Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Assessment Project virtual public presentation

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Scientists from across the southeast region, in collaboration with the USACE, participated in a live public webinar on June 9 to introduce results from the Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Assessment project. The objective of the project is to provide data collections, morphologic modeling, and structured decision-making to explore restoration options to protect and restore natural resources.

2018-12-17-Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Assessment_Enwright

Photo taken on Dec. 17, 2018, for the Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Assessment Project. (Photo by N. Enwright; USGS. Public domain.)

Dauphin Island, Alabama, serves as the only barrier island providing protection to much of the state of Alabama’s coastal natural resources, such as estuarine habitats including oyster reefs, marshes and seagrasses. The barrier island habitat includes beach, dune, overwash fans, intertidal wetlands, maritime forest, and freshwater ponds. The island has been severely impacted by storm events over the past several centuries, as well as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The State of Alabama, the USGS, and the USACE are conducting a joint study to evaluate feasibility-level alternatives to increase the resiliency and sustainability of Dauphin Island. Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the project investigates viable, sustainable restoration options that protect and restore the natural resources of the island. The project is focused on restoration options that protect and restore habitat and living coastal and marine resources, as well as protect the coastal resources of Mississippi Sound/Mobile Bay and the wetlands of southern Alabama. Data collection and modeling is used to evaluate restoration actions with regards to resiliency and sustainability in support of critical habitats and resources.

USGS products from the Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Assessment Project include:

  • high-resolution bathymetry of coastal environments
  • wave, current, and water quality timeseries data
  • sediment and habitat distribution characterization
  • shoreline and seafloor change maps
  • models of barrier island morphologic evolution, and resulting habitat and habitat suitability changes under scenarios of sea level rise and storminess (i.e., magnitude and frequency)
  • decision-support analysis
  • a suite of data management software
  • a monitoring and adaptive management plan

The results of the project address areas of concern regarding island resiliency and explore how various potential restoration measures impact multiple stakeholder objectives including: maximizing island sustainability, maximizing coastal natural resources and island biodiversity, maximizing social acceptance, and minimizing costs. USGS scientists from the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (James Flocks, Christopher G. Smith, and Davina Passeri), Wetland and Aquatic Research Center (Nicholas Enwright, Christina Hunnicutt, and Hongqing Wang), Southeast Region (Gregory Steyer), Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science (Richard Rebich and Amy Gill), and Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (Elise Irwin) collaborated on this study.

 

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Date published: April 17, 2016
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Dauphin Island, Alabama, is the only barrier island providing protection to much of Alabama's coastal natural resources. Severely impacted by repeated extreme events, like Hurricane Katrina and Deepwater Horizon oil spill, USGS and partners are conducting a joint study to evaluate the feasibility of certain alternatives to increase resiliency and sustainability of the island.