2022 Coastal & Estuarine Summit
Hosted by Restore America's Estuaries
New Orleans, LA | December 4-8, 2022
Policy, Planning, and Funding
Mon, 5 Dec, 17:30 - 19:30 Central Time (UTC -5)
Location: Poster Hall
Track: Policy, Planning, and Funding

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.