. The project also encompasses dune restoration, a fifteen year monitoring program, and five year scientific research program which includes two Masters and one PhD level research projects. Year 1 post-construction monitoring of the sand engine showed increases in beach elevation to elevations that are within the range of those seen at a nearby reference beach where Piping Plovers successfully nested in 2020 and 2021. Increased beach width and shoreward migration of the dune toe and dune vegetation were also observed. Year 2 and as-built monitoring of the sand engine and created marsh, respectively, is ongoing. This project is the result of a collaborative effort that includes federal and provincial government departments, private industry, academia, and environmental NGOs.
Poster Board STP.66

Jean Lafitte Shoreline Protection Project: Modifying Shoreline Energy Conditions to Restore Submerged Aquatic Vegetation

Thomas Cancienne, Stantec

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The Jean Lafitte (JELA) Shoreline project is an important project for Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico area as it is needed to protect, enhance, and restore the Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) within the Barataria Basin. SAV is an important component of the predominantly freshwater Lake Salvador and Cataouatche ecosystems. These estuarine lakes lie in the upper Barataria Basin of the Mississippi River’s coastal delta, and they border Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s Barataria Preserve on its west. SAV provides habitat and food for aquatic biota, and its productivity contributes to the robust fisheries in these deltaic coastal waters. SAV beds also attenuate storm energy and reduce erosive impacts on adjacent terrestrial wetlands. The intent of this “living shoreline” is to create a multi-layered system approach combining engineering design with ecological design criterial drivers. A successful living shoreline is one where the entire system is working together to reflect the natural ecosystem and match existing project conditions, through structures, nourishment, water quality, SAV habitat, alignment, orientation, and elevation. Engineering with nature provides the most robust and sustainable project for ecosystem protection.
Poster Board STP.67

Coastal Restoration Activities at MacDill Air Force Base

Tiffany Lane, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Coastal restoration projects at MacDill Air Force Base (MAFB), located in the Tampa Bay estuary system, have been implemented for several decades and range from the manipulation of current hydrology to reflect historic patterns to the removal of mosquito ditch spoil mounds and ditches. Restoration has focused on removing these spoil mounds to achieve two primary goals:  1. upland habitat (spoil mounds) restored back into mangroves and 2. reestablishing natural flow patterns. To remove the mounds, we use an innovative method called hydroblasting which utilizes pumps and high-pressure fire hoses to reduce the height of the mounds to foster mangrove recovery while preventing invasives from returning. Hydro-blasting equipment has a very low “footprint” verses heavy equipment within the mangrove forest. To date, the base has removed over 480 spoil mounds that has resulted in the restoration of 52 acres of mangrove forest. This poster will inform the group of these innovative restoration techniques and ongoing efforts to restore mangrove swamp and imperiled saltern communities and restore a historic hydrologic flow to Tampa Bay.
Poster Board STP.68

Application of a Novel Living Shoreline Model to Compute Ecosystem Restoration Benefits

Emma Dodsworth, Virginia Institute of Marine Science/ William & Mary

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Living shorelines are nature-based coastal adaptations, which have become important replacement habitats for natural marshes lost to sea level rise, erosion, and coastal development. Unlike hardened shorelines, these constructed habitats can leverage natural ecological processes to keep pace with rising sea levels, maintaining their benefits under climate change. This form of shoreline restoration provides watershed-scale benefits across natural and human communities, improving the ecosystem services of the shoreline. Living shorelines are approved as a best management practice (BMP) around the Chesapeake Bay watershed to reduce nutrient and sediment loads in an effort to restore the estuary. However, there are no tools available to compute site-specific nutrient and sediment removals for these restoration practices. Our research will create a widely applicable and directly accessible model for local stakeholders to assess nutrient and sediment removals from different living shoreline designs. This simulation model of living shorelines is being validated with seasonal observations from diverse living shorelines. Seasonal observations will be completed summer of 2022 and model development will start fall of 2022. The model will be used to compute nitrogen removals for representative sites in the lower Chesapeake Bay and will be provided online for stakeholders (restoration planners, resource managers, local government, etc.). Other educational materials (e.g., fact sheets, brochures, websites, videos) will be developed in collaboration with partners to facilitate the use of the model to promote multi-benefit shoreline restoration projects.
Poster Board STP.69

Preliminary Results from the Upper Galveston Bay Sustainable Oyster Reef Restoration Project: the Influence of ENSO on Monitoring Results and Project Performance

William Rodney, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

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The Upper Galveston Bay Sustainable Oyster Restoration Project is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Galveston Bay Foundation where partners restored ~25 acres of harvestable oyster reef and ~13 acres of “sanctuary” reef (protected from oyster harvest) in upper Galveston Bay, Texas. This creates a “source-sink” dynamic where the protected broodstock within the sanctuary reef (“source”) supply larvae to the harvestable (“sink”) reefs. Quarterly monitoring was conducted to assess restoration success and inform adaptive management and future design of other similar “landscape-scale approach” restoration projects. Monitoring results indicate that seasonality and salinity regime can impact short-term project success, but long-term success can be achieved as natural salinity and climatic cycles shift to favorable conditions. The project’s location experiences wide fluctuations in salinity driven by the ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation) cycle in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific. During El Niño periods, increased rainfall can depress salinity, while La Niña periods produce drought conditions causing salinity to increase. Construction of the reefs occurred in early 2021 during an El Niño period and the persistence of low salinity conditions in the area caused concern about the project’s success, as spat and oysters were absent from the restored reef. In 2022, a shift to La Niña conditions caused salinity to increase resulting in increased oyster and spat abundance on the restoration sites. No additional adaptive management strategies (e.g., additional cultch placement or seeding) were required to overcome short-term apparent failure; the reef naturally recruited oysters when conditions improved. Not only can the results of this study inform the timing of cultch placement for oyster restoration projects, but it also indicates that long-term monitoring may be required to adequately assess project success in areas with highly variable climatic and salinity regimes.
Poster Board STP.70

Shoreline Loss of Historical Importance: Using 210Pb and 137Cs to Calculate Sediment Accumulation

Sarah Ashley, University of North Carolina Wilmington

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The United States’ East Coast is at increasing risk of degradation and devastation as a result of factors associated with climate change. Common among these threats are rising relative sea level, nuisance flooding, and tropical cyclone storm events, augmented both in frequency and severity. Due to their position in the landscape, salt marshes are often the first area to be impacted by storms. Many salt marshes are considered ecotones, or, boundaries between two systems. Ecotones are transitional ecosystems, and typically appear wedged between a riverine or marine environment and a terrestrial ecosystem. Areas experiencing sea level rise alongside anthropogenic effects are at a greater risk for marsh erosion. As these marshes retreat laterally in response, the dynamics of the ecosystem effectively change. The retreating marsh becomes transgressive, encroaching into adjacent terrestrial ecosystems, which can cause significant impacts to agricultural or developed land and forests. Brunswick Town Fort Anderson is a local historic site bordering the Cape Fear River. The site is experiencing high rates of shoreline loss which is threatening the very survival of many historic artifacts and fortifications. This study examines the relationship between anthropogenic effects and paleotempestology and their combined effects on the marsh’s formation and the processes that drive its development. Specifically, how do the effects of paleotempestology and anthropogenic impacts affect sediment accumulation rates and the marsh’s ability to keep pace against rising sea level?
Poster Board STP.71

Documenting >40 Years of Benefits Derived from Nature-Based Wetland Creation Projects

Jacob Berkowitz, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center

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Dredged sediments are increasingly used to create and restore wetlands in support of the Engineering With Nature (EWN) initiative. However, few studies quantify long-term EWN outcomes. In response, we reconstructed >40-year-old studies at historic dredged sediment wetland creation sites. Results demonstrate that over decadal time periods wetland features designed using EWN principles (nature-based features, natural processes) provide a range of ecological functions (energy dissipation, nutrient cycling) and associated goods and services (flood risk reduction, improved water quality). Notably, beneficial ecosystem goods and services were coupled with ecological functions derived from physical (energy dissipation), biogeochemical (denitrification), and habitat processes which operate at varying timeframes and magnitudes. As a result, physically dominated ecological functions and associated goods and services are delivered more quickly (weeks to months) than those requiring establishment of plant communities (years to decades) and other biologically mediated processes. Additionally, success criteria should focus on measures of ecological function and avoid over-emphasizing inappropriate comparisons with un-altered, mature reference areas. Incorporating these considerations in an Engineering With Nature context delivers highly functional, sustainable, and persistent environmental and societal benefits when restoring and creating wetlands.
Poster Board STP.72

Created Wetlands for the Reduction of Organic Loading, a Case Study at Myrtle Grove, LA

Robert Lane, Comite Resources

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The CHS Inc. Grain Export Terminal in Myrle Grove, LA operates under various federal and state permits, one of which is a LDEQ Water Discharge Permit that allows the discharge of stormwater runoff from the facility into Bayou Dupont with a limit for TOC of 50 mg/L daily maximum, however, average TOC concentration was 83 mg/L in 2007-2008. In an effort to comply with the LDEQ Water Discharge Permit, Comite Resources designed and directed construction of two ~2-acre stormwater wetlands directly north and south of the facility in the winter of 2011-2012 for the purpose of reducing total organic carbon (TOC) concentrations of surface water flowing from the facility. During March 2012, approximately 800 bald cypress seedlings were planted in the two wetlands, and herbaceous species, such as cattail mixed with pickerelweed, smartweed, arrowhead, and bulltongue colonized the wetlands naturally. Alligators and a large population of whistling ducks, along with other wildlife are also currently using the wetlands. Water quality greatly improved, with a 70% decrease in TOC and an 89% decrease in TSS as stormwater flowed through the primary wetland to the north. Bald cypress trees grew rapidly, with a mean annual diameter growth increment of 2.2 cm/yr and a mean tree biomass at the end of the 10-year study of 182±11 kg/tree. The CHS facility has been in compliance with its LDEQ discharge permit since the stormwater wetlands were constructed.
Poster Board STP.73

Where Are We Now? Integrating Site-Specific Observations and Modeling to Manage a National Preserve in the Mississippi River Delta

Julie Whitbeck, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

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Located in a subsiding delta lobe of the Mississippi River, the Barataria Preserve protects 26,000 acres of primarily freshwater wetlands in the upper Barataria Basin. Its highest terrain is the natural levee ridges of two former Mississippi River distributaries, yet most of its landscape lies less than 0.5 m above sea level. Combined with modern era isolation from River sediment resources, natural subsidence and global sea level rise are causing rapid increases in flooding depth and duration across the Preserve landscape (approaching 1 cm per year). To inform effective stewardship of natural and cultural resources and to guide fiscally-responsible planning and management of Preserve infrastructure over the next 50 years, the park commissioned a future conditions modeling project to forecast surface elevation, flooding extent, salinity and vegetative cover under a suite of 12 different climate and coastal management scenarios. With model projections in hand, now the park wishes to link actual observations of changing conditions with model output to evaluate which model scenario best represents realized change and to document landscape transformation as it occurs. We are developing a rudimentary spatial database that will enable park managers to visualize and compare actual observations and model-projected values of salinity, water depth, surface elevation and vegetation type at locations across the Preserve landscape, including the areas of most intensive infrastructure development and public use. Here we describe our tool and we illustrate its use with model projections and salinity observations from long-term water quality monitoring. We also highlight gaps between our idealized vision of this management-informing tool and what we have developed, and we identify a few challenges of delivering management-relevant scientific information to non-experts whose decisions are subject to public scrutiny.
Poster Board STP.74

Development and Deployment of a Long-Term Benthic Oxygen Flux System

Jeff Coogan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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Measuring long-term oxygen production and respiration rates for seagrasses has long been limited to a few sample points across the seasonal scale. These methods can be very labor intensive and subjected to uncertainty associated with short term variability over the measurement intervals. To better understand this variability, we built and deployed a long-term benthic oxygen flux system. The system consists of a fixed bottom lander that measured the oxygen eddy covariance and a surface buoy that transmits real time data and power. The system was deployed in Massachusetts in an Eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadow and collected continuous benthic oxygen flux data from May 2021 to October 2021. Ongoing analysis shows a range of seasonal changes and variability over short-term events. Accompanying measurements of photosynthetically active radiation and above ground biomass allow for a more detailed analysis of changes in water temperature, morphology, hydrodynamics and the associated changes in light use efficiency. Several technical challenges were also encountered during the deployment and provided an opportunity to advance the reliability of this system for long-term seasonal deployments.
Poster Board STP.75

The Adaptation of the Ecodisk to Maximize Wave Attenuation & Ecological Benefits

Phillip Todd, Atlantic Reefmaker

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The need for coastal resilience in relation to storms and sea level rise continues to be a national priority. Adaptation and refinement of best management practices are keys to improving sustainability and achieving long-term project success, and in many cases a product’s, success. Several clients chose to install Atlantic Reefmaker with its many natural and nature-based characteristics to achieve their project’s goals related to wave attenuation and habitat enhancement/restoration? within minimal footprint. With each new project, design consultants and staff have worked to adapt the ecodisks to achieve our client’s varied goals and objectives. The first challenge came with the Bonner Bridge Seagrass Mitigation Project. The Reefmaker technology was selected to attenuate wave energy and thereby promote seagrass coalescence in the high energy wave environment of Pamlico Sound, North Carolina to achieve a compensatory seagrass mitigation requirement. Construction of the mitigation project was completed in January 2017 utilizing 101 fiberglass piles with square-shaped ecodisks, which had 20% porosity, which was the original design. This innovative project was included in An Atlas: Volume 2, a publication of the Corps Engineering with Nature® program. Since the Bonner Bridge Seagrass Mitigation project, Atlantic Reefmaker has adapted the ecodisks in shape, size, texture, and porosity to increase wave attenuation, reduce materials cost and promote biological colonization. The ecodisks have been scaled to low as well as high energy environments. Octagonal-shaped, textured ecodisks with 0% porosity have also been deployed. Maybe mention another project example here which used a different version of the units.
Poster Board STP.76

Application of Unmanned Aerial Systems and Imagery Analysis in Classifying Coastal Marsh Vegetation and Habitat

Seth Chapman, Louisiana State University Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences

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Louisiana’s coastal marshes have experienced widespread decline over the last century and government agencies have worked to offset land loss through marsh creation projects. However, standardized post-construction assessment of created marshes requires considerable cost, time, and logistical effort. The aerial imagery collected using Unmanned Aerial Systems have the potential to complement standard monitoring by reducing logistical costs and increasing the spatial scale of post-construction assessments. To explore this possibility, we are using in-situ vegetation sampling to calibrate and validate multi-spectral imagery and compare vegetation communities among created and reference brackish marshes in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. In May 2022, we conducted quadrat vegetation sampling and collected multi-spectral imagery from two created marshes and three reference marshes. The quadrat data from these sites will be used to calibrate a vegetation and habitat classification algorithm on selected imagery tiles from the five study areas. The classification algorithm will then be validated against the whole-site imagery, resulting in high resolution vegetation and habitat classification maps that will be used to compare vegetation communities among created and reference marshes. In addition, the created algorithm will have the potential to be applied to other brackish marsh vegetation analyses in the future to benefit post-construction monitoring.
Poster Board STP.77

Using a UAV to Monitor Short-term Geomorphological Changes on Crab Bank, a Restored Shorebird Nesting Sanctuary in the Charleston Harbor Estuary

Gary Sundin, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

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Crab Bank is a dredge spoil island in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, USA that historically served as an important shorebird nesting sanctuary. The island was subject to erosion over the course of several decades, losing all available high-ground nesting habitat by 2017. To re-create this habitat, the island was re-built in November 2021 using dredged material from the Charleston Harbor. Between December 2021 and September 2022, Crab Bank was mapped seven times with a small, unoccupied aerial vehicle (UAV) to create high-resolution imagery and elevation products. A survey-grade global navigation satellite system (GNSS) was used to improve the accuracy of the mapping efforts. GIS analyses were then used to measure changes in both the shoreline position and the surface elevation of the island during this period. Monitoring flights revealed a high-ground footprint of approximately 15 hectares, with elevations ranging from 1.5 to 2.4 meters above mean higher high water (MHHW). During the monitoring period, elevation changes within the high-ground footprint were generally minor (i.e., < 0.2 meters in all areas). No significant gains or losses in the total area of high-ground were observed. Changes to shoreline morphology were minor and consisted primarily of a re-working of the southwestern border of the island within the intertidal zone. Shorebird nesting on the new habitat was observed throughout the nesting season. These early monitoring efforts showcase short-term geomorphological changes to a newly created shorebird sanctuary in an urban estuary. Preliminary findings demonstrate that the habitat is suitable for shorebird nesting and that the island is an important addition to the limited total footprint of such sanctuaries in coastal South Carolina. Findings further suggest that this habitat is reasonably likely to persist for periods sufficient to promote beneficial population-level impacts to South Carolina shorebirds.
Poster Board STP.78

Twenty Years of Data and Counting: NCEI’s Hypoxia Watch as a Tool for Near-Real Time Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Event

Courtney Bouchard, NOAA/NCEI

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The Gulf Coast is host to more than half of the nation’s wetland area and the ecosystem services it provides are important economically and socioeconomically to the nation. As many Gulf Coast researchers and resource managers are already familiar, a large low dissolved oxygen (DO) event occurs within the northern Gulf of Mexico. This hypoxic event (DO < 2 mg/l), also known as the “dead zone”, occurs seasonally with varying size every year depending on several environmental factors. When DO levels get below 2 mg/L it can quickly devastate aquatic ecosystems and drive fish, invertebrates, and mammals away affecting the fisheries in the area. There are many working on monitoring and reducing these events. NOAA National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) Hypoxia Watch’s mission is to monitor DO levels in near-real time with our partners at NOAA Fisheries and the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program’s (SEAMAP) during the yearly Summer Groundfish Surveys. For this effort, scientists aboard the NOAA Ship Oregon II process the measurements from dissolved oxygen sensors attached to the CTD and send them electronically to NCEI. Then NCEI staff transform the bottom DO measurements into maps that identify areas of hypoxia. New maps are published on the Hypoxia Watch web map viewer regularly while the cruises are underway to help scientists understand the development and progression of the hypoxic event. After 20 years of data collection, the team at Hypoxia Watch is updating the product to include more historical datasets alongside the near-real time monitoring efforts. NCEI staff collaborates with federal agencies, state agencies, and universities, therefore input from our stakeholders is important to make sure that NCEI is getting this data to the public in the most effective way
Poster Board STP.79

Full-Capture Devices for Plastic Pellets (Nurdles)

Henry Hunt, Roscoe Moss Company

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Plastic pellets (nurdles) released from plastic production, storage, transportation and manufacturing facilities are light, floatable and can be transported easily by wind, stormwater or other means. These pellets flow into public waters and become damaging to wildlife, fish and aquatic organisms, adversely impacting the environment, most notably in estuarine settings. A passive-screen full-capture device has been employed to capture pellets from industrial facilities and prevent them from being part of the hydrologic cycle. These devices have been used for twenty years for the capture of litter, trash, organics and other debris carried with stormwater across the United States and recent focus on mitigating impacts due to pellets released from industrial sites have identified additional applications for this device. Modifications allow sizing the screen (slot) openings to match the dimensions of target debris (pellets) for full capture of pellets from industrial drains, while minimizing impacts on stormwater flows. The devices are simple, robust and require very low O&M. The poster will illustrate its’ application to coastal environments, especially Americas’ Gulf Coast where the concentration of plastics industries in these regions that drain to the Gulf have experienced recurring impacts. Of course, this device is applicable to all estuarine regions where public waters discharge to oceans and to any sites that discharge to surface waters that drain to coastal areas. The information will be helpful to regulators, plastics-related industries, state and local agencies and organizations and to local communities interested in managing plastic waste within their jurisdiction. Example installations in coastal settings will be presented as will general design criteria for evaluating feasibility and sizing the capture system.
Poster Board STP.80

2021 Peconic Estuary Annual Water Quality Report; Are We Meeting Our Goals for a Healthy Estuary?

Sara Cernadas-Martin, Peconic Estuary Partnership

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The Peconic Estuary, the expansive network of bays and waterways located in the east end of Long Island (NY), represents the geographic, ecological and cultural heart of the region. Poor water quality is tied to our actions on land. In the Peconic Estuary, our primary pollution source comes from the movement of water through the ground (groundwater) and over the land surface (stormwater runoff) - this water picks up natural and human-made pollutants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, motor oil, and human and animal waste, and eventually ends up in lakes, rivers, wetlands, and coastal waters. This is known as non-point source pollution, and the two biggest sources in the Peconic Estuary are wastewater from residential on-site septic systems and cesspools, and fertilizers (nutrient pollution). As a National Estuary Program, the Peconic Estuary Partnership (PEP) acts as a bridge at the boundary between science and policy, and ensures that an informed citizenry, along with all other stakeholders, have a voice in the decision-making process. In 2020, PEP developed a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) that identifies four long-term goals: Strong Partnerships, Resilient Communities, Clean Water, and a Healthy Ecosystem. This 2021 Peconic Estuary Annual Water Quality Report tracks whether we are meeting our identified water quality targets to achieve our objectives for Peconic Estuary waters. Clean water supports fish, shellfish, and wildlife ecosystem health, provides for safe recreation in and on the water, and seafood that is safe for consumption. This Report will enable PEP to track progress on meeting our CCMP goals for Resilient Communities Prepared for Climate Change, Clean Waters for Ecosystem Health and Safe Recreation, and Healthy Ecosystem with Abundant, Diverse Wildlife over the next decade.
Poster Board STP.81

Moving Water to Restore Rivers Wetlands and Estuaries in Central and Southwest Florida

Nicole Iadevaia, Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP)

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National Estuary Programs work regionally and are uniquely positioned as a collaborative of governmental, non-profit, and community partners could step in to fill research gaps, taking the lead on to engage in regional issues and further climate readiness in forward-looking regional research and restoration. The Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP) identified hydrological restoration as a key issue for Central and Southwest Florida given the unique hydrogeology of the region. However, significant challenges remain to reverse damage from development and balance limited water resources between people and natural ecosystems. CHNEP worked to create a number of watershed management plans with the goal to ‘get the water right’, identifying what needs to happen to restore and maintain our water supply, flood protection, water quality and water-dependent resources in the face of existing degradation and depletion, climate change factors, and continued regional growth. In order to build these plans, all available data was gathered and used to develop and refine integrated surface and groundwater hydrological models to simulate the water cycle in the natural environment, identifying how changes to the landscape and environmental conditions will impact where surface and groundwater will move in response. Climate change related impacts such as reductions in freshwater flows, alterations in rainfall patterns, changes to wetland hydroperiods, evapotranspiration and sea level rise were also accounted for. Due to the large scale, complexity, and cost of implementing the plans, most are need a multi-partner, multi-phase, and multi-year approach. The CHNEP supports continued effective coordination between agencies that manage water as well as and local, state, and federal government permitting and capital programs affecting hydrologic flow, water storage, flood control, and water quality. By focusing attention and resources on a landscape-level strategy, restoration projects can yield greater cost-benefits.
Poster Board STP.82

Ida's Lasting Impact: The Barataria Preserve's Immobilized Salinity

Aaron Gondran, National Park Service

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The Barataria Preserve of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve protects 26,000 acres of freshwater deltaic wetlands in the Mississippi River delta’s Barataria Basin, which are among the most biologically productive ecosystems in North America. Hurricane Ida’s late-August landfall completely submerged the Preserve in saltwater. High concentrations of salt are toxic to native vegetation, can alter ecosystem properties, and can lead to a decline in biodiversity. Several months after Ida we continue to observe elevated salinity levels across the Barataria Preserve landscape. Our water quality measurements show abnormally high salinity compared to previous post-storm surge periods. At most sites, our data illustrate a drastic increase in salinity right after the storm, an ephemeral decrease after a September rain event, and increasing salinity thereafter well into the 2022 growing season. We evaluate data from our monthly discrete sampling at 14 near-trail waterway channel and wetland sites that capture the Preserve’s topographic and hydrologic variation, and we reference others’ observations collected in and adjacent to the Preserve. The La Nina weather pattern may be responsible for the high salinity of the Preserve by causing dry conditions from a low precipitation rate. In this presentation we explore how La Nina has shaped the patterns of post-Ida salinity across the Preserve into the next growing season. Monitoring water quality attributes across the Preserve over time helps park managers track changing conditions and better understand linked outcomes for biota and ecosystems. These post-Ida La Nina phase observations offer insight into how this freshwater wetland landscape may change under the predicted increased frequency of strong tropical storms, some of which will be followed by La Nina phases of global circulation.
Poster Board STP.83

Effects of Drought, Pulsed Freshwater Inflows and Nutrients Imported from the Gulf of Mexico on Primary Production and Water Quality in the Mission-Aransas Estuary

Edward Buskey, University of Texas Marine Science Institute

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The Mission-Aransas Estuary is in an arid region of South Texas with limited rainfall. The low freshwater inflows can be occasionally replaced with short duration, large freshwater pulses due to storm events that can deliver up to half of annual inputs of new nutrients from the rivers. Low freshwater input, small tidal range and a nearly continuous barrier island separating the estuary from the Gulf of Mexico result in a typical water replacement time of about one year. Five monitoring stations collect water quality data at 15-minute intervals, and nutrient and plankton samples have been collected monthly over the past 14 years. These data reveal the impacts of extended periods of drought punctuated by major inflows of freshwater to the estuary on nutrient concentrations, phytoplankton biomass, primary production and net ecosystem metabolism. Short term changes in nutrient concentration and phytoplankton biomass can be seen in response to intense inflow events, but seasonal patterns of primary production are similar during periods of drought and high salinities compared to periods following higher freshwater inflows, nutrient loading and lower salinities. There is a shift to a net heterotrophic system following major inflow events that import large amounts of terrestrial organic matter, compared to a more balanced system during periods of low freshwater inflow. Nutrient concentrations in near shore waters along the Texas Coast are typically higher than those found within the Mission-Aransas Estuary due to high nutrient inputs from the Mississippi River. Sampling at 2-hour intervals in the channel between the Gulf of Mexico and the estuary show that on high tides nutrients are imported from the Gulf into the estuary. The estuary maintains high productivity with efficient nutrient recycling in this shallow, warm water system supplemented by nutrients from near shore Gulf waters and episodic inputs of nutrients from freshwater inflows.
Poster Board STP.84

Ribbed Mussels Enhance Pelagic-To-Benthic Transports of Marine-Derived Nitrogen through Faunal Engineering

Sydney Williams, University of Florida

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The increasingly pervasive issue of coastal eutrophication has sparked widespread interest in leveraging bivalves as bioremediation tools against excessive nitrogen loading in estuaries. Ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa) facilitate pelagic-to-benthic transport of organic N through suspension-feeding and biodeposition and subsequently enhance N availability for uptake, burial, and removal in salt marsh systems. Source tracing of this organic N may be informative and applicable to nutrient management decisions but has received little attention. Here, we quantified the effect of mussels on the composition (marsh- and marine-derived sources) and biomass of organic N conveyed from the overlying tide water to the sediment surface in a Georgia salt marsh. We measured C and N stable isotope signatures and N biomass of particulate organic matter (POM) available in the water column, actively conveyed by mussels, and passively transported in the absence of mussels (smooth cordgrass only) during a spring high tide. By building our stable isotope data into Bayesian mixing model frameworks (MixSIAR), we found that, when compared to material transported in cordgrass only areas, mussel biodeposits had higher proportions of marine-derived (pelagic phytoplankton) OM and were more similar to water column POM. We then multiplied MixSIAR source proportions by N biomass values and determined that mussel presence enhanced the pelagic-to-benthic transport of both marine-derived and marsh-derived (cordgrass detritus and benthic microalgae) organic N by over an order of magnitude. Our findings demonstrate that this faunal engineer plays a significant role in both the importation and recycling of organic N in salt marsh systems and deserves more consideration and inclusion in nutrient management efforts.
Poster Board STP.85

Developing Techniques for Long Term Chlorophyll a Monitoring in Estuarine Systems

Emalee Swisshelm, University of New Orleans

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Chlorophyll a, an indicator of eutrophication and the presence of potentially harmful algal blooms, can provide key insight into the health of a water system and provide information on best management practices. The measurement of chlorophyll a through pigment extraction methods is a key component of the National Estuarine Research Reserve’s (NERR) System-Wide Monitoring Program. However, the collection and analytical process of this method can be time consuming and the ability to collect data at 15-minute intervals using a data sonde in the field would provide key insights into the primary production of these dynamic environments. Sensor technology has been developed, but it is important to consider environmental factors, such as temperature, turbidity, and fluorescent dissolved organic matter, as they can highly influence the readings when measuring in situ chlorophyll a fluorescence. NERR staff nationwide are developing empirical relationships for individual long-term monitoring stations so that in situ chlorophyll data can be interpreted in the context of historical and concurrent extracted chlorophyll data. During June 2022, for a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates internship, extraction and in situ methods were compared at two environmentally variable stations in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas NERR. A positive relationship between extracted and in situ chlorophyll measurements was present at both stations, but each relationship was impacted by different environmental factors. Due to the short duration of this study, more comparisons are needed to capture natural ranges of rainfall, organic matter, and temperature variations in the estuary.
Poster Board STP.86

Do Prescribed Burns Yield Enhanced Carbon Storage in Salt Marshes? A Comparative Assessment in Delaware Salt Marshes with Varied Burn Histories

Christopher Kelly, School of Marine Science and Policy, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, University of Delaware

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Prescribed burns are a common management practice within the state of Delaware as well as across the US. In salt marsh environments, these burns are employed to remove invasive Phragmites australis and restore native vegetation. A byproduct of these burns is a layer of biochar that remains in the sediment. This layer of biochar, or black carbon, is presumed to be refractory, staying within the sediment on decadal to millennial timescales. Biochars have also been shown to act as a sorbent retaining nutrients, pollutants, and organic molecules. It follows that an important question with regard to prescribed burns used to manage salt marshes is whether these biochar inputs impart biogeochemical ecosystem services in the form of blue carbon and nutrient storage in soils with benefits for the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduced nutrient loads to adjacent water bodies. With this project we address this question by examining 3 marsh tracts in Delaware with varying burn histories: Rocks Tract (no recent burn, burn planned for 2022), Roberts Farm (burned repeatedly over the last 5 years), and St Jones Reserve (no burn history or plans). Rocks Tract and Roberts Farm are located adjacent to each other and experience similar hydrology and environmental conditions making their burn histories the primary variable. The St Jones Reserve represents a nearby control site with no burn history. Ten 15 cm cores were collected from each site then sectioned into three, 5 cm sections and analyzed for carbon, black carbon, and nitrogen contents. The carbon, black carbon, and nitrogen compositions will be compared across areas of differing burn history taking marsh spatial dynamics into account. Increased carbon, black carbon, and nitrogen in burned versus unburned marsh regions are expected to provide evidence for biogeochemical ecosystem services from prescribed burns.
Poster Board STP.87

Air-Water Gas Exchange Over Temperate Seagrass Meadows

Kayleigh Granville, University of Virginia

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Blue carbon ecosystems such as seagrass meadows are widely regarded as carbon sinks. However, carbon storage in these ecosystems can be partially offset by emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Although the importance of measuring these fluxes is widely recognized, there is a lack of reliable flux data, especially in seagrass meadows. Existing fluxes are often uncertain due to internal site variability, low sampling frequencies, and methodological limitations. More local and regional CO2, CH4, and N2O flux measurements are needed to constrain variability and identify diurnal and seasonal patterns. In this study, we derived mid-summer greenhouse gas fluxes over a temperate seagrass meadow (South Bay, Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research site). To address potential methodological limitations, we measured wind speed, a variable commonly used to estimate air-water gas fluxes, on site. We compared on-site wind speeds to wind data collected at a regional NOAA station. Differences between on-site wind speed and regional wind speed show the importance of collecting in situ data. The time series of CO2 and CH4 fluxes derived from the on-site data reveals diurnal patterns and the effect of a storm event. Overall, the high temporal resolution applied in this study captured the internal variability at our site, and demonstrates the importance of measuring greenhouse gas fluxes in blue carbon ecosystems on a local scale.
Poster Board STP.89

Louisiana Coastwide Avian Restoration, Monitoring and Adaptive Management

Jon Wiebe, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

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Significant avian impacts were documented in association with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The State of Louisiana in concert with natural resource partners (local, regional, national) continues to design and implement representative restoration projects that are intended to directly benefit these impacted species. In tandem, significant efforts continue towards informing future project design and construction processes, individual project and coastwide performance monitoring as well as adaptive management.
Poster Board STP.90

Mitigating the Effects of a Large River Diversion on Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops Truncatus) using Ridge Restoration: Barataria Basin, Louisiana, USA

Denise Reed, University of New Orleans

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Coastal land loss in Louisiana is driven by natural and anthropogenic factors including the disconnection of coastal wetlands from the riverine inputs of sediment, nutrient, and freshwater.. This is particularly true for Barataria Basin where the estuary has been isolated from the Mississippi River by a flood protection levee system. A proposed diversion is designed to deliver sediment and freshwater to the basin to ameliorate land loss, which will also alter the salinity distribution and impact the local population of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). To potentially mitigate these effects, this study examined the efficacy of ridge restoration to maintain areas of suitable habitat for these marine mammals. This study uses a three-dimensional Delft3D model to perform detailed salinity analysis for Barataria Bay. The model is used to assess the benefits of various ridge configurations to create or improve suitable salinities for the dolphins in conjunction with diversion operation. The analysis was performed with wet and average Mississippi River hydrographs and for conditions representing 10 and 30 years into the future to capture the effects of sea level rise and subsidence. The analysis shows that certain ridge alignments could potentially provide a suitable habitat for bottlenose dolphins without detracting from the primary land-building objective of the sediment diversions, though further analysis is needed.
Poster Board STP.91

Implementation and Preliminary Monitoring of the Truro-Onslow Dyke Realignment and Tidal Wetland Restoration Project.

Jennie Graham, CBWES Inc.

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Coastal ecosystems are shaped by ecomorphodynamic processes that help them to protect the mainland against erosion and flooding while providing habitat for species of conservation and/or commercial value. However, climate change and habitat loss threaten these ecosystems and their functionality. “Building with Nature” solutions, including sand engines and marsh sills with living shorelines, can restore coastal ecosystems, but neither has been trialed in areas subject to harsh winter conditions. A Piping Plover habitat compensation project currently underway at a barrier spit near Shippagan, New Brunswick is piloting both techniques in Atlantic Canada, with the intent of restoring degraded sandy beach, sand dune, and salt marsh habitats. My research seeks to address knowledge gaps surrounding a) whether these restoration techniques can be used in cold climate regions and their ecomorphodynamic and ecological impacts, and b) whether habitats restored using these techniques are ecologically comparable to their natural counterparts. A longitudinal study will analyse how restored habitats change seasonally and over time, while two comparative studies will assess how the restored beach-dune system and the restored marsh compare with nearby naturally-occurring ones. Geospatial, environmental, and ecological data, collected seasonally, will be examined through an ecological integrity lens: Analyses of biodiversity, geomorphology, and food web dynamics will be used to assess the composition, structure, and function, respectively, of the restored habitats. These results will improve our understanding of how restoration methods influence barrier spit ecosystems in cold climates, and how cold climates influence restoration outcomes.
Poster Board STP.92

Understanding the Effects of Managed Realignment on Ecosystem Recovery and Nature-Based Climate Adaptation Functions of Tidal Wetlands in the Bay of Fundy, Canada

Kailey Nichols, Saint Mary's University & CBWES Inc.

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Traditional forms of coastal defense infrastructure are not going to be sufficient to combat the challenges that arise from climate change. As society continues to recognize that the traditional “hold-the-line” approach for coastal protection is no longer a viable option, managed (dyke) realignment (MR) has been shown to render a more dynamic solution to reduce coastal risks including storm surges, erosion, and flooding events, while also creating or improving ecosystem services. This research aims to determine the impact of incrementally increasing MR schemes on estuarine morphodynamics and restoration trajectories by assessing key parameters such as hydrology, sediment, and vegetation in the Converse Marsh, located on the Chignecto Isthmus in Nova Scotia, Canada. Specifically, this research will assess the influence of sediment deposition and hydrodynamics on vegetation colonization on different spatial and temporal scales using UAV surveys, geomatics, and field surveys. Although realignment techniques are relatively well understood, the response of our hypertidal coastal systems within the Bay of Fundy to MR schemes are underrepresented in the literature. By studying the efficacy of nature-based solutions and the trajectory of these approaches, namely managed realignment, there is a greater capacity to limit current and future risks associated with climate change and to implement these innovative designs on a larger scale.
Poster Board STP.93

Understanding Parameters for Site Characterization and their Influence on Restoration Trajectory in Tidal Marshes in Nova Scotia, Canada

Kayla Williams, Saint Mary's University & CBWES Inc.

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Low-lying coastal ecosystems, such as tidal wetlands, are vulnerable to degradation or loss due to climate change and anthropogenic influences. Accelerated changes in vegetation distribution and pattern, vertical accretion, and erosion along the marsh edge have called into question the sustainability of these ecosystems into the future. There are few remaining untouched, natural tidal marshes in Nova Scotia therefore, ecosystem restoration has been a popular avenue for rehabilitating vulnerable marshes. Recent studies have attempted to characterize tidal marshes based on their conditions from measured variables rather than simply ‘restored’ versus ‘natural’ tidal marshes. Further, there is a research gap surrounding the trajectory of restoring tidal marshes in Nova Scotia and whether site pre-conditions impact the restoration trajectory. We are investigating the characterization and trajectory of restoring and natural tidal marshes within Nova Scotia. We are assessing site similarities and differences based on abiotic variables, taking into consideration geomorphology, hydrology, sedimentation, elevation, vegetation, and carbon sequestration. We are exploring trajectory following characterization of natural and restoring marshes, considering site pre-conditions for restored marshes. We intend to analyze previously collected data in addition to re-measuring parameters between 2021-2022 as a present day baseline. Parameters to be measured include Rod Surface Elevation Tables (RSETs), marker horizons (MH), sediment cores, and vegetation surveys. Our characterization and restoration trajectory data for Nova Scotia will allow for a better understanding of how each variable impacts marsh health and contribute to the improvement of restoration techniques and post-restoration monitoring activities.
Poster Board STP.94

Making Room for Wetlands: Implementation of Managed Realignment & Salt Marsh Restoration to Enhance Resilience of Dykeland Communities to Climate Change in the Bay of Fundy, Canada

Tony Bowron, CBWES Inc.

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Globally, the practice of re-introducing, where feasible, tidal flow to former agricultural dykelands and the restoration of tidal wetland habitat, has been identified as a viable adaptation method to current and future hazards associated with climate change. While previous efforts to restore coastal wetlands in Atlantic Canada focused primarily on the restoration of resilient and self-sufficient habitats, the increasingly tangible impacts of climate change combined with changing economic landscapes, regulations, and land use practices have shifted and broadened the objectives of these projects. With limited resources available, guidance is required to determine where and how dykes should be re-aligned to optimize ecosystem services, maximize adaptation benefits, minimize economic costs and maintain fertile agricultural land and social, cultural and historic activities. The Making Room for Wetlands project is building resilience to climate change impacts of dykelands in the Bay of Fundy, Canada by demonstrating the successful of implementation of managed dyke realignment and the restoration of salt marsh habitat. Demonstration sites were selected in collaboration with the Provincial body responsible for dyke maintenance, after a comprehensive dyke vulnerability assessment and builds upon over two decades of collaboration and experience in tidal wetland restoration. The design, implementation and monitored of the restoration trajectory of the sites will be presented. Focus will be on the influence of sediment supply, tidal range, restoration design and seasonal timing of re-introduction of tidal flow on the rate of vegetation recolonization and implications for long term resilience.
Poster Board STP.95

Building Elevation in Mangrove Communities: Use of Regional Sediment Management to Increase Coastal Wetland Resilience to Sea Level Rise.

Gina Paduano Ralph, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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Sea-level rise (SLR) is expected to affect natural and urban areas by shifting habitats and inundating coastal developments in South Florida. Given this challenge of SLR, building resiliency within South Florida’s natural communities is imperative, not only to protect an abundance of fish and wildlife species, including important recreational and commercial fisheries, but also as a means of protecting the built environment from adverse effects associated with coastal storm surge and saltwater intrusion. For coastal wetlands to exist into the future, soil accretion must match or outpace SLR. Beneficial uses of dredged material such as thin layer placement (TLP) will build landscape resiliency by building soil elevation and improve soil aeration in the root zone. This proof of concept physical model will evaluate the ability of TLP to increase elevation and enhance net primary productivity within coastal wetlands of Miami-Dade County, Florida most vulnerable to SLR. Varying depths of beneficial-use materials will be placed at selected sites to identify 1) whether TLP is a viable option to build elevation to increase the adaptive capacity of coastal wetlands to SLR, and 2) whether TLP can also promote internal mechanisms of peat accretion (i.e., root growth and carbon sequestration) within coastal wetlands, including mangrove communities. The results of this proposal will also inform and direct management measure development for the ongoing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Biscayne Bay Southeastern Everglades Restoration Project, the only coastal component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. However, results from this proposal are applicable to areas throughout the Gulf, Atlantic, and Pacific Coasts of the United States where direct preservation, enhancement, and restoration of mangrove and other vegetative communities, will build coastal resiliency, reduce storm surge damage, and create habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species.
Poster Board STP.96

Foundational Dune Grass Growth Is Enhanced by Atlantic Ghost Crabs (Ocypode Quadrata)

Joseph Morton, University of Florida

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Coastal dune ecosystems and the myriad of ecosystem services they provide are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic stressors. The loss of dunes has underscored the importance of rapid and effective dune restoration to enhance coastal resilience. Harnessing positive species interactions that enhance vegetative growth and dune accretion is one way to enhance dune restoration success at little to no added cost. Previous research has indicated the importance of inter- and intraspecific facilitation between dune plants, however, comparatively little research has focused on facilitation by animals in coastal dunes. Here, we examined whether a common dune bioturbator, the Atlantic ghost crab (Ocypode Quadrata), could facilitate the growth of coastal dune vegetation.A field manipulation of ghost crab abundance on a restored dune showed that aboveground production of outplanted sea oats (Uniola paniculata) increased with increasing crab burrow area. Additionally, a survey of 8 coastal dune sites in the southeastern US revealed positive correlations between burrow area and the heights of adjacent dune grasses. Taken together, these results underscore the importance of considering positive species interactions in dune restoration praxis.
Poster Board STP.97

Storm Influence on Soil Properties of a Saltmarsh in Barataria Basin, LA

Matthew Parker, Louisiana State University

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The frequency of major storms along Louisiana’s coast will rise with a changing climate. Saltmarshes that constitute these areas possess a mixture of organic and inorganic soil layers that help combat erosion during storm influence. Inundation from major storms could potentially alter soil composition which will affect the future resiliency of these saltmarshes. This study aims to compare the soil properties of the edge and interior of a marsh that experience different tidal inundations. A saltmarsh at the Barataria Basin, LA, was selected due to its proximity to a Louisiana’s Coastwide Reference Monitoring System site where data on vegetation, hydrology, elevation change have been collected for the last 10 years. Three 90 cm sediment cores each were collected at both the edge and interior of the saltmarsh in summer 2022. Bulk density, organic matter, and sediment accretion rate will be analyzed using loss on ignition and 137Cs gamma dating. Our preliminary results showed that shallower layers (<50 cm) had higher bulk density and lower organic matter when compared with deeper layers. A spike in bulk density at the top of the soil profile shows influence from a recent major hurricane, Ida which made landfall on August 29, 2021. Data collected for this study could provide valuable information for coastal restoration and management projects along the Gulf Coast.
Poster Board STP.98

Belle Isle Marsh: Assessing the Climate Vulnerability Potential Adaptation of Boston's Largest Salt Marsh

Grace Medley, Woods Hole Group

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Belle Isle Marsh, designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, is the largest remaining saltmarsh in Boston Harbor. It serves as buffer against coastal storms, critical habitat for nesting birds, and recreational space for surrounding communities. Adjacent to three major cities, the marsh is under a series of stressors, ranging from anthropogenic influence to rise in local sea level and coastal storms. Wetland filling, berm construction, mosquito ditching, stormwater outfalls, coastal squeeze, and other factors are impacting the natural function of the marsh. These stressors have resulted in marsh degradation over time. The goal of this project is to protect and enhance the natural resources now and into the future, and combines an ecosystem management approach with coastal community flood resiliency. The EFDC hydrodynamic model was configured for Belle Isle Marsh and run for a series of daily and future SLR conditions, using indicators such as temperature, salinity, and residence time to assess the health of the saltmarsh. The SLAMM model was run to describe changes to the marsh habitat from present day to 2100. The results found Belle Isle Marsh habitat to be projected to convert to greater open water area, with losses of high marsh habitat. Under high sea level rise scenarios, the marsh is anticipated to predominantly convert to mudflat, while developed areas prohibit inland migration of marsh habitat. Through revealing which habitats are most vulnerable, the team established restoration values, goals, and alternatives, to enhance marsh health and bring co-benefits to surrounding communities. Adaptive management scenarios were selected to model present and future conditions, including enhanced tidal exchange and drainage, water level control measures, and thin layer deposition. Adaptation recommendations are compiled into a management plan, merging the science, and needs of stakeholders and residents to inform long-term management of this critical habitat.
Poster Board STP.99

Design of Marsh Rim Buffer at Black Bay in St. Bernard Parish

Matt Salmon, Freese and Nichols

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Black Bay Ridge is a project led by St. Bernard Parish Government. The Project has been submitted for inclusion in the 2023 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan and received positive feedback from Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. It is uniquely located at the southern edge of St. Bernard Parish between Chandeleur Islands and the future Mid-Breton Diversion. The location was strategically selected to provide another layer of risk reduction for a Parish coastal system that provides multiple lines of storm surge defense. The Project will provide immediate and much needed protection for southern St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish by absorbing wind and wave energy from the Gulf of Mexico and serving as a barrier to prevent further saltwater intrusion into the area. The Breton Sound Basin has experienced substantial land loss because of factors such as hurricanes and the loss of oyster reefs. This wetland area serves an important role as a buffer between storm surge in the Gulf and populated areas of St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans. Additionally, the coastal marshes of St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish provide critical habitat for wildlife and enormous financial benefits to the region in the form of recreational and commercial fisheries. The Project will be approximately 8 miles long and create 1,050 acres of back barrier marsh, 105 acres of upland ridge, and 631 acres of ridge foundation. Project design considerations include construction of a marsh and ridge on soft sediments, a dredge delivery pipeline of approximately 20 miles, and circulation and morphology modeling. Modeling analyzed Project effects on the area’s salinity regime, potential wave attenuation benefits, and suitability to enhance oyster habitat.
Poster Board STP.100

Poplar Island and Sabine National Wildlife Refuge as Case Studies for Marsh Restoration Trajectories

Safra Altman, USACE Engineer Research and Development Center

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The loss of coastal wetlands due to climate change, changes in sediment supply due to human activity, among other factors has led to a surge of wetland creation projects utilizing dredged material. Understanding the restoration trajectories of these sites can inform future restoration design, monitoring and adaptive management plans, and determinations of restoration success. We are developing trajectories for two separate restoration areas: Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland and The Sabine National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) located on the Calcasieu Pass in Louisiana. Both projects utilized dredge material as the source of sediment for site development, though they employed different restoration approaches, monitoring regimes, and adaptive management. For each site, we are assessing a number of parameters to understand development across the chronosequence of individual restored marsh units, including vegetation patterns and other marsh characteristics, selected based on scope, resources, and accessibility. Our case studies focus on sediment chemistry, vegetation, and bird population monitoring data in Poplar Island, and vegetation, soil shear strength, and physical, biogeochemical, and microbial properties at Sabine NWR. We compare and contrast different methods of restoration and monitoring to facilitate efficient determinations of success, and likely trajectories of multiple marsh parameters. These trajectories may also offer context to interpret the relevance of stochastic perturbations in marsh restoration development, and the necessity to intervene to meet restoration success criteria.
Poster Board STP.101

Phragmites Australis (Common Reed) Fitness and Morphology Along a Salinity Gradient in a Long Term Restoration Project

Alizia Rhodes, Texas A&M University at Galveston

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Anthropogenic changes to freshwater inflow into estuarine environments may have detrimental consequences, as changing salinity regimes may cause some species to proliferate at the expense of others. One such species of management concern is Phragmites australis (common reed) in the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR, Texas, USA). This grass can potentially invade lower salinity portions of estuaries following disturbances such as hydrological alteration or nutrient input. In the ANWR, the recent (2019) closure of a tidal inlet (Rollover Pass) as part of a hydrological restoration project results in decreased tidal input and lowered salinity in the ANWR. As a result, Phragmites management may become more challenging within the refuge. To assess the potential for Phragmites proliferation and thus inform future management decisions, a field survey was conducted at three sites along a salinity gradient within the ANWR. Soil salinity was three times higher at the two downstream sites than at the site furthest upstream. Phragmites stems were 20% taller at the site furthest upstream where soil salinity was lowest. Phragmites stem density and leaf chlorophyll a content were similar at all sites. Although there is some indication that Phragmites may have higher fitness at the lowest salinity site, stands of this species persisted at all three sites. In addition, soil salinities remained high at downstream sites for more than two years following the hydrological restoration project. These results suggest that salinity levels may prevent rapid near-term Phragmites proliferation within the reserve. This may have real-world implications for future wetland restoration and management.
Poster Board STP.102

Evaluation of Louisiana Ecotypes of Saltgrass for Selection and Use in Salt Marshes of the Coastal Zone of Louisiana

Garret Thomassie, USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service

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Saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) is a mat-forming, strongly rhizomatous perennial grass that prefers moist, saline soils, and is often found in sandy, alkaline locations. It is important in salt marshes as nesting habitat for birds, fish and larvae of many species of marine invertebrate animals. Saltgrass persists in saline inundated ecosystems including marshes along the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico. It is also one of the more drought-tolerant marsh grasses. Saltgrass is a highly desired plant for coastal restoration projects and is frequently requested for re-vegetation contracts by conservation partners, including those representing federal, state and parish governments and private consultants. However, there is a lack of quality tested plants of this species, especially in sufficient numbers for growers to obtain for commercial production. The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Golden Meadow Plant Materials Center (PMC), Galliano, LA has evaluated 25 accessions of saltgrass collected across coastal Louisiana. Objective of this effort was to identify accessions exhibiting vigorous, drought and flood tolerance, active seed germination, with exceptional spread. Accessions were planted in an initial evaluation in a randomized complete block with three replications in a field where water levels can be managed and manipulated to simulate tidal flux, as in the coastal marsh. Ten of the 25 accessions exhibited superior growth characteristics and worthy of further evaluation and selection. Evaluations of the 10 promising accessions will continue in 2022 by comparing their performance and adaptation at multiple sites in South Louisiana. The PMC plans to release a saltgrass for commercial production for coastal restoration projects in Louisiana coastal parishes.
Poster Board STP.103

Restoring Louisiana Coastal Marsh Habitat through Sustainable Sediment Beneficial Use Practices

Andrew McQueen, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center

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Coastal Louisiana (USA) continues to sustain immense land and habitat losses due to subsidence, sea-level rise, and storm events. Approximately 65 million cubic meters (85 million cubic yards) of sediment is dredged annually from Gulf Coast Federal navigation channels to maintain safe waterway passage. The beneficial use of these sediments continues to increase and now this sediment is recognized as a critical resource in large-scale (estimated multi-billion dollar) ecosystem restoration efforts to mitigate land and habitat losses along the U.S. Gulf coast. Yet, documenting the restoration benefits of such projects where dredged sediment is the primary resource is lacking, which limits the potential for future applications. Therefore, this study documents the progress to restore marsh habitat and the resultant benefits in West Bay, Louisiana and investigates how the restoration practices align with principles of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering with Nature® (EWN®) and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Restoration performance was assessed through remotely sensed methods using data spanning approximately 70 years. West Bay, a 4,964-hectare sub-delta adjacent to the Mississippi River, typifies risks of coastal land loss that also threatens the integrity of the adjacent Federal navigation channel. To help restore coastal marsh habitat on a large spatial and temporal scale, the USACE constructed an uncontrolled diversionary channel from the Mississippi River and with subsequent direct and strategic placement of dredged sediment. To date, placement of dredged sediment in the bay facilitated the creation of over 800 hectares of new land in the formerly open waters of West Bay. The West Bay restoration project is a pertinent example of how principles of the EWN initiative deliver nature-based engineering solutions to achieve economic, environmental, and social benefits through collaborative processes, and how the project meaningfully integrates UN SDGs designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future.
Poster Board STP.104

Coastal Plain Stream, Floodplain and Wetland Restoration Using Wood Structures Harvested from the Project Site

Joe Berg, Biohabitats

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Wood is a natural renewable resource and has been a common feature in stream stability across North America prior to extirpation of beaver, European colonization, and removal of wood from streams under the mistaken auspices of creating fish passage and mitigating flooding risks. Adding wood to riffle features to improve their habitat quality, using buried wood as bank stabilization and habitat improvement features, using rootwads to attenuate velocities and improve bank cover are all highly valued applications of wood in stream restoration. The use of wood in stream restoration structures is a logical refinement of stream restoration techniques. Building wood and earth plugs in incised, over-widened, and disconnected stream channels re-establishes lateral floodplain reconnection without extensive grading, creates deeper stream flow to support better aquatic life habitat and hyporheic connectivity, and reduces sediment and nutrient loading. In addition, this approach is regenerative and sustainable in a forested landscape. Wood production rates are higher than decomposition rates. Floodplain reconnection reduces in-stream shears and supports accumulation of wood and leaf material. The restored groundwater supports riparian and floodplain wetland community development and helps maintain stream temperature and flow during dry periods. Wood also creates a much more structurally complex habitat. A project totaling more than 20,000-lf that used engineered wood structures in combination with an understanding of natural stream and floodplain processes and functions to deliver significant functional uplift will be presented as a model for Gulf Coast stream restoration. The design approach, the regulatory experience, and the results of groundwater monitoring will be discussed. The goal is to stimulate more projects of this type by helping the design and construction community to build capacity for this type of truly sustainable ecological restoration.
Poster Board STP.105

Examining the impacts of coastal development and mangrove coverage on oyster abundances in Mosquito Lagoon, FL

Emily Suchonic, University of Central Florida

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Historically, below-freezing winter air temperatures have limited mangrove expansion in sub-tropical and temperate estuaries. However, as winters have grown warmer within the past century, red (Rhizophora mangle) and black (Avicennia germinans) mangroves have begun expanding poleward into temperate salt marshes and increasing in abundance in sub-tropical estuaries where oyster reefs occur. Previous research from McClenachan et al. (2021) found a 103% increase in mangroves on oyster reefs in Mosquito Lagoon, FL, potentially causing a decline in oyster acreage. However, eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) can attach to mangrove aerial roots, which suggests increased mangrove area could provide additional substrate for oyster settlement. Another mechanism influencing oyster success is increasing available hard substrate for recruitment through changes in land use and shoreline stabilization. Using high-resolution imagery and Summer 2022 field surveys, this study aims to determine how mangrove encroachment affects oyster abundances. From the imagery, random sampling points were generated in three regions (North, Central, South) (n=216 points) for each of four site types: 1) mangroves + oysters on oyster reefs, 2) mangroves + oysters seaward of stabilized shorelines, 3) oysters on mangrove islands, and 4) mangroves + oysters along unrestored shorelines. Monitoring metrics included densities of live and dead oysters by substrate type (mangrove roots, stabilization materials, and reef oysters) and live oyster shell lengths. Preliminary results showed northern sites with the largest mean shell lengths (± S.D.) and oyster percent live were mangroves + oysters on oyster reefs (28.6 ± 21.7 mm; 35% live) and mangroves + oysters along stabilized-shorelines (23.2 ± 16.2 mm; 64% live). Additionally, stabilization materials had the tallest mean live (61.8 ± 117.7 mm) and dead oyster attachment heights (58.0 ± 107.1 mm) (± S.D.). Going forward, we will digitize mangrove abundance changes during recent decades and continue collecting field data on oyster abundance on mangroves.
Poster Board STP.106

Piloting Seagrass Restoration in Mosquito Lagoon, FL

Gabriel Benson, University of Central Florida

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Halodule wrightii (Hw) is the most abundant species of seagrass in Mosquito Lagoon FL, the northernmost basin of the Indian River Lagoon system. Between 2009 and 2019, seagrass coverage in southern Mosquito Lagoon declined by 97% representing a substantial ecosystem disturbance. To inform future restoration efforts, our goals were to assess efficacy of planting methods, model seagrass suitability, and establish a nursery in which fragments can be grown before out-planting. Suitability modeling was conducted using ArcGIS Pro and focused on identifying the best shorelines for planting. A recirculating pilot nursery was established to help determine which fragments are most suitable for collection, as well as gain insights as to how Hw grows in a closed system. A field study compared the success of field-collected Hw fragments (all with 5 shoots) attached with floral wire to biodegradable BESE™ elements, garden staples, and burlap mats. Treatments were deployed in June 2022 across 5 shorelines. At each site four, 1m¬2 plots were established and randomly assigned as a planting treatment or a control. At the time of planting every plot was bare of seagrass. Monitoring was conducted bi-weekly through September and will continue monthly through December 2022. During the study period, seagrass coverage increased dramatically throughout the system. Although planting success varied greatly between sites, after 9 weeks, the shoot density in staple plots was 287% greater than in control plots. Preliminary analysis suggests the staple plots were the only planting treatment with significantly more seagrass than control plots. Hw fragments survived in the pilot nursery and new growth was observed. Shoreline slope, and low wave action were found to be the best predictors of site suitability. The findings from this study will guide larger-scale seagrass planting efforts during the spring of 2023.
Poster Board STP.107

Unravelling Feedbacks Preventing Seagrass Colonization

Beatriz Marin-Diaz, University of Florida

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Coastal ecosystems can provide protection to critical national infrastructure by preventing coastal erosion and attenuating waves. Tyndall Airforce Base, which is located in Saint Andrew Bay, FL, is surrounded by seagrass meadows that are vulnerable to hurricane damage and loss of shoreline protection services. During summer 2022 we assessed the state of the seagrass inside and outside the Bay and we found a large decline in the Gulf side, directly exposed to the hurricane Michael in 2018, whereas seagrass on the bay side appears to be stable during the same time period. We are currently examining patterns of seagrass establishment, sediment movement, and bioturbators to evaluate bare areas that are suitable for restoration. Initial results from a field experiment show that a combination of bioturbators and sediment movement may be keeping some areas bare. These ecological processes could be reinforcing bare patches and potentially counteracting the long term success of restoration activities.
Poster Board STP.108

Harnessing Natural Succession to Enhance Coastal Dune Restoration

Hallie Fischman, University of Florida

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Coastal dune restoration efforts have been escalating globally as a way to protect valuable infrastructure from rising seas and increasing storms. However, restored dunes vary widely in their ability to establish resilient systems and have notoriously high failure rates. Traditional dune restoration involves the planting of a single dominant grass species across the entire dune face, disregarding the high native diversity in these systems, stressful conditions that are common after restoration, and natural recovery pathways. Here, we evaluate if dune restoration outcomes can be improved by planting early successional pioneer species. We test if the facilitation model of succession, where pioneer species enhance the establishment of climax species by ameliorating stressors, applies to sand dunes and if this natural recovery pathway can be harnessed to increase dune restoration success. Field surveys of Southeastern US dunes suggest that Panicum amarum is commonly found in disturbed areas, suggesting it acts as an early successional species. A planting experiment revealed that stem production of the dominant dune grass Uniola paniculata is enhanced by 37% over one growing season in the presence of Panicum, while Panicum growth is suppressed by 40% in the presence of Uniola, confirming their respective roles as pioneer and climax species. An additional field experiment evaluated the optimal Panicum density that maximizes Uniola growth. These results suggest that planting early successional species in addition to or prior to planting climax species can increase the growth rate of dune building grasses, which is critical for establishing resilient, high-functioning dunes.
Poster Board STP.109

Comparing Spotted Gar Reproductive Potential and Body Condition in Connected and Disconnected Floodplains

Emily Ott, Nicholls State University

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To mitigate flood damage, Louisiana has implemented extensive hydrological modifications that have disconnected floodplains such as the upper Barataria Estuary (UBE) from the mainstem of the Mississippi River. Historically, floodplains that were connected to the mainstem of the River were inundated by an annual flood pulse and were highly productive. Organisms in the disconnected UBE floodplain experience lower food availability, reduced vegetation cover and limited spawning habitat compared to organisms in the Atchafalaya River Basin (ARB) floodplain, that remains connected to the mainstem Mississippi River. In this study, adult Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus will be collected from UBE and ARB to compare adult Spotted Gar reproductive potential and body condition. Spotted Gar will be collected using a 7.5 Generator Powered Pulsator electrofisher and brought to Bayousphere laboratory for processing. Morphometrics of Spotted Gar will be measured to allow for size comparisons between Spotted Gar residing in UBE and ARB. Gonads will be histologically examined to classify reproductive phase of collected Spotted Gar. Comparing reproductive and body condition characteristics of adult Spotted Gar from ARB and UBE will provide insight into how or if disconnection of floodplains from the mainstem of the Mississippi River impacts adult Spotted Gar reproductive potential and or body condition. Preliminary results indicate that adult ARB female Spotted Gar are larger and possibly more fecund than adult UBE female Spotted Gar.
Poster Board STP.110

Assessing Landscape Resistance at a Gulf Coast Essential Fish Habitat Restoration Site

Casey Craig, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

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Juvenile sportfish, including snook and tarpon, are obligate users of nursery habitat provided by salt marsh and mangroves. Juveniles immigrate through creeks and across marsh/mangrove landscapes during extreme high-water events into backwater ponds, which have reduced predator abundance and calm waters due to a lack of connectivity to open water. After reaching an appropriate size, fish will emigrate back across the landscape into open water to continue their life cycle. Essential fish habitat was recently restored in the Cape Haze region of Charlotte Harbor, located on the central Gulf coast of Florida, restoring tidal connectivity to mangrove and salt marsh habitats known to be used by snook and tarpon. The purpose of this study was to assess landscape resistance, habitat connectivity, and utilization by migrating and juvenile fish in restored and natural habitats in Cape Haze. Basal cover and species of vegetation, canopy cover, elevation, sediment grain size, sediment organic matter, and landscape resistance were measured in 18 restored and natural ponds in Cape Haze. Data will be presented on which habitat metrics are most important for determining “hot spot” and “cold spot” locations for the aggregation of juvenile sportfish, including snook and tarpon. Similar work has been conducted in Tampa Bay, though this study is the first for the Cape Haze region.
Poster Board STP.111

Restoring the New Jersey Meadowlands - Understanding the Role of Sawmill Creek’s Tidal Wetlands in Minimizing Climate Change Vulnerability

Terry Doss, Meadowlands Research & Restoration Institute - NJ Sports & Exposition Authority

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Sawmill Creek, a 727-acre state wildlife management area comprised of tidal brackish marshes, mudflats, and open water, is a vital resource to both the New Jersey Meadowlands and the surrounding New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Sawmill Creek provides critical functions such as water filtration, storm surge absorption, and wildlife habitat, as well as several forms of public recreation, including boating, fishing, and, in the fall and winter months, duck hunting. Given the multi-faceted benefits that Sawmill Creek provides, ensuring its preservation is paramount to the Meadowlands and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, it has undergone significant ecological change due to development, pollution and climate change, reducing hundreds of acres of vegetated marsh to open water and mudflat. This creates several issues, not the least of which is that these areas, which once stored carbon, are now a carbon source. The loss of vegetation has also diminished wildlife habitats and its ability to provide storm surge protection for nearby infrastructure. As sea level rises and erosion continues, further loss of the vegetated marsh is likely to occur. The situation is dire, but not irreversible. Current data indicates that Sawmill Creek’s remaining brackish marshes are effective at storing carbon, but many questions remain. How much organic carbon is currently stored in the remaining marshes? How much potential might there be for additional carbon storage if the marshes were restored? Conversely, what will become of the organic peat deposits currently stored within the sediment if environmental stressors such as climate change and sea level rise continue to impact the area? The Meadowlands Research & Restoration Institute is working under an EPA-funded study to answer these questions and gather the information needed to restore the marsh to its former functionality amid a changing climate.
Poster Board STP.112

Comparing Oyster Restoration Approaches on Grass Island Reef, Aransas Bay, Texas

Emma Clarkson, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

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Since 2008, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has restored over 600 acres of oyster habitat by placing cultch (clean substrate such as rock or shell on which oyster larvae settle and grow) on degraded oyster habitats. While constructing high vertical relief reefs can increase resilience to sedimentation, dredging, and low dissolved oxygen, rising cultch costs can be prohibitive to achieving both areal coverage and vertical relief targets. At Grass Island Reef in Aransas Bay, Texas, TPWD used an experimental restoration design to compare the performance between the “mounding approach” (where cultch is placed in high vertical relief mounds spaced approximately 6 meters apart) and the more cost-efficient “flats approach” (where cultch is placed in a uniform layer with an average depth of 7 cm). Preliminary results indicate that while both restoration approaches successfully increase oyster density as compared to an unrestored reference site, oyster density was higher on mounds versus flats. This information is used to adaptively manage and design future TPWD restoration projects, and additional studies are planned this year to evaluate the impact of dredge harvest on restored reef performance.
Poster Board STP.113

The Impacts of pH Manipulation on Pre-Settlement Oyster Larvae in a Hatchery Setting

Leslie Townsell, University of Georgia

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With the decline in water quality, coastal leaders may look to increase the role of hatcheries in resource management and restoration. Aquaculture accounted for more than half of the world’s seafood supply between 1997-2017, with mollusk mariculture contributing to about a quarter of that rise. Georgia was once a leading producer in the nation’s oyster fishery, but its harvest is now the smallest in the Southeast. Oyster aquaculture, supported by a thriving hatchery program, could contribute to the revival of the shellfish industry in Georgia and the regeneration of vital oyster habitats. Most hatcheries depend on intake water from local estuaries, which is subject to coastal acidification. Growers often amend low pH intake with bicarbonate, but the optimum range or upper limit has not been established. To help guide growers, we evaluated the larvae of Georgia’s cultivated variety of Crassostrea virginica and their ability to tolerate high pH conditions. A series of incubation experiments were conducted to measure the growth, survival, and mortality of C. virginica larvae at the University of Georgia, Shellfish Research Lab in Savannah, Georgia. pH levels were manipulated by adding sodium bicarbonate to seawater to identify the optimum pH range. Oyster larvae did not grow or survive at the expected rate based on their life cycle stages measure by sieve size, causing a decline in larval survival and indicating that life cycle day played a larger role in the growth and survival than the pH treatment. We also found mortality was not impacted by pH treatment or life cycle day. This study suggests that maternal lipids may play an important role in supporting C. virginica growth and survival prior to day nine of the life cycle. Lessons learned include that pH may not be the only water quality variable of concern to growers.
Poster Board STP.114

Use of Enhancement Structures to Restore Oysters and Increase Biodiversity in the Lower Hudson River

Allison Fitzgerald, New Jersey City University

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In summer 2021, approximately 11 million oyster spat were placed into the lower Hudson River, between Pier 26 and Pier 34 on the west side of Manhattan. These oysters were either set onto large reef balls, or onto recycled shell which was then placed into gabions. In an intricate experimental design featuring 96 reef balls, 80 gabions, 18 textured pilings, and 6 biohuts (gabions wrapped around a pier piling), a team of restoration practitioners and scientists are evaluating the growth and survivorship of oysters as well as the use of the enhancement structures to increase biodiversity of invertebrates and fish in the area. Specifically, the role encrusting invertebrates play as both a deterrent to oyster spat settlement and in oyster growth or mortality will be assessed using image analysis and visual species identification. Early monitoring (after 1 year) shows variability in survivorship that may be linked to tank setting (some structures had very low survivorship), fast growth rates for surviving oysters, and settlement of multiple colonizing species on both gabion and reef ball structures. Community analysis shows a difference between the reef balls and gabions. One particularly important species, the eastern oyster drill Urosalpinx cinerea was found on most structures, and mortality due to drills (as assessed with scars on remnant shells) was high. This is the first of a 5-year monitoring series, and methodology worked out here will allow for a deeper exploration of the ecology of restoration of this key bivalve back into the Hudson Estuary and influence future restoration projects.
Poster Board STP.115

Experimental Olympia Oyster Restoration in the Salish Sea; South Puget Sound

Jeff Barney, Pierce County Floodplain and Watershed Services

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To better understand the potential for an Olympia oyster restoration at Penrose Point State Park, this project utilized experimental test plots established in September 2020, recruitment monitoring over the last three years, and long-term monitoring efforts since 2013. The project found that the test plots varied both in the stability of shell substrate and the survival of outplanted oyster seed. This survival of seed was lower than anticipated after 9 months and therefore, the monitoring efforts did not detect any differences between Penrose Point and the reference site at Maple Hollow Park. Additionally, larval settlement of Olympia oysters at Penrose Point and Maple Hollow was extremely low across all years monitored. Although full analyses of community data have not yet been conducted, initial observations indicate a lack of community-level changes. Therefore, we conclude that any future Olympia oyster restoration at Penrose Point State Park should focus on areas with the greatest shell stability and juvenile oyster survival. Furthermore, because the site does not experience regular Olympia oyster settlement, restoration should include the addition of oyster seed. The addition of seed should use methods to reduce mortality due to predation and other factors. Monitoring of this project will continue to determine the continued survivorship of outplanted Olympia oysters and their potential impact on the surrounding community. Troyer S 1 , Behrens M 2 , Becker B 3 , Matheson-Margullis H 3 , Davidson M 2 , Benson A 3 , Cross-Schroeder H 2 , Marvin F 3 , Buxel S 1 1 Harbor WildWatch, Gig Harbor WA, USA 2 Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma WA, USA 3 University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma WA, USA
Poster Board STP.116

Developing a Coastwide Habitat Suitability Index to Guide Oyster Restoration Planning in Coastal Louisiana

Brandon Champagne, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

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Louisiana’s eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) population is one of the most valuable oyster resources in the country. In addition to Louisiana’s annual oyster harvest, oyster reefs provide shelter for estuarine species, enhance water quality, and reduce shoreline erosion. Oyster communities and the industries that rely on them are threatened by low population levels caused by stressors like overharvesting, oil spills, and river flooding. Meanwhile, the state faces a land loss crisis as dozens of square miles of coastal marsh erode every year. Recent restoration efforts have constructed oyster living shorelines that work synergistically with natural reef building to protect marsh edges from erosion while contributing to the natural oyster larvae population. Despite the recent implementation of oyster living shorelines in coastal Louisiana, there is insufficient data available on a coastwide scale to inform sustainable oyster restoration planning. A habitat suitability index (HSI) was created to predict future oyster habitat suitability in coastal Louisiana. The model included environmental variables like salinity, fetch, and sediment deposition to predict overall oyster viability in the coming decades. Additional spatial data layers identified potential regulatory constraints such as existing coastal use permits and navigation channels that could otherwise limit project implementation. The resulting tool can help guide both oyster harvesters and restoration practitioners in considering future habitat conditions in their planning efforts. This could improve implementation of restoration projects now and optimize their ecological and environmental benefits in the future.
Poster Board STP.117

A Comparative Analysis into the Ecology of Crassostrea Virginica Population Health in the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico

Leila Avery, Loyola University New Orleans

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A study evaluating oyster population health of the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico using restorative practices protecting sacred native land. Comparing oyster restoration materials and success in different regions of the country. Data on planted oyster reef has been collected over the course of 2 to 5 years examining oyster growth, spat attachment, presence of other invertebrates and predation. The success of a planted oyster reef will include the presence of vertical reef growth, spat attachment, and protection of scared native mounds mitigating land erosion. Most data has been collected in the field at different deployment sites across the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Southern Louisiana close to the Gulf of Mexico. The evaluation of water quality and sustanibility is included in this study.
Poster Board STP.118

How Low Can You Go? Expanding Oyster Tidal Niche with Induced Predator Defenses

Carter Lin, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

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Organisms exist within a realized niche constrained by both biotic and abiotic factors. An oyster’s realized niche is constrained by different types of stressors based on their tidal elevation. Higher tidal elevation increases desiccation risk, but can provide a refuge from predation. In contrast, deeper water increases feeding time and accelerates growth but also increases vulnerability to benthic predators. These factors constrain survival at both tidal elevations, setting the boundary for their realized niche. Oysters possess an induced predator defense and will harden their shells in response to predation risk, which reduces their mortality and could allow them to expand their realized niche. We performed an empirical study to determine the optimal tidal elevation for oyster survival and growth in Mobile Bay, AL and to investigate if oysters’ phenotypic plasticity could be manipulated to increase their realized niche. We raised oysters in the presence of blue crab predators (Callinectes sapdius) or in controls without predators, measured changes in their shells, and then monitored their growth and survival at different tidal elevations in seven locations with varying predation regimes. Predator exposure increased oyster survival in all locations and reinforced the elevation-based refuge at 0.36m above the sediment, though some sites saw an additional threshold at 0.62m. Proximity to oyster farms was correlated with higher mortality rates. Our findings suggest non-lethal exposure to predators can bolster oyster restoration and aquaculture and that restoration in intertidal areas can increase oyster survival.
Poster Board STP.119

Zinc Incorporation During the Molting Cycle of Blue Crabs, Callinectes Sapidus

Lauren Eagon, Nicholls State University

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Toxic chemicals and heavy metals can have harmful effects on the environment and the organisms within them. In Louisiana, the vast amount of water provides multiple pathways for these xenobiotics to spread and eventually settle. Crustaceans provide a model organism to study the effects of toxic xenobiotics because of high local abundance and exposure from both the sediment and surrounding water. Crustaceans use molting as an important route of elimination for toxic chemicals. Molting is a sensitive growth period where the old exoskeleton is removed, and a new exoskeleton is hardened with calcium carbonate. A divalent cation like calcium, zinc is an essential but toxic metal with both natural and anthropogenic sources that can be harmful to crustaceans. This study aims to identify what stage of the molting cycle zinc enters the exoskeleton of blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) and the pathway zinc uses for incorporation. Late premolt or “buster” blue crabs are purchased and monitored for completion of ecdysis. Following this removal of the shell, zinc and Pantin’s crustacean saline are injected at three treatment levels: 1.0 mg Zn/ml, 0.5 mg Zn/ml, and 0.0 mg Zn/ml. After two equal injections calculated by wet weight, crabs are harvested for samples of the exoskeleton, epidermis, hemolymph, gill, and muscle. Samples are analyzed for differences in zinc content among treatment levels using ANOVA. We expect to see zinc entering the exoskeleton during post-ecdysial mineralization by way of the calcium transporter using ionic mimicry.
Poster Board STP.120

Preliminary Study to Link Sediment Microplastics to the Shorebird Food Web in Caven Point, Liberty State Park (Jersey City, NJ)

Robert Belibrov, New Jersey City University

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Caven Point, a well-known shoreline for bird migration stopovers, is located within the urbanized Hudson Raritan Estuary. This sandy beach and small maritime forest provide food and resting grounds for many species of migratory shorebirds. Being at the heart of an urban estuary, it also provides access to many pollutants, including microplastics. Microplastics have become a more widely researched topic within the field of ecology, and its effects on the environment and species that dwell within the environment are still not very well known. A small preliminary study was performed this summer to try and link the migratory shorebird community to microplastics within the sediment, water, and food web. The study focused on the quantitative collection of the types of birds present at this area, and the identification and assessment of possible microplastics found in bird fecal matter. The species and abundance of shorebirds were observed throughout summer and early fall at several locations across Caven Point. Additionally, samples of sediment and water were analyzed for microplastics. Fecal samples from shorebirds were also collected to assess for microplastics. The data shows that the Canadian goose (Branta canadensis), and Herring gull (Larus argentatus) are the most abundant shorebirds in Caven Point. Along with those species the Great blue heron (Ardea herodias), Great egret (Ardea alba), and Snowy egret (Egretta thula) are also always present. Microplastics were found in the majority of samples, and inferences were drawn with this data to connect the food webs together. This study will be used as a stepping stone to future food web studies in the area, and as a tool to help restore and protect Caven Point. The study will also help to identify the role of microplastics within the shorebird community, and if increases in abundance happen as microplastics move through the trophic levels.
Poster Board STP.121

Effect of Sea-Level Rise Induced Salinity and Inundation Regimes on Mature Bald Cypress (Taxodium Distichum) Stands of Southeast Louisiana

Blair Miller, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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As increased salinity and flooding accompany sea-level rise, freshwater coastal wetlands like bald-cypress stands are becoming ever more susceptible to deterioration, loss of vigor, mortality, and/or transformation to more salt-tolerant herbaceous vegetation. In this study, we assessed how root growth and canopy cover (measured through leaf area index), as two structural properties of bald-cypress stands are affected by different salinity and inundations regimes across 9 sites distributed in the Barataria and the Terrebonne/Atchafalaya estuaries. Root growth was measured using ingrowth cores, while leaf area index estimated from a diffuse light radiation analyzer (LI-COR LAI-2000). Both were measured quarterly from May 2022 to December 2022. Preliminary results from two quarterly measurements indicate that canopy cover is not affected by salinity. However, inundation has had an effect as plots with the highest average water level during the past 3 years showed a decrease in canopy cover from the spring to the summer season. Our presentation will also examine emerging results from root growth measurements.
Poster Board STP.122

Proactive Landscape Coastal Habitat Protection in Alaska

Michael Daigneault, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, in partnership with Alaska land trusts and Alaska Native organizations, has been focused on proactively protecting intact, functioning coastal habitat across Alaska for over 20 years. Our goal is to protect functioning ecosystems in advance of anthropogenic impacts that require restoration. Alaska's climate is changing at a rate of 2-3 times faster than the continental U.S., and these protected coastal habitats provide a variety of ecosystem services and nature-based coastal resilience. Over the past two decades, the Coastal Program and our partners have focused conservation efforts in coastal areas of Southeast, Southcentral, and Southwest Alaska - these efforts have resulted in the protection of significant acreage of high quality coastal habitat. These habitats support an abundance of fish and wildlife species: resident, anadromous, and marine fish, resident and migratory birds, and resident mammals. Further, these habitats and species support Alaska Native food security, a cultural connection to the land, and recreational and commercial harvests that are foundational to Alaska's economy. This poster celebrates the coastal habitat conservation successes over the history of Alaska's Coastal Program and provides context for the countless fish and wildlife species that have benefitted from this proactive conservation. We also recognize that many of Alaska's coastal areas are not addressed by this Program - Alaska's coastal habitat protection needs are great and we endeavor to expand the Program to fulfill the needs across all of Alaska.
Poster Board STP.123

Thermal Tolerance Variation in Young-Of-The-Year Winter Flounder Across the Southern New England Region

Geresa-Leigh Luke, Stonybrook University

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Warming estuaries driven by climate change pose a risk for early life stages of coastal fish species. Water temperature increases can induce thermal stress in juveniles symptomatic of growth inhibition, increased respiration, and mortality thus reducing recruitment into the offshore adult population. This research aims to identify thermal tolerance variation among juvenile Winter Flounder subpopulations within the Southern New England region. A common garden laboratory experiment was conducted using Young-of-the-Year Winter Flounder from Boston Harbor, MA, Narragansett Bay, RI, Shinnecock Bay, NY, and Sandy Hook Bay, NJ. The test subjects from each population were placed in individual bowls in 3 recirculating seawater systems and acclimated to 14, 20, or 24C. Over the course of 5 weeks, length and weight were measured to determine temperature’s effect on growth rates. Additionally, opercular flaps were recorded on video and used as a proxy for ventilation and respiration rates. Growth was strongly influenced by temperature and fish population. Fish from Shinnecock Bay and Narragansett Bay, grew at the highest rate, with positive growth observed for all populations at temperatures of 14C and 20C, with most populations experiencing negative growth rates at the warmest temperature (24C). As expected ventilation tended to increase as a function of temperature, but the response varied among the populations tested. Further statistical analysis of the preliminary data is still ongoing. The preliminary results suggest that growth and ventilation vary across populations of Winter Flounder and response to warming conditions may vary by location. This research aims to understand how juvenile fish respond to climate change and the final conclusions will be used in modeling efforts to inform coastal fisheries management and support the resiliency of Winter Flounder.
Poster Board STP.124

Comparison of Finfish and Crustacean Assemblages Among Established Marsh Terraces, New Marsh Terraces and Open Water in a Restored Brackish Marsh

Shasta Kamara, Nicholls State University

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Louisiana has lost approximately a quarter of coastal lands that were present in 1932 from subsidence, disconnection of the Mississippi River from its floodplain and other natural and anthropogenic factors, necessitating restoration activities. One such technique is the creation of marsh terraces from local sediments in areas where marsh has been degraded to open water. Marsh terracing aids in slowing land loss as it reduces the exposure of surrounding marshland to wave energy. This study evaluated the influence of marsh terraces on finfish and crustacean assemblages in a brackish marsh east of Golden Meadow, Louisiana. The study region contained three habitats, new terraces built in 2022 (1.1 km^2), established terraces built in 2017 (0.57 km^2) and an adjacent open water area (0.44 km^2). Gee’s® minnow traps, experimental mesh gill nets and a shrimp trawl (1.8 m wide) were used to sample finfish and crustaceans along terrace edges, in channels between adjacent terraces and in open water. Sampling occurred twice a month May through October 2022. Finfish and crustaceans were identified to species, counted and measured (mm). Catch per unit effort was calculated as number of individuals collected per unit of effort for each gear type. Fundulus grandis (Gulf Killifish) had higher mean CPUE in the minnow traps in the established terraces (0.34 mean CPUE ± 0.11 Standard Error) than the new terraces (0.02 ± 0.01). The difference between the established and the new terraces may indicate that the perceived habitat quality for some species may change over time. Examining the finfish and crustacean assemblages provided insight into possible ecological effects of terraces and how those effects may change over time.
Poster Board STP.125

Tracing Energetic Connectivity Across Restored and Reference Salt Marsh Landscape Mosaics

Katherine Loesser, Louisiana State University

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The rapid rate of coastal land loss in Louisiana spurred the implementation of numerous federally authorized marsh restoration projects in the state. Evaluations of coastal wetland restoration often focus on nekton diversity and abundance as key metrics of success. However, establishment of trophic linkages and food web structure are critical to ensuring the return of proper ecosystem function. We used a stable isotope-based approach to quantify the degree of basal resource overlap between marsh platform, creek, and channel nekton communities at created and reference salt marshes in southeastern Louisiana. Using carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur stable isotopes, we constructed three-dimensional niche ellipsoids for each community. For each site, we compared niche breadth, shape, and overlap between communities, and used the degree of overlap to determine the strength of energetic connectivity across habitat mosaics. We then compared energetic connectivity between and within created and reference sites to evaluate the success of marsh creation in re-establishing trophic structure. As coastal restoration grows increasingly important, understanding the ability of restoration efforts to re-establish food web structure is critical to effectively evaluating restoration and implementing adaptive management practices.
Poster Board STP.126

A Survey of Benthic Invertebrates in Saw Mill Creek, Hackensack River NJ

Ebony Chilin, New Jersey City University

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The Meadowlands are a large expanse of saltwater marshland in northeast NJ, bordering the Hackensack river and Hudson River. Much of the Meadowlands is impacted by the urbanized area surrounding it, and by past impacts such as tidal gates that separated parts of the marsh from the main stem. One of the many tributaries running throughout the marsh is Saw Mill Creek, which was closed by tidal gates until the 1950s when a storm surge broke the gates and re-flooded the marsh. Slowly this marsh has been naturally restoring itself, all while the native Spartina grasses fight with the invasive Phragmites for space. Saw Mill creek is home to many different types of benthic invertebrates, fiddler crabs, fish, and more. These animals are very important for life on the mudflats to be productive. Benthic invertebrates allow for bioturbation to occur and have more biodiversity within mudflat than in the deeper channels. Whereas Fiddler crabs allow for oxidation to occur within mudflats, and are found closer to the vegetation. Using grab samples and hand capture, a survey of the biodiversity of the mudflats in Saw Mill Creek was obtained in July 2022. Grab samples assessed infaunal invertebrate diversity along a depth gradient in 3 locations, while fiddler crab behavior and population demographics were also observed at the same locations. Benthic invertebrates were more diverse as distance from the main stem increased (further back into the marsh) and changed along a depth gradient. Various polychaetes as well as Macoma tenta clams were abundant infaunal organisms. This data will be used by various restoration practitioners as the Hackensack River is restored as a Superfund site over the coming years.
Poster Board STP.127

Sustainable Ecological Enhancement of Port Infrastructure: Port of San Diego

Heather Weitzner, ECOncrete

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In 2019, under the framework of the Blue Incubator Program, the Port of San Diego approved a two-year pilot project with ECOncrete, an ecological engineering company developing innovative bio-enhancing concrete infrastructure for the coastal, marine, and offshore industries. The main objective of the project was to develop a specific design to address the ecological enhancement of the riprap armoring protecting Harbor Island, with the primary goal of creating well-defined local ecosystems that mimic natural rock pools and provide for a favorable environment in which to develop an abundant and rich diversity of marine flora and fauna. ECOncrete's technologies for enhancing the ecological value of fully structural concrete is based on three aspects: the materials composition, the surface texture, and the three-dimensional design. The combination of these three principles working in synergy has proven to achieve optimal results when combining ecological enhancement along with structural performance. In 2021, ECOncrete launched the first installation of 74 interlocking single-layer COASTALOCK armor units across two riprap sites along the San Diego Bay shoreline. The units will provide structural, ecological, and community engagement benefits. ECOncrete will conduct ecological and structural monitoring every six months for the first two years. Initial monitoring results are overwhelmingly positive, with the marine ecosystem thriving only months after successful installation, outperforming expectations. Monitoring results included 31 sessile species, 10 mobile invertebrates, and 4 species of fish. In addition, dozens of juveniles of the Nudibranch Aplysia californica were found in the COASTALOCK cavities. With this project, the Port of San Diego and ECOncrete aim to provide an example of inclusive design for coastal protection and port infrastructure which can be applied to urban, natural, and working waterfronts globally.
Poster Board STP.128

Mapping Habitat Suitability for Culturally Significant Plants in the South Slough Watershed in Oregon

Tehani Malterre, NOAA/South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (student at University of Hawaii at Manoa)

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The National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) system is a national network of estuaries co-managed by NOAA and coastal state agencies. In 1974, the South Slough NERR (SSNERR) in Coos County, Oregon became the first of 30 sites in the NERR system designated for protection and research. This project specifically focuses on the Wasson Creek basin, which is a 530-acre section of the SSNERR watershed system that directly feeds one of the main tributaries to the South Slough and has been the subject of ongoing restoration efforts after years of successive timber harvests. Plants such as beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta) and associated plant communities were managed for abundance by the miluk coos and other Native peoples of the Oregon coast since time immemorial and have been severely impacted by timber harvests and inadequate forest management in the past century. These species, along with many more, are culturally important to local Native peoples including members of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI). To aid in these restoration efforts, this habitat suitability mapping project utilizes ArcGIS to create a map of areas within the Wasson Creek basin that can support some of these culturally important species (e.g. beaked hazel). Suitability is based on environmental parameters such as soil type, drainage, aspect, slope, elevation, accessibility for stewardship and cultural use, and surrounding vegetation. This project was completed by combining GIS data from the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) and GIS Living Atlas with literature research, personal communication with Tribal members, and site visits to existing populations and proposed suitable locations. The information and maps generated by this project will be used to inform management processes within the Wasson Creek basin and hopefully aid in Tribal accessibility to these natural cultural resources.
Poster Board STP.129

City of Charleston, SC Church Creek Stormwater Basin Study: Restoration of Tidal Flow and Flood Mitigation

Robert Horner, Weston & Sampson

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In one of the fastest growing areas in the historic City of Charleston, South Carolina, recurrent flooding from past development practices brought all new development to a screeching halt for over a year in the popular West Ashley area that drains to Church Creek. The Church Creek drainage basin is a 15,000-acre area including residential and commercial development and significant transportation corridors. The basin also includes significant freshwater and saltmarsh wetlands and tracts of undeveloped property. Based on significant flooding, the City implemented the moratorium on development and commissioned a study by Weston & Sampson to evaluate existing conditions and develop solutions to prevent future flooding that would allow growth while protecting transportation corridors and private property. Weston & Sampson evaluated past studies, upgraded the hydraulic model, and developed seven initiatives that would fix the flooding problems if implemented. One of these initiatives is to restore tidal flow to the system through upstream and downstream connections via Lake Dotterer and an impounded wetland. The capacity of Lake Dotterer as a stormwater facility is much larger than would typically be required to serve the surrounding neighborhoods and urban area. This overall area is approximately 50 acres and was formerly part of the estuarine system which connected Church Creek with the Stono River. The study proved under normal conditions that a high enough tide can cause upstream flow in the channel. Additionally, the study proposed that culverts be equipped with surge protection devices that would allow for two-way flow during normal conditions but would close during abnormally high tides. Ultimately, this study shows the potential for re-establishment of connection between Church Creek and the Stono River, restoring tidal flow to a currently impounded wetland, and adding adaptive capacity to a currently overwhelmed stormwater system.
Poster Board STP.130

Monitoring Animal Use of Stabilized Shorelines with Wildlife Trail Cameras

Paul Sacks, Biology Department, Coastal and Estuarine Ecology Lab, University of Central Florida

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An important purpose of living shoreline stabilization, in addition to reducing erosion, is to restore ecosystem services to previously degraded shorelines. This study used wildlife trail cameras to assess the impact of 3 different living shoreline stabilization materials on terrestrial fauna along 3 kilometers of estuarine shoreline in Canaveral National Seashore, on the east coast of central Florida. Stabilization included mangroves in the upper intertidal, smooth cordgrass in the mid-intertidal, and a breakwater in the lower intertidal. Breakwater treatments included Naltex™ (plastic) shell bags, galvanized wire crab pot mesh soft gabions, and cement-jute volcanos. Eroded with minimal vegetation and non-eroded, vegetated shorelines constituted the negative and positive controls, respectively. Trail camera video clips were recorded from early February through June 2022. Raccoons, followed by feral hogs, were the most frequently observed mammals at each of the treatments; great blue herons were the most frequently observed bird. No animals avoided the restoration materials. White-tailed deer foraged on a few mangrove leaves, while invasive feral hogs dug up and displaced plants and Naltex™ shell bag breakwater materials, but not the newer, plastic-free materials. The National Park is actively trying to remove hogs. Overall, these shoreline stabilization strategies did not interfere with behaviors of wading birds and terrestrial animals.
Poster Board STP.131

Experimental Oyster Reef Restoration along the Mississippi Coastline

Amy Yarnall, USACE Engineer Research and Development Center

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The significant loss of oyster reefs in the Northern Gulf of Mexico has far-reaching consequences. Depleted reefs impact commercial and recreational fishing and reduce essential fish habitat for commercial and recreational nekton species. Historically, reefs served as pivotal structures supporting a huge range of ecosystem services and processes that make up a healthy coastal system. An evaluation of active oyster reef restoration methodologies is needed to guide future restoration efforts. This poster describes a large-scale replicated oyster reef experiment that will be conducted along the Mississippi coastline. Objectives of this research are to investigate methods for optimizing oyster habitat restoration from two different placement areas within the Mississippi Sound, and to evaluate whether restored oyster reefs enhance habitat for important commercial and recreational fish species and to evaluate the impact of oyster reef creation on federally designated critical habitat for Gulf Sturgeon. This project is a partnership between The University of Southern Mississippi and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Environmental Laboratory, funded through the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Research Program.
Poster Board STP.132

Oyster Reef Restoration Using Novel Biodegradable Elements in the Indian River Lagoon, FL

Luciana Banquero, University of Central Florida

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In the field of ecosystem restoration, there is increasing interest in finding effective biodegradable alternatives to conventional plastic materials to minimize plastic introduced to restored environments. For example, BESE-elements® (Biodegradable Elements for Starting Ecosystems), which form 3D lattice sheets made of potato starch with oyster shell (Crassostrea virginica) attached, have successfully restored degraded oyster reefs on Florida’s east coast. However, preparing these materials for restoration is time intensive, leading restoration practitioners to look for novel biodegradable options that would be more feasible at larger scale. BESE-reef paste is a new technology that aims to enhance shellfish recruitment when used to restore reefs without the need to attach shell. Six oyster reefs were restored in June 2022, three using BESE-elements® with attached oyster shells and three using BESE-elements® with oyster reef paste. Cement was coated on BESE-elements as a control for the paste. Reefs were monitored weekly over the course of a month following deployment and then quarterly. Data was collected on reef paste and cement retention, as well as oyster recruitment. The objective of this project was to determine which method would be the most effective at recruiting oysters, while maximizing volunteer friendliness and cost effectiveness. Preliminary data shows a significant difference between treatments in oyster recruitment four weeks post-deployment (ANOVA p-value: 0.0043). BESE-elements® with oyster shells had higher oyster recruitment on studied reefs. Regarding volunteer friendliness, BESE-elements® with reef paste took less time to make per mat than BESE-elements® with oyster shells, but many volunteers obtained chemical burns during community oyster reef restoration material preparation events at Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach, FL while making BESE-reef paste mats. Sourcing materials for reef paste was more expensive than the oyster shell treatment aside from BESE-elements®. Monitoring will be ongoing until June 2023 to examine longer-term trends.
Poster Board STP.133

Dynamic Living Shorelines: An Innovative Union of Shoreline Protection and Habitat Enhancement

Joshua Hansen, Underwood & Associates

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Sea-level rise and increasing shoreline development have amplified the demand for more resilient protection against shoreline erosion. Soft engineering practices such as living shorelines have shown to be more resilient during hurricanes than hard engineering counterparts (e.g., bulkheads, revetments), require less maintenance over time, and provide effective protection against erosion. The primary advantage living shorelines have over conventional shoreline erosion control structures is their ability to provide ecological services such as habitat provision and trophic transfer and to act as a tertiary buffer for upland runoff and groundwater. For the past 25 years, Underwood & Associates has been developing the innovative Dynamic Living Shoreline (DLS) technique. This technique creates a complete coastal profile of headlands, beach, backshore, and dune systems, providing resilient shoreline protection and enhancing habitat. Infaunal communities adjacent to our past projects have increased biomass, density, and diversity after project completion. Additionally, the biomass of polychaetes declined after project completion, suggesting a transition toward stable infaunal communities at our projects over time. In the past, gray infrastructure contributed solely to permanent habitat impacts, and mitigation was required to be found elsewhere. Our headlands are our advancement on conventional breakwaters. They utilize a well-graded mixture of sands, gravels, cobbles, and boulders that interlock to create a cohesive unit that can provide the same shoreline protection as a rubble mound. Including smaller sediment sizes permits shallower design slopes, which in turn greatly reduce wave reflection deleterious to the nearshore habitat while supporting the growth of native marsh grasses, and having a natural appearance. The project’s resiliency benefits from the wetland grasses, which create an erosion-resistant turf that functions with greater resiliency than geotextiles. This poster will explain the main features of a dynamic living shoreline with visual aid based on our 25 years of designing and constructing these projects.
Poster Board STP.134

True Restoration: Regenerative Stream Channel (RSC) As An Integrated Approach To Restore River-Wetland Corridors To Pre-Civilization Times.

Chris Becraft, Underwood & Associates

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Worldwide, valley floors were once dominated by laterally unconfined river planforms that featured dynamically stable, morphologically complex, multi-threaded channels with vegetated bars, islands, and floodplains. These river-wetland corridors had a high degree of connectivity between subsurface and surface flows, with groundwater tables at or near the surface, and were much wetter than the modern, artificially drained river valleys to which we have become accustomed. These corridors have since been nearly annihilated (>80%) due to various anthropomorphic activities. Conventional stormwater management practices grounded in industrial design have neglected integration with ecosystem processes, economics, and aesthetics. The general public and river managers alike have since lost sight of how restoration goals should appear. Hard, structural methods have led to the dysfunction of many former river-wetland corridors, as they cause erosion and stream channel degradation. All of this leads to an increasing spiral of degradation in which local governments are forced to spend scarce public funds on remediation measures. Alternatively, using nature-based stream restoration techniques to create a dependable, open-channel conveyance with pools and riffle-weir grade controls is a regenerative design that harkens back to pre-civilization conditions. These elements result in a system of chemical processes and biological mechanisms that can have beneficial, positive feedback effects on the ecology of a drainage area. This approach results in low-energy stormwater discharge delivery, potential volume loss through infiltration and seepage, increased temporary water storage, restored groundwater levels, increased vernal pool area, improved water quality treatment, improved local micro-habitat diversity, and provides a significant aesthetic value. An investigation has found that RSCs have enhanced stream function at the reach scale, removing 73.8% of the suspended sediment, 49.7% of the total nitrogen, 25.7% of the nitrate, 45.8% of the total phosphorus, 44.8% of the phosphate, and 48.3% of the ammonium.
Poster Board STP.135

Understanding and undertaking the science needed to support Puget Sound ecosystem recovery

Scott Redman, Puget Sound Partnership

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The Puget Sound Partnership, a Washington State agency, provides backbone support for collective, cross-sector efforts to protect and restore the Puget Sound ecosystem. In an evolution of the science-oriented approaches that began developing nearly 40 years ago, the Partnership convenes an advisory Science Panel and includes a staff team devoted to coordinating the research, modeling, and monitoring needed to support ecosystem recovery efforts. The Science Panel, with staff support, develops Science Work Plans that identify priority science work actions and broader recommendations to improve ongoing science. The Science Work Plan for 2020-2024 guides the Partnership's investments in scientific investigations and the work of the Panel and staff to engage the science community in support of Puget Sound ecosystem recovery. To address science needs expressed by various entities and to achieve the Panel's objectives for scientific efforts, the Panel identified 15 top priority science work actions for 2020-2024, which fall into four categories: (1) human-biophysical interactions; (2) effectiveness of recovery interventions; (3) ecological conditions and effects; and (4) science-based decision support. The Science Work Plan for 2020-2024 also specifies the following broader recommendations to improve ongoing science: (a) collaboratively broaden and improve the knowledge network that supports Puget Sound ecosystem recovery; (b) improve incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into science and monitoring efforts; (c) develop capacity and coordinate efforts to assess and report on ecosystem conditions and the effectiveness of recovery interventions; (d) coordinate production and use of interdisciplinary research that explores and emphasizes the integrated nature of socio-ecological systems; (e) build and sustain robust programs and relationships across science-policy interfaces to inform recovery; (f) communicate science findings clearly and to the appropriate audiences; and (g) develop and analyze alternative future scenarios to explore and express desired futures and evaluate trade-offs among possible approaches.