Marsh Creation Planning

Full Title: Planning for a future of marsh creation: Evaluating the decision to continue to create high elevation confined marshes

The project team will collaboratively scope and design research to inform decisions about the design of marsh creation projects.

Lead Investigator: Tracy Quirk, Louisiana State University, tquirk@lsu.edu

Natural Resource Manager: Daniel Breaux, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Project Team: Andy Nyman (Louisiana State University), Barret Fortier (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ), and Kevin Roy (USFWS and Louisiana Wetland Planning, Protection, and Restoration)

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (frank.parker@noaa.gov)

Award Amount: $78,260 

Award Period: This project began in September 2021 and will end in August 2022.

Why it matters: Coastal wetland loss is occurring at a rapid pace in Louisiana. To mitigate some of the loss, millions of dollars have been allocated for marsh creation , and billions more is projected for future restoration. Current marsh creation practices include confining dredge sediment within containment berms and targeting high initial elevations. However, it is not clear whether these designs prolong the time period of development of wetland structure and function including positive feedbacks between plant productivity, sedimentation, and elevation, which can enhance longer-term sustainability. Therefore, natural resource managers need more information about the development and long-term functioning of created marshes to make decisions about: 1) target elevations of marsh creation projects; 2) containment of dredge sediment within a berm and, 3) design considerations to  maximize elevation building processes.

What the team is doing: Through team meetings, a scoping workshop, field trips, and the compilation of existing data on marsh creation projects, the project team will scope and design research to address the uncertainties around these types of marsh creation projects. The scoping workshop will include engineers, project managers, researchers, and other stakeholders involved in all aspects of marsh creation to provide the project team with insight on the science needed as well as the practical constraints and alternative courses of action that might impact the decisions resource managers have to make. 

Expected outcome: The project team will generate a co-produced research and development plan as well as a plan for applying the findings and products from their planned research. The results of this planning process and, ultimately, the research and its application will inform future marsh creation projects in the northern Gulf of Mexico.