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Extramural Research

2002 Progress Report: Wetland Restoration and Remediation in Southwest Louisiana Marshes: A Study of Soil Elevation, Vertical Accretion, Shallow Subsidence and Root Zone Influences in Marshes Restored Using a Variety of Techniques

EPA Grant Number: R829584C001
Subproject: this is subproject number 001 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R829584
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Louisiana Environmental Research Center (McNeese State)
Center Director: Ford, Mark A.
Title: Wetland Restoration and Remediation in Southwest Louisiana Marshes: A Study of Soil Elevation, Vertical Accretion, Shallow Subsidence and Root Zone Influences in Marshes Restored Using a Variety of Techniques
Investigators: Ford, Mark A.
Current Investigators: Ford, Mark A. , Stacy, Gus
Institution: McNeese State University
EPA Project Officer: Stelz, Bill
Project Period: October 31, 2001 through November 30, 2004
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 31, 2001 through November 30, 2002
RFA: Louisiana Environmental Research Center (McNeese State) (2001)
Research Category: Targeted Research



This is one of seven subprojects of the Louisiana Environmental Research Center (LERC). For information on the other subprojects conducted by LERC, see the individual reports for R829548C001 through R829548C007.

This research program consists of two projects. The main objective of Project 1 is to determine if restored marshes function like natural marshes, while specifically examining the compaction and settling rates of deposited materials, vertical soil accretion, and biological root zone development of the soil profile. This research project studies marsh restoration projects of various ages using dedicated dredged materials.

The main objectives of Project 2 are to: (1) instill an appreciation for wetlands of the area in students; (2) provide the opportunity to use math, science, and public speaking skills in real-life situations; and (3) encourage students to teach what they have learned to others through an outreach forum. A hands-on educational unit will be taught at a local high school.

Progress Summary:

Project 1. The setup of all sample plots and initial sampling are complete. The 2002 restoration site has been sampled repeatedly, yielding unexpected insights into soil development and plant colonization of a marsh restored with dedicated dredged material.

We completed initial sampling at the 1983, 1993, 1996, and 1999 restoration sites; therefore, there are no comparable data available yet for these sites. The 2002 restoration site has been sampled since July 2002. This site has gained 1.5 m of elevation since July 2002, much to the surprise of everyone involved. We predicted the continual compaction of soils, which were laid in February. Through the examination of sedimentation rates compared to soil elevation changes, data implicate that compaction is continual, but very slowly. Soil elevation increases are a result of more than 2 cm of vertical soil accretion for the same time period. Soil accretion is possible at the 2002 site, because unlike the other sites and most other restorations of this type, this site had crevasse cuts placed in the south levee, allowing for the exchange of tidal waters. As a result, sediments as well as estuarine fauna, already are entering the site. In addition, volunteer plants have begun to colonize the restoration site. This indicates that keeping containment levees in place for extended years is not only not necessary, but by creating crevasses, ecological functions of marshes restored with dedicated dredged materials also can be restored much faster than if the containment levees are left intact.

Project 2. The wetlands course is nearly complete. We have been conducting weekly lectures combined with hands-on experiments with wetland plants and common stressors in mesocosm tanks at LaGrange High School. Professionals from various related fields have participated in guest lectures as part of this research project. We have completed the initial site visit to the location where the spring outreach activity will take place.

Students at LaGrange High School in Lake Charles, LA, are excited about the wetlands unit we have been teaching. Some have even begun to consider careers in ecology. We covered all of the basic topics that would be covered in most college-level wetland introductory courses. Speakers from McNeese State University, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have presented guest lectures. Students conducted mesocosm experiments with wetland plants since August, applying treatments of common stressors such as herbivory, salt water impacts, and flooding to the mesocosms. They collected and managed the data, learned about experimental design and data collection and management, and generated spreadsheets and graphs of the results. We also visited the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge to help synthesize everything that the students have learned. McNeese State University media services, the American Press, and FOX TV News have produced stories on this project, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been acknowledged as the funding source for this project. Plans have begun for a spring outreach festival, where students from this class will present a festival for local primary-aged children, setting up exhibits that will explain various functions and values of coastal wetlands. Given the history of similar events in the region, we anticipate that upwards of 600 students will participate in this festival.

Future Activities:

For Project 1, we will continue sampling of all restoration sites on a quarterly basis. We also will present findings at the 2003 Society of Wetland Scientists Meeting. We will prepare a final data set for a peer-reviewed journal publication. Below-ground root zone samples still need initial gathering, and this will be accomplished within the next 2 weeks.

For Project 2, we will complete the wetlands course this semester, which ends in December, and also will organize and present the spring festival for primary-aged students.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 1 publications for this subproject

Supplemental Keywords:

wetlands, wetland restoration, wetland remediation, Louisiana, LA, marsh, restored marshes, sedimentation rate, vertical soil accretion, root zone influences., Scientific Discipline, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Restoration, Ecology and Ecosystems, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, contaminated sediment, root zone influence, coastal environments, restoration strategies, remediation, ecological recovery, oil spills, wetland restoration, water quality, environmental rehabilitation, marsh restoration

Progress and Final Reports:
Original Abstract
2004 Progress Report

Main Center Abstract and Reports:
R829584    Louisiana Environmental Research Center (McNeese State)

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R829584C001 Wetland Restoration and Remediation in Southwest Louisiana Marshes: A Study of Soil Elevation, Vertical Accretion, Shallow Subsidence and Root Zone Influences in Marshes Restored Using a Variety of Techniques
R829584C002 Developing Methods for Identifying Suitable Donors for Wetland Plant Restoration Through Transplantation
R829584C003 Effects of Salinity and Bottom Substrate Composition on the Growth and Proliferation of Widgeongrass (Ruppia maritima)
R829584C004 A Comparison of Health Parameters and Parasites in the Marsh Rice Rat Oryzomys palustris From Natural Freshwater, Saltwater, and Restored Marshes in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge
R829584C005 Comparison of Metal Concentrations in Soils, Sediments, and Selected Species From the Area Around Chevron Texaco No. 2 Bayou Tank Battery in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Louisiana and Preliminary Determination of Oxidation State
R829584C006 Use of The Prairie Garden and Plant Material Center To Collect, Propagate, and Maintain Breeder Blocks and Garden Specimens of Louisiana Prairie And Wetland Ecotypes
R829584C007 Density of Marsh Periwinkles and Fire Ant Mounds in Natural and Restored Marshes in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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