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Tag: Restoration ecology
  • Swan Island: Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan

    Abstract: Swan Island is a 10.12 ha island located in the Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Because of its value as a natural wave break for the town of Ewell on nearby Smith Island, as well as the ongoing erosion and subsidence of the island, in 2019 US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)–Baltimore District placed 45,873 m³ of dredged sediment and planted 200,000 marsh plants. This restoration provided an opportunity to quantify the engineering (that is, resilience) and ecological performance of the island, postplacement. The lack of quantitative data on the performance of natural features such as islands has led to perceived uncertainties that are often cited as barriers to implementation. To address these data gaps, a multidisciplinary collaboration of five government entities identified project objectives and monitoring parameters through a series of mediated workshops and then developed a conceptual model to articulate those parameters and the linkages between them. This monitoring and adaptive management plan (MAMP) documents those monitoring parameters and procedures and can serve as an example for other scales, regions, and research questions. Documenting research and monitoring efforts may help to foster widespread acceptance of nature-based solutions such as islands.
  • Supporting Bank and Near-bank Stabilization and Habitat Using Dredged Sediment: Documenting Best Practices

    Abstract: In-water beneficial use of dredged sediment provides the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) the opportunity to increase beneficial use while controlling costs. Beneficial use projects in riverine environments include bank and near-bank placement, where sediments can protect against bank erosion and support habitat diversity. While bank and near-bank placement of navigation dredged sediment to support river-bank stabilization and habitat is currently practiced, documented examples are sparse. Documenting successful projects can support advancing the practice across USACE. In addition, documentation identifies data gaps required to develop engineering and ecosystem restoration guidance using navigation-dredged sediment. This report documents five USACE and international case studies that successfully applied these practices: Ephemeral Island Creation on the Upper Mississippi River; Gravel Island Creation on the Danube River; Gravel Bar Creation on the Tombigbee River; Wetland Habitat Restoration on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta; and Island and Wetland Creation on the Lower Columbia River Estuary. Increased bank and near-bank placement can have multiple benefits, including reduced dredge volumes that would otherwise increase as banks erode, improved sustainable dredged sediment management strategies, expanded ecosystem restoration opportunities, and improved flood risk management. Data collected from site monitoring can be applied to support development of USACE engineering and ecosystem restoration guidance.
  • Approaches to Identify and Monitor for Potential Acid Sulfate Soils in an Ecological Restoration Context

    Purpose: Potential acid sulfate soils include materials with the capacity to generate acidity under certain environmental conditions. As such, these soils can pose challenges to ecological restoration projects occurring in wetlands and nearshore environments. To provide guidance for ecosystem restoration practitioners, the following technical note describes acid sulfate soil formation and distribution and then describes techniques for identifying and monitoring acid sulfate soil conditions prior to and following implementation of restoration activities. Finally, this technical note outlines a number of tools and recently published resources to help avoid unintended consequences of acid sulfate soil disturbance and achieve ecological restoration objectives.
  • Water Level Management for Enhanced Fish and Wildlife Habitat Production in Upper Mississippi River Navigation Pools: An Engineering with Nature® Review of Practice

    Abstract: There is a long history of fish and wildlife management associated with Upper Mississippi River navigation dams owned and operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Many operational changes have been made to improve aquatic habitat, with recent emphasis on pool-scale drawdowns to enhance wetland benefits without affecting navigation or other uses. This special report describes projects successfully incorporating Engineering With Nature® principles in a review of the physical setting and historical fish and wildlife habitat management efforts using Upper Mississippi River System navigation dams. We reviewed 80 years of adaptation and lessons learned about how to integrate navigation operations and wildlife management. Several experiments have revealed the capacity to produce thousands of hectares of emergent and submersed aquatic plants, restoring much-needed riparian habitat for a variety of aquatic, wetland, and avian species.
  • Engineering With Nature®: Supporting Mission Resilience and Infrastructure Value at Department of Defense Installations

    Abstract: This book illustrates some of the current challenges and hazards experienced by military installations, and the content highlights activities at seven military installations to achieve increased resilience through natural infrastructure.
  • Environmental Factors Affecting Coastal and Estuarine Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)

    Abstract: Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) growing in estuarine and coastal marine systems provides crucial ecosystem functions ranging from sediment stabilization to habitat and food for specific species. SAV systems, however, are sensitive to a number of environmental factors, both anthropogenic and natural. The most common limiting factors are light limitation, water quality, and salinity, as reported widely across the literature. These factors are controlled by a number of complex processes, however, varying greatly between systems and SAV populations. This report seeks to conduct an exhaustive examination of factors influencing estuarine and coastal marine SAV habitats and find the common threads that tie these ecosystems together. Studies relating SAV habitats in the United States to a variety of factors are reviewed here, including geomorphological and bathymetric characteristics, sediment dynamics, sedimentological characteristics, and water quality, as well as hydrologic regime and weather. Tools and methods used to assess each of these important factors are also reviewed. A better understanding of fundamental environmental factors that control SAV growth will provide crucial information for coastal restoration and engineering project planning in areas populated by SAVs.
  • Inundation Depth and Duration Impacts on Wetland Soils and Vegetation: State of Knowledge

    Abstract: The following synthesizes studies investigating plant and soil responses to increased inundation in order to support ecosystem restoration efforts related to the alteration of natural wetland hydrodynamics. Specific topics include hydrologic regimes, soil response to inundation, and implications for vegetation communities exposed to increased water depths. Results highlight the important interactions between water, soils, and vegetation that determine the trajectory and fate of wetland ecosystems, including the development of feedback loops related to marsh degradation and subsidence. This report then discusses the knowledge gaps related to implications of inundation depth, timing, and duration within an ecosystem restoration context, identifying opportunities for future research while providing source materials for practitioners developing restoration projects.
  • Development of a General Anadromous Fish Habitat Model: Phase 2: Initial Model Quantification

    Abstract: The General Anadromous Fish Habitat Model (now the General Salmonid Habitat Model) was developed to assist in the plan formulation process for ecosystem restoration and mitigation projects. The model generates relative differences in habitat quality between proposed alternative future scenarios. In order to provide model development transparency, this report presents the initial quantification phase of the model development process. The draft model depicted in this report is scalable, meaning various parameters may be measured at different landscape scales (for example, reach vs. watershed). The model can be applied (model domain) in watersheds that currently or previously supported salmonid fish species. Application outside of the model domain would need further evaluation to ensure appropriate sensitivity to the new system of interest. Although the model is being developed to explicitly capture changes in fish habitat in response to restoration actions, this model would be appropriate for use in any planning project focused on the restoration of streams, rivers and, estuaries (for example, dam removals, in-stream habitat enhancement), because the parameters are measures of ecosystem level structure, function, and process.
  • Acid Sulfate Soils in Coastal Environments: A Review of Basic Concepts and Implications for Restoration

    Abstract: Acid sulfate soils naturally occur in many coastal regions. However, the oxidation of acid sulfate soils can decrease soil pH to <4.0, affecting vegetation and aquatic organisms. Acid sulfate soil oxidation typically occurs where anaerobic sediments or soils were exposed to aerobic conditions (for example, extended drought, artificial drainage, or dredged material placement in upland areas). Recently, field observations documented the formation of acid sulfate materials at multiple degraded marsh restoration locations (Rhode Island, New Jersey, California) following intentional dredged sediment placement into wetland environments designed to increase marsh elevation. Unlike previous studies of acid sulfate soils, the in situ dredged material did not contain acid sulfate–bearing materials at the time of placement; instead, the interaction between the marsh substrate and the overlying dredged material appears to have caused the formation of acid sulfate soils. These findings highlight the need for additional studies of acid sulfate soil formation and fate—especially within a marsh restoration context. In response, this report provides a review of literature related to acid sulfate soils, discusses preliminary data collected to evaluate acid sulfate material formation following marsh restoration, and identifies knowledge gaps requiring additional research and technical guidance.
  • Documenting Engineering with Nature® Implementation within the US Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District – Completed Projects and Opportunities for Chronosequence Analysis

    Purpose:  The following documents the beneficial use of dredged materials in a subset of shallow draft navigation projects conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Baltimore District between 1904 and 2016. The available data demonstrates (1) the expansion of beneficial uses of dredged materials over time incorporating Engineering With Nature® (EWN) approaches and (2) provides baseline information supporting chronosequence studies of habitat restoration/creation trajectories designed to evaluate project success.