Prioritizing wetland restoration and monitoring in coastal Louisiana.
STEYER, G.D.* 1, L.A.REYNOLDS 1, R.E.STEWART JR. 2 and J.B.JOHNSTON 2
Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9396 USA 1
National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA 70506 USA 2
The State of Louisiana and the Federal government initiated coastal restoration projects in 1981 to combat wetland losses of up to 35 square miles per year. Projects were originally selected to address "hotspots" of wetland loss across the coast, but were not truly integrated in the social, economic and ecological landscape. In 1998, the Coast 2050 Plan was developed in partnership with the public, parish governments, scientific community, and State and Federal agencies. The Plan's ecological objective is reestablishment of natural processes to achieve sustainability. To restore a highly-productive and valued coastal ecosystem, we must 1) assure vertical accumulation to achieve sustainability; 2) maintain estuarine gradient to achieve diversity; and 3) maintain exchange and interface to achieve system linkages. Projects are now developed and prioritized based on regional strategies and habitat objectives that embrace these three coastwide strategic goals. Utilization of landscape-level hydrology, subsidence and land loss databases and evaluation of socio-political factors was critical in strategic planning and project development. Project-specific and landscape-level monitoring has illustrated that the variability of the natural system is commonly underestimated, confounding our ability to evaluate large-scale restoration. A case study of the Breton Sound estuary illustrates the tools applied for prioritizing restoration efforts, how monitoring provides feedback necessary for adaptive management, and demonstrates how restoration effectiveness influences, and is influenced by, ecological processes.
Keywords: Louisiana, coastal wetlands, restoration, project planning, monitoring
This abstract is being presented at: 1:45 PM in session:
Symposium # 5: Incorporating Landscape Processes in Ecological Restoration.