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Gulf of Mexico Foundation
Gulf Regional Sediment Management Master Plan
2009 GOMA Project

Issue Description:

Habitat conservation and restoration are critical needs throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea region in all of the territories of the United States. Unfortunately, habitat restoration is not keeping pace with the loss and degradation of coastal habitats nor Gulf Regional Sediment Management Master Planis it currently sufficient to sustain critical ecological services such as storm surge reduction and fisheries production. It is recognized that sediments are an integral element of a regional system involving natural processes which must be considered when planning and managing restoration activities. The HCRT has acknowledged that sediment resources are integral to accomplishing many Alliance restoration initiatives and that there is a need for a better understanding of regional sediment systems and processes to inform decisions about projects and actions that sediment resources. Developing a sediment management plan will provide guidelines for more effective management of sediment resources, recognizing they are a part of a regional system involving natural processes and dredging activities.

Problems:

The effects of managing sediment on regional ecological processes are not well understood. Around the Gulf, sediment, energy and ecological systems are integrated and connected. It is important to find the synergies between sediment management needs and restoration needs. The main focuses are typically geared towards dredging and filling operations, however, this in not the only potential source of sediment. There exists a basic need to understand how sediment flows through the natural systems in relation to regional ecological processes. With this understanding, we can begin to balance available sediment resources with sediment needs in the context of habitat conservation and restoration.

What You Can Do:

The RSM approach provides the ability to coordinate and collaborate; integrate numerous tools, technology, and data; leverage funding; and enhance partnerships. When considering conservation and restoration opportunities it essential to continually be examining how the RSM approach and philosophies can be implemented and extended into other projects and shared with other stakeholders. Implementing the RSM approach as part of normal business practice is critical towards improving sediment management planning, design, and maintenance in a regional context.

Current Activities:

The creation of a Gulf Regional Sediment Management Master Plan (GRSMMP) for managing sediment resources on a regional scale emphasizes the need for a comprehensive understanding of regional sediment systems and processes. The plan will be beneficial to provide guidelines using the understanding of sediment dynamics (inputs, outputs, movement) to manage sediment resources towards accomplishing environmental restoration, conservation, and preservation, while reducing coastal erosion, storm damages, and associated costs of sediment management. The Plan will also provide an inventory of potential sediment sources in connection with sediment needs. This information will provide a basis for assessing competing needs for sediment, enhance abilities to make informed cooperative management decisions, and develop regional strategies. These focus areas include:

  • Ecological Considerations - Examines the relationship between sediment and ecology in the context of RSM to aid in understanding managing sediment affect regional ecological processes.
  • Sediment Resources - Addresses sediment transport processes, sediment budget issues, and evaluates studies that have been done in terms of how it might support RSM. Also includes efforts to identify and summarize existing programs, studies, and databases that can provide information concerning sediment resources throughout the Gulf. Focus areas include sediment inventories, sediment budgets, and dredging activities.
  • Data Information Management - Examines ways and opportunities to collaborate and share data throughout all levels of government and the numerous interested stakeholders.
  • Policies, Authorities, and Funding - Identifies and examines existing authorities and policies and presents recommendations on how they can provide flexibility to facilitate the RSM approach.

Contacts

Larry Parson
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Mobile District
larry.e.parson@usace.army.mil

Ryan Fikes, M.S.
Project Director, HCRT
Gulf of Mexico Foundation
ryan@gulfmex.org

James Pahl, Ph.D.
Louisiana State Lead, HCRT
Office of Coastal Protection & Restoration
james.pahl@la.gov

Greg DuCote
Louisiana Co-Lead, HCRT
LA Dept of Natural Resources
Gregory.Ducote@la.gov

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webmaster: Carrie Robertson


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