Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Monitoring and Assessment Program Development

Science Center Objects

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and USGS will jointly lead the development of foundational components for Gulf region-wide monitoring.

The Science Issue and Relevance: Under the 2012 Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act), the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) has statutory requirements to report on the progress of funded projects and programs. Each Council-funded project will perform site-specific monitoring. Established monitoring and assessment protocols and standards for each project are needed to effectively aggregate and analyze project-specific results. By establishing protocols and standards in coordination with other entities funding restoration and/or conducting monitoring on the Gulf Coast, the Council will be better suited to evaluate progress towards comprehensive ecosystem restoration and leverage ongoing monitoring efforts.

RESTORE Council project

Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act Council Project funded under the First Priority List in Key Watersheds across the Gulf. The red line represents the boundary for Gulf-wide Foundational projects and the points and polygons represent funded watershed projects. 

(Public domain.)

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and USGS will jointly lead the development of foundational components for Gulf region-wide monitoring. Through collaboration with the Gulf States, federal and local partners, academia, non-governmental/non-profit organizations, and industry, the program will use a Council Monitoring and Assessment Workgroup and a Monitoring Community of Practice to leverage existing resources, capacities, and expertise and build on existing programs. These existing monitoring activities will be coordinated into a network of programs to provide efficiency in monitoring and collaborative cross-program review of performance with other Gulf ecosystem recovery efforts. The first phase will focus on water quality and habitat mapping. Specific tasks include:

  • Program management
  • Inventory of existing habitat and water
  • Quality monitoring programs, data, protocols, and standards
  • Determine the minimum monitoring elements needed to measure and evaluate the performance of the habitat and water quality restoration projects
  • Evaluate the suitability of the inventoried programs to monitor RESTORE Council projects and programs
  • Gap analysis of inventoried programs
  • Document the existing baseline habitat and water quality conditions
  • Create a searchable database and online mapping for Council member use
Fundamental Monitoring Elements

Overview of fundamental monitoring elements.

(Public domain.)

 

Future Steps: Following the completion of the first phase, tasks will include assessing data gaps. Additional monitoring and the inclusion of other data types may be proposed to address these gaps.