Louisiana’s Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS)

Science Center Objects

The Coastwise Reference Monitoring System was designed to monitor the effectiveness of restoration actions at individual sites, as well as across the entire Louisiana coast. 

The CRMS design includes a suite of sites that encompass a range of ecological conditions across the coast
The CRMS design includes a suite of sites that encompass a range of ecological conditions across the coast

Science Issue and Relevance: As the first federally mandated restoration program, Louisiana enacted the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) to address Louisiana’s land loss crisis. Between 1990 and 2015, the CWPPRA program has authorized 204 coastal restoration projects. These projects use a variety of restoration techniques and vary in size from small barrier island vegetation planting projects to large diversions of freshwater and sediments. In addition to those already mentioned, numerous restoration techniques are used including dredged material placement for marsh creation; shoreline protection; sediment and nutrient trapping; and hydrologic restoration through outfall, marsh, and delta management projects. The Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS) was designed to monitor the effectiveness of restoration actions at multiple spatial scales from site scale to the influence of projects on the entire coastal landscape.

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: The CRMS design includes a suite of sites that encompass a range of ecological conditions across the coast. Trajectories in reference sites are then compared with project trajectories through time to assess ecological condition and evaluate project effectiveness.

CRMS spatial and non-spatial data example
CRMS spatial and non-spatial data example

The CRMS network includes 391 sites with standardized data collection techniques and fixed sampling schedules. Monitoring data including hydrologic, accretion, herbaceous marsh vegetation, forested swamp vegetation, soil properties, surface elevation, and land/water composition are available for download from the CRMS website (http://lacoast.gov/crms2/home.aspx).

The CRMS website is designed to be a one-stop shop for CRMS information, visualizations, products, data, and multi-scale report cards. CRMS analytical teams are developing mechanisms by which individual sites can be assessed in relation to other sites within the same marsh type, hydrologic basin, and CWPPRA project.

Future Steps: In addition to the programmatic obligations, the CRMS dataset is used by USGS to support modeling, scientific research, and web-tool development.

Location of the Study: Throughout the Louisiana coastal zone, Latitude: 29.678°, Longitude: -91.552°